Town of Leonardtown, MD
St. Marys County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
A. 
The Board of Zoning Appeals shall hear and decide appeals for special exceptions and variances to this chapter. Each application for approval of a special exception use shall be accompanied by a site plan, drawn at an appropriate scale, meeting the requirements of §§ 155-115 through 155-127 and such other information as may be required for a determination of the nature of the proposed use and its effect on the Master Plan, the neighborhood and surrounding properties.
B. 
Special exceptions to this chapter shall be granted when it is found that the neighboring and adjacent uses shall not be adversely affected and where the spirit and intent of this chapter is not violated. Special exceptions within each district are listed under the regulations for that district, Articles II through X of this chapter.
Standards for each special exception are as follows:
A. 
Private detached garage for three or more noncommercial vehicles, in the R-SF and R-MF Districts only.
[Amended 5-9-2011 by Ord. No. 149]
(1) 
Such garage shall be located on the same lot as the building, structure or land use it serves.
(2) 
Such garage shall be located no less than five feet from any lot line.
(3) 
Such garage shall be provided with screen planting, subject to review and approval by the Board.
(4) 
Such garage shall be of sturdy wood or concrete construction. No outward metal walls shall be permitted.
(5) 
Such garage shall have a paved driveway into it for access and egress.
B. 
Boardinghouse, in the R-MF District only.
(1) 
Such buildings shall be located on one lot and shall be the primary structure and use on that lot.
(2) 
Such buildings shall meet the height, bulk, area, off-street parking and off-street loading requirements of the district in which they are located.
C. 
Joint use of off-street parking in the C-B, C-O and C-H Districts only.
[Amended 5-9-2011 by Ord. No. 149]
(1) 
Off-site parking facilities shall be allowed only in cases where such facilities are provided by two or more establishments jointly or:
(a) 
If the enlargement of a building or structure(s) located within the downtown takes up former parking spaces. (See Official Downtown Area Map, Attachment 3.)
(b) 
A change in use or mix of uses within a structure located within the downtown area requires additional parking that cannot be met on site.
(c) 
These off-site facilities are located no more than 300 feet from the building(s) served.
(2) 
Parking facilities may be jointly used by nonresidential buildings when one or more of such buildings or establishments operates or is open at different hours than the other(s). An example of this would be the joint use of parking facilities by a theater and a bank.
(3) 
In both above cases, a written agreement among all affected parties shall be properly drawn and executed, approved as to form by the Town Attorney and filed with the building permit applications assuring the parking requirements of this chapter can be satisfied.
(4) 
If a written agreement among all affected parties cannot be executed to assure the provision of parking under the terms of this Subsection C and on-site parking cannot be provided, the building or structure located within the downtown may not be expanded nor the uses within the building changed to create a condition requiring more parking than the use established on the effective date of this amendment. (See Official Downtown Area Map, Attachment 3.)
D. 
One or more dwelling units in the C-B District only.
(1) 
One parking space for each dwelling unit shall be provided in addition to other required parking spaces.
(2) 
Joint use of off-site parking facilities shall be allowed, provided that these facilities shall be located no more than 300 feet from the building or buildings served. A written agreement among all affected parties shall be properly drawn and executed, approved as to form by the Town Attorney and filed with the building permit applications.
(3) 
No more than 50% of the total floor area shall be used for residential purposes.
In order to provide for adjustment in the relative locations of uses and buildings of the same or different classifications, to promote the usefulness of this chapter as an instrument for fact-finding, interpretation, application and adjustment and to supply the necessary elasticity to its efficient operation, special use exceptions are permitted by the terms of this chapter. The following buildings and uses are permitted as special exceptions if the Board of Zoning Appeals finds that, in its opinion, as a matter of fact, such exceptions will not substantially affect adversely the uses of adjacent and neighboring property permitted by this chapter:
A. 
A multiple-family dwelling on a lot in a single-family residential district which sides upon a lot zoned for commercial or industrial purposes.
B. 
A nonconforming use now existing in any part of a building to be extended vertically or laterally to other portions of the building; in a building now occupied by a nonconforming commercial or industrial use, an additional use of the same classification in the remainder of the building.
C. 
The extension of an existing nonconforming building and the existing use thereof, upon the lot occupied by such building at the time of the passage of this chapter or erection of an additional building upon a lot occupied at the time of the passage of this chapter by a nonconforming commercial or industrial establishment and which additional building is a part of such establishment.
D. 
Where a use district boundary line crosses a lot, a use of either classification on the whole lot within 100 feet of said district boundary line.
E. 
A radio or television broadcasting tower.
F. 
Conversion of any building existing at the time of passage of this chapter so as to permit the housing of any number of families, provided that there is compliance with the lot area per family and off-street parking requirements of the district in which the building is located, and further provided that there is compliance with the yard requirements of the district in which the building is located.
