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Board of Adjustment

The Board of Adjustment of the City of Norman is composed of five citizens of the community appointed for three year terms.

The Board is a quasi-judicial body that has the authority, under State and local law to grant variances to specific zoning regulations which may result in hardship on the property that is unnecessary to carry out the spirit of the ordinance.

In the enforcement of the Zoning Ordinance, the powers of the Board are in three specific areas:

  1. To decide Appeals where it is alleged that an administrative official has made an error in the enforcement of the Ordinance
  2. To hear and decide Special Exceptions as provided in the Zoning Ordinance and Sign Code.
  3. To hear and authorize Variances as provided in the Zoning Ordinance and Sign Code.

The Board also grants Minor Variances that meet the requirements of the Minor Variance provision of the Zoning Ordinance.


In the everyday administration of the Zoning Ordinance or Sign Code, officials of the City must interpret the provisions of the Ordinance. On doing so, the City official makes certain requirements of property owners based on his interpretation of the Ordinance. If any person feels a city official has made an error in his enforcement of the ordinance (i.e., the City official has required something of a property owner that is not authorized by the Ordinance), that person can appeal the action of the administrative official to the Board of Adjustment. The Board would decide whether or not an error has been made.

Special Exceptions

The Board of Adjustment is empowered to grant special exceptions for certain uses that are specifically enumerated in the Zoning Ordinance. The Board's power to grant special exception is limited to the following instances:

  1. to permit the extension of a zoning district boundary where a lot under one ownership is divided into more than one district;
  2. to permit the reconstruction of a non-conforming building that has been destroyed by a fire or act of God;
  3. to interpret the provisions of the ordinance where the maps of an area do not agree with the actual street layout;
  4. to grant certain exception to the off-street parking requirements of the Ordinance;
  5. to permit new structures to be built in the designated floodway of the Flood Hazard District on lots which are surrounded by lots with existing structures below the base flood level;
  6. to grant Special Exceptions to the Sign Code for particular signs, such as low profile planter-type signs, marquee signs, signs and structures in pedestrian areas such as kiosks, permanent ornamental subdivision signs and buildings which are interpreted to be signs.


Under Chapter 22, in each zoning district the Zoning Ordinance makes certain requirements for the height, lot area, open space, setbacks and landscaping.

Under Chapter 18, the Sign Code makes certain requirements for the height, setback, number and size of signs.

The ordinance recognizes that in certain unique instances, the strict enforcement of the of the provisions of the ordinance would result in undue hardship to the property owner. Therefore, the Ordinance authorizes the Board of Adjustment to grant variances (i.e., a relaxation of the strict provisions of the Ordinance that deal with the height of structures and the area and size of yards and open space, but not the maximum permitted sign area), if the property owner can show that:

  1. there are special conditions or circumstances peculiar to the land or structure involved;
  2. the special conditions or circumstances do not result from the actions of the applicant;
  3. the literal interpretation of the provisions of the Ordinance would deprive the applicant of rights enjoyed by others in the same district;
  4. the granting of the variance will not confer special privileges on the applicant that are denied to other lands and/or structures in the same district.

In the granting of the variance, the burden is upon the applicant to show that he meets each of the requirements listed above.

Minor Variances

In each zoning district the Zoning Ordinance makes certain requirements for the height of structures and the area and size of yards and open spaces. The term "minor variance" covers situations.

Applications and Assistance

Applications for appeals, special exceptions, variances and minor variances are available in the Planning Department office.

Assistance for completing these applications will be provided by the Planning Staff