A variance is modification from bulk and placement requirements of Garden City Code Title 8 due to an undue hardship. Provisions related to a variance are found in Garden City Code 8-6B-9.  A variance can only be granted if it is determined that:  


1. The subject property is deprived, by provision of this title, of rights and privileges enjoyed legally by other properties in the vicinity and under the applicable zoning district because of the unique size, shape, topography or location of the subject property (a finding of undue hardship);

2. The need for the variance is not the result of actions of the applicant or property owner;

3. The variance will not unreasonably diminish either the health, safety or welfare of the community neighborhood;

4. The variance is the only reasonable alternative to overcome the undue hardship; and

5. The variance is the minimum relief necessary to allow reasonable use of the subject property.


Step 1 Prior to application:

Variance requests are heard by the Planning and Zoning Commission. 


The forms you will need for a variance are linked throughout this email, as well as a hearing calendar showing key dates and application deadlines.


The variance process begins with a Neighborhood Meeting. The Neighborhood Meeting involves acquiring a list of all property owners within a 300’ radius of the property and mailing them an invite to a meeting to discuss the project. The meeting can be held no sooner than 10 days after the mailing has been sent and must be held between 5:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. M-F. Please contact to obtain the 300’ list. Verification of this meeting is required when your application is submitted to the City.  The information required to provide verification is:

  1. The list of who the notice was sent to; and
  2. The notice that was sent; and
  3. The duration that someone was present (we ask that you stay for a minimum of 30 minutes in case someone is running late); and
  4. A sign-up sheet (if no one showed up, please indicate on the sign-in sheet).


For your convenience the City has drafted templates of a letter and sign-in.  You can opt to use the linked templates or make your forms.


Step 2 Application:

The required application forms can be found here: Variance Application and Affidavit of Legal Interest.  The cost of the Variance application is $630.  North Ada County Fire and Rescue will charge $150 for their review.


Please submit one copy of all application materials and all application materials in electronic format in person or via mail.  The electronic materials can be emailed to


Step 3 Between Submitting the Application and the Hearing:

The Planning and Zoning Commission meet the third Wednesday of every month at 6:30 pm.  Once you have submitted, you will receive your hearing dates via an acceptance letter.  Staff will then send out your application materials to stakeholder agencies and publicly notice the application in accord with statutory requirements. 


Staff will provide you with the public and agency comments that the City receives as well as a staff report that provides a thorough analysis of your application with regards to Garden City Code, Title 8 as well as a synthesis of other agency comments and requirements and public comment to date.  While staff is reviewing your application, they may reach out to you to request clarification or additional materials necessary to complete their review.  Staff will provide you with the draft report in advance of the hearing so that you can provide feedback and let staff know if they have accurately captured the application, made any omissions, or had any misunderstandings.  Please provide feedback quickly so that it can be incorporated prior to the staff report being finalized.  Please also note that not all agency and public comments may be included at that time that staff shares the draft report with you.


All variance applications must post signage on site 10 days in advance of the hearing.  You are responsible for:

  1. Making or having the sign made and posting the sign.  The requirements for the sign can be found in Garden City Code: 8-6A-7 #3
  2. 7 days prior to the hearing date, you will need to provide an affidavit of property posting demonstrating the sign was posted.  Photos of the sign will need to be included with the affidavit Affidavit of Posting. Please submit via mail, in person, or to


Step 4 The Hearings

You or a representative will need to be present at the hearing to represent the application.  The application will be held in the following order:

    1. The Chairperson  will introduce the request.
    2. You will present the application to the Planning and Zoning Commission .  You may prepare a presentation if you like, but it is not required.  The Commission may ask you questions about your proposal.
    3. Garden City Staff will present the Staff Report
    4. Public testimony will be taken.
    5. You will have an opportunity to rebut any public testimony.
    6. The Commission will deliberate and make a decision.


Step 5 After the hearing:

A written decision will be provided to you.  Since the Commission is a volunteer board and are not employees, it may take several days to get you a signed decision.


There is a 15 day appeal period where you or someone who provided written or verbal testimony on the application may appeal the decision to the City Council.  If no appeal is received, the decision is final.  If there is an appeal, it will be scheduled in accordance with Garden City Code 8-6A-9: Link


Please keep in mind that the City has very important deadlines that must be met for each application. If these deadlines are not met by the applicant, the city will be forced to move your application to a date certain. You are not guaranteed to be scheduled for the next meeting.