A variance may be requested when the subject lot has physical constraints that do not allow the construction of a use normally permitted in the same zoning designation. Variances are designed to allow minor modifications on a site, such as increasing the amount of impervious surface on a property, decreasing setbacks, or lot coverage requirements in order to accommodate construction on lots where there is a physical hardship.


The variance process involves submittal of a Variance Application (PDF) packet and payment of the required fees. A Notice of Application for the proposal will be run in the newspaper and sent to properties within either 300 or 1,000 feet of the property.

Staff will then review the application with the Technical Review Committee requesting their comments and conditions of approval and either issue a request for more information or make a recommendation of approval or denial of the application to the Whatcom County Hearing Examiner. A public hearing will be held with the Whatcom County Hearing Examiner and he will either approve or deny the preliminary approval. After approval by the Hearing Examiner the applicant may apply for building permits consistent with the conditions of approval for the variance.