G. 
Off-street parking areas adjacent to or at a reasonable distance from the premises on which parking areas are required by the parking regulations of this chapter, where practical difficulties, including the acquisition of property or undue hardships, are encountered in locating such parking areas on the premises and where the purpose of this chapter to relieve congestion in the streets would best be served by permitting such parking off the premises.
H. 
The waiver or reduction of parking and loading requirements in any district whenever the character or use of the building is such as to make unnecessary the full provision of parking or loading facilities or where such regulations would impose an unreasonable hardship upon the use of the lot.
I. 
Additions or structural alterations to a conditional use after having been approved by the Town Commissioners.
J. 
To determine, in cases of uncertainty, the classification as to district of any use not specifically named in this chapter; provided, however, that such use shall be in keeping with uses specifically named in the district regulations.
The following special yard exceptions, limited as to location and especially in locations described below in this section, are permitted by this chapter if the Board of Zoning Appeals finds that, in its opinion, as a matter of fact, such exceptions will not substantially affect adversely the uses of adjacent and neighboring property permitted by this chapter and provided that such exceptions are approved by the Board:
A. 
An exception in the yard regulations on a lot where on the adjacent lot there is a front, side or rear yard that does not conform to such yard regulations.
B. 
An exception to the front yard requirements on a reversed frontage lot.
C. 
A yard exception on a corner lot or lots opposite or adjoining permanent open spaces, including parks and playgrounds.
D. 
An exception in the depth of rear yard on a lot in a block where there are nonconforming rear yard conditions.
E. 
An exception where there are irregularities in depths of existing front yards on a street frontage on the side of a street between two intersecting streets so that any one of the existing depths shall, for a building hereafter constructed or extended, be the required minimum front yard depth.
These provisions amplify those stated in § 155-133.
A. 
Petitions for the grant of special exceptions shall be filed with the Town Clerk on forms provided. The petitioner shall submit plans and specifications or other data or explanatory material stating the methods by which he will comply with the conditions specified for each grant of special exception. At the time of filing his request for a grant of special exception, the petitioner shall pay to the Town Clerk the fee required to cover the cost of advertising and of sending notices and other miscellaneous expenses in connection with this petition.
B. 
Within three days after the acceptance for filing of an application, the applicant shall erect a sign obtained from the Town Clerk. The sign shall be a flat wall sign or post sign, as defined in the Sign Regulations, not to exceed two square feet in area. The sign shall read: SPECIAL EXCEPTION APPLICATION NO. ______________ PENDING FOR _____________ HEARING DATE ______________.
C. 
The Planning and Zoning Commission shall review a request for a special exception and forward its recommendations on the same to the Board of Zoning Appeals within 30 days of the receipt of such request.
D. 
The Board of Zoning Appeals shall review the application and shall hold a public hearing. After the public hearing, the Board shall grant or refuse the special exception and notify the petitioner, Planning and Zoning Commission and Town Commissioners. In cases where a special exception has been granted, said notice shall set forth the conditions, standards, safeguards or rules to which the special exception is subject. All signs posted by the applicant providing notice of the public hearing shall be removed by the applicant and returned to the Town Office no later than two weeks following the public hearing.
[Amended 5-9-2011 by Ord. No. 149]
E. 
Upon receipt of notice of grant of special exception, the Planning and Zoning Commission shall indicate the same in the proper place on the Zoning Map by use of appropriate code number or symbol.
A. 
Subject to the provisions of Article XIX, the Board of Zoning Appeals shall have the power to grant a variance in the density, bulk, height or area requirements in any district so as to relieve practical difficulties or particular hardships when and where the strict application of each regulation or restriction would result in peculiar and exceptional practical difficulties to or exceptional hardship upon the owner of such property by reason of exceptional narrowness, shallowness, size or shape of a specific piece of property at the time of the enactment of such regulation or restriction or by reason of exceptional topographical conditions or other extraordinary situations or conditions of such piece of property. Such grant or variance shall comply, as nearly as possible in every respect with the spirit, intent and purpose of this chapter. The purpose of this provision is to authorize the granting of a variance only for reasons of demonstrable and exceptional hardship as distinguished from variations sought by applicants for the purpose or reasons of convenience, profit or caprice.
B. 
This provision shall not be construed so as to permit the Board, under guise of a variance, to change the use of land.
C. 
Administrative variances.
[Added 5-20-2008 by Ord. No. 140]
(1) 
Purpose. The purpose of this section is to delegate to the Administrative Variance Review Committee approval authority to grant setback variances for single-family residences, accessory residential structures, and additions to residences and accessory structures. The Administrative Variance Review Committee shall consist of the Town Administrator, the Town Planner, and the Mayor.
