Zoning Board of Appeals

The Zoning Board of Appeals is empowered by the Connecticut General Statutes, Section 8-6. Under its authority, the ZBA considers requests for variances due to hardship and conducts hearings on appeals of a decision by, or an order of, the Zoning Enforcement Officer.


A Variance constitutes permission to act in a manner that is otherwise prohibited under the Zoning Regulations of the Borough. Therefore, an applicant must show that because of some peculiar characteristic of that specific property, the strict application of the Zoning Regulations produces an “exceptional difficulty or unusual hardship.” Since a hardship is granted for the property not the owner, the hardship must apply to the conditions of the property, not personal circumstance. Furthermore, the hardship must differ from the general conditions that affect other properties in the same area and must arise from circumstances beyond the control of the applicant.

Every application for a variance requires a Public Hearing. The Public Hearing can proceed only when the application is complete, including any and all necessary documents; when the applicant supplies evidence of certified mail notification to the owners of record in the Assessor’s office of all properties within 200 feet of the subject property’s boundaries, as to the nature of the request and the date of the hearing. The applicant or his/her designated agent or attorney must attend the hearing.

The burden of proof of a hardship is on the owner who should be prepared to explain why the unusual characteristics of the property make it more difficult to use the property in compliance with the Zoning Regulations than it is for other owners of property in the same district. Financial constraints, health problems or any self-created hardship cannot justify a variance.

The inclusion of photographs depicting existing conditions is advised. All documents presented at the hearing will become evidence in the application file and will not be returned.

The ZBA, in its discretion, may deny any application for failure to comply with any of its guidelines and procedures. It is also authorized to attach to the grant of a variance such conditions, safeguards, and stipulations as it may deem necessary or appropriate to prevent or diminish any adverse affect on the community.

If the ZBA denies the request, the applicant can appeal the decision to Superior Court of the State of CT. An applicant may also resubmit an application, but the Board is not obligated to hear a similar request for six months from the date of its original decision.

All ZBA approvals require a positive vote from four of the five members (or their alternates).

No variance is effective until a copy thereof, certified by the ZBA, is recorded in the Old Saybrook Land Records by the land owner. It must contain a description of the premises to which it relates and specify the nature of the variance, including the Regulation(s) varied in its application and the name of the owner of record.