Zoning Board of Appeals

The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) is a quasi-judicial appellate board empowered to interpret and grant relief from the City Zoning Ordinance.  The ZBA hears three main types of requests: Area Variances, Use Variances and Interpretations.

A Use Variance permits a use other than those permitted by the Zoning Ordinance for the zoning district that the subject property is in.  An Area Variance modifies site development requirements for permitted uses, such as lot size, yard, setbacks and density restrictions.  

An Interpretation allows a landowner to appeal the Zoning Enforcement Officer’s interpretation of the Zoning Ordinance to the ZBA, which then reviews the section of code under appeal and the situation that prompted the appeal and issues its own interpretation to either uphold or supersede the Zoning Enforcement Officer’s original ruling.

As an appellate board, a landowner must have standing to apply to the ZBA.  An applicant proves standing by supplying the record of denial that prompted the request, typically in the form of a denied Zoning Compliance Certificate.

For Variances, the ZBA must base its decision upon the standards of proof contained in Section 81-b of New York State General City law.  For Interpretations, the ZBA will base its decision on the City’s Zoning Ordinance.   The burden of proof is on the applicant when applying to the ZBA for a Variance or Interpretation.

Membership on the board is by City Manager appointment.  Each of the board’s five members serve staggered five-year terms.  Residency within the City is a requirement to be eligible for appointment.

Meetings take place at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of every month in Council Chambers at City Hall.  Special meetings occur occasionally as needed. 

Term of Members:  Five-year term appointed by the City Manager

Name of MemberTerm Expires
Allison I. Crossman12/31/2022
Christin D. Filippelli12/31/2023
Benjamin E. Grass12/31/2024
Samuel Thomas12/31/2025
Cheryl Nielsen12/31/2026

Zoning Board of Appeals Links:

Contact:
Planning Department
245 Washington St
Watertown NY 13601
Phone: (315) 785 7741
Email:planning@watertown-ny.gov