(a) A city shall have authority to (i) classify all or a portion of the streets in the city according to their size, present and anticipated traffic loads, and other characteristics relevant to the achievement of the purposes of this section, and (ii) establish by ordinance minimum distances that buildings and other permanent structures or improvements constructed along each class or type of street shall be set back from the right-of-way line or the center line of an existing or proposed street. Portions of any street may be classified in a manner different from other portions of the same street where the characteristics of the portions differ.
(b) Any setback line shall be designed
(1) To promote the public safety by providing adequate sight distances for persons using the street and its sidewalks, lessening congestion in the street and sidewalks, facilitating the safe movement of vehicular and pedestrian traffic on the street and sidewalks and providing adequate fire lanes between buildings, and
(2) To protect the public health by keeping dwellings and other structures an adequate distance from the dust, noise, and fumes created by traffic on the street and by insuring an adequate supply of light and air.
(c) A setback-line ordinance shall permit affected property owners to appeal to the council for variance or modification of setback requirements as they apply to a particular piece of property. The council may vary or modify the requirements upon a showing that
(1) The peculiar nature of the property results in practical difficulties or unnecessary hardships that impede carrying out the strict letter of the requirement,
(2) The property will not yield a reasonable return or cannot be put to reasonable use unless relief is granted, and
(3) Balancing the public interest in enforcing the setback requirements and the interest of the owner, the grant of relief is required by considerations of justice and equity.
In granting relief, the council may impose reasonable and appropriate conditions and safeguards to protect the interest of neighboring properties. The council may delegate authority to hear appeals under setback-line ordinances to any authorized body to hear appeals under zoning ordinances. If this is done, appeal to the council from the board shall be governed by the same laws and rules as appeals from decisions granting or denying variances or modifications under the zoning ordinance. (1971, c. 698, s. 1; 1987, c. 747. ss. 13, 14.)
Last modified: March 23, 2014