(2) 
Application.
(a) 
An applicant seeking a variance may request the same of the Board of Appeals, pursuant to § 155-135 of the Leonardtown General Code, without first applying for an administrative variance.
(b) 
A person requesting an administrative variance must file the required application with the Town of Leonardtown.
(c) 
The application consists of the following:
[1] 
An application form;
[2] 
Application fee;
[3] 
Written documents bearing the signatures of all affected property owners demonstrating that they agree with the requested variance for the specific, proposed development activity. Affected property owners include all owners of all properties that abut the side or rear property line from which an administrative variance is sought; or in the case of an administrative variance request for front setback adjustment, all owners of all properties that abut a side property line of the subject property and those whose properties lie directly across the street from the subject property; and
[4] 
A scale drawing of the property showing the location and size of proposed structures and any additions to existing structures, as well as the distance between those structures and/or additions and all property boundaries.
(3) 
Procedure. The Administrative Variance Review Committee shall establish and publish procedures for the processing of applications, including, but not limited to, the following:
(a) 
Upon acceptance of the application, the Administrative Variance Review Committee shall mail a confirmatory notice to all affected property owners providing them with an opportunity to comment on the request within a specified time period.
(b) 
The applicant shall post the property with a notice of the variance request for a period of 10 days after acceptance of the application by the Administrative Variance Review Committee.
(c) 
If adverse comments are received from any property owners objecting to the variance request, the applicant shall be required to withdraw the application and submit a variance request to the Board of Appeals.
(d) 
Prior to making a decision, the Administrative Variance Review Committee may visit the property to verify information contained in the application.
(4) 
Criteria. The Administrative Variance Review Committee may grant setback variances only where it is demonstrated that peculiar and unusual practical difficulties exist on the parcel which warrant a setback variance, and such difficulties are created by exceptional narrowness, shallowness, or shape of the parcel, by reason of exceptional topographical conditions, or by other extraordinary situations or conditions affecting the property. The applicant shall demonstrate that the following additional criteria have been met:
(a) 
Amount of required setback reduction.
[1] 
Option A. The requested variance shall not reduce required setbacks by more than 50%.
[2] 
Option B. The requested variance shall not reduce required setbacks to less than five feet.
(b) 
The area of the proposed structure which lies outside the building restriction line (BRL) for which a variance is requested shall not exceed 100 square feet.
(c) 
Nothing in this section is intended to authorize the Administrative Variance Review Committee to grant variances to state or local requirements that are intended to protect environmentally sensitive areas, such as streams, slopes, wetlands, natural heritage areas, or critical areas.
(d) 
Administrative variances may not be granted for after-the-fact variance requests or to correct a zoning violation. Such variance requests shall be made to the Board of Appeals.
(5) 
Decisions. Unless delayed by actions of the applicant or affected property owners, the Administrative Variance Review Committee shall decide the issue raised by the application within 30 days of acceptance of the application. The decision shall be in writing and shall include findings of fact that support the decision. In granting an administrative variance, the Administrative Variance Review Committee may impose conditions that are reasonable or necessary for the protection of surrounding and neighboring properties. All signs posted by the applicant providing notice of the public hearing shall be removed by the applicant and returned to the Town Office no later than two weeks following the public hearing.
[Amended 5-9-2011 by Ord. No. 149]
(6) 
Denials. If the application is denied, all future variance applications involving substantially the same proposal on the same property shall be submitted to the Board of Appeals.
(7) 
Appeals.
(a) 
Any applicant aggrieved by a decision made pursuant to this section may apply for a variance from the Board of Appeals.
(b) 
Any person or persons, other than the applicant, aggrieved by a decision made pursuant to this section may file an appeal with the Clerk to the Board of Appeals no later than 30 days from the date of the Administrative Variance Review Committee's decision. The Board of Appeals Clerk will schedule the appeal for the next available Board of Appeals public hearing.
(8) 
Fees. The Town of Leonardtown shall be responsible for establishing the fee schedule for administrative variances.
If the application for a special exception or variance is disapproved by the Board of Zoning Appeals, thereafter the Board shall take no further action on another application for substantially the same proposal on the same premises until after two years from the date of such disapproval. If an appeal to the Board is perfected and the public hearing date is set and duly advertised and properly posted and thereafter the applicant withdraws the appeal, he shall be precluded from filing another application for substantially the same proposal on the same premises for one year.
A special exception or variance so approved or granted by the Board of Zoning Appeals shall lapse after the expiration of one year if no substantial construction or change of use has taken place in accordance with the plans for which such special exception or variance was granted. The Board may, however, specify some longer period than one year for good cause shown, and the provisions of these regulations shall thereafter govern.