Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

394.27 CREATION AND DUTIES OF BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT.
    Subdivision 1. When controls adopted. Whenever a board of county commissioners shall
have adopted official controls it shall at the same time as the adoption of such controls create a
board of adjustment by ordinance.
    Subd. 2. Procedure, qualifications. The board of adjustment shall consist of at least three
but not more than seven members, including at least one member from the unincorporated
area of the county, whose appointment, term of office, or removal from the board shall be as
provided in the ordinance creating the board of adjustment; provided that no elected officer of
the county nor any employee of the board of commissioners shall serve as a member of the
board of adjustment and that one member of such board of adjustment shall also be a member
of any planning commission appointed under the provisions of sections 394.21 to 394.37. In an
ordinance creating a three-member board of adjustment, provision may be made for one alternate
member. The alternate board member shall, when directed by the chair, attend all meetings of the
board and participate fully in its activities but shall not vote on any issue unless authorized to do
so by the chair. The chair shall authorize the alternate board member to vote on an issue when
a regular member is absent, physically incapacitated, abstains because of a possible conflict of
interest, or is prohibited by law from voting on that issue. Any question of whether a particular
issue involves a conflict of interest sufficient to disqualify a regular board member from voting
thereon shall be decided by majority vote of all regular board members except the member who is
being challenged. In the ordinance establishing the board of adjustment provision may be made
for removal of any member for nonperformance of duty or misconduct in office and for the
filling of vacancies for any unexpired term. The regular and alternate members of such board
of adjustment may be paid compensation in an amount determined by the county board and
may be paid their necessary expenses in attending meetings of the board and in the conduct of
the business of the board.
    Subd. 3. Officers. The board of adjustment shall elect a chair and vice-chair from among
its members and shall appoint a secretary who need not be a member of a board. It shall adopt
rules for the transaction of its business and shall keep a public record of its transaction, findings,
and determinations.
    Subd. 4. Meetings. The meetings of the board of adjustment shall be held at the call of the
chair and at such other times as the board in its rules of procedure may specify.
    Subd. 5. Authority. The board of adjustment shall have the authority to order the issuance
of variances, hear and decide appeals from and review any order, requirement, decision, or
determination made by any administrative official charged with enforcing any ordinance adopted
pursuant to the provision of sections 394.21 to 394.37, order the issuance of permits for buildings
in areas designated for future public use on an official map, and perform such other duties as
required by the official controls. Such appeal may be taken by any person aggrieved or by any
officer, department, board or bureau of a town, municipality, county, or state. In exercising its
powers under this subdivision, the board of adjustment shall take into consideration the town
board's recommendation when the board of adjustment's decision directly affects land within
the town.
    Subd. 6. Appeals. An appeal from any order, requirement, decision, or determination of any
administrative official shall be taken in such time as shall be prescribed by the ordinance creating
the board of adjustment by filing with the board of adjustment a notice of appeal specifying
the grounds thereof. The board of adjustment shall fix a reasonable time for the hearing of the
appeal and give due notice thereof to the appellant and the officer from whom the appeal is taken
and to the public and decide the same within a reasonable time which shall be defined in the
ordinance establishing the board of adjustment. An appeal stays all proceedings in furtherance of
the action appealed from unless the board of adjustment to whom the appeal is taken certifies
that by reason of the facts stated in the certificate a stay would cause imminent peril to life or
property. The board of adjustment may reverse or affirm wholly or partly, or may modify the
order, requirement, decision, or determination appealed from and to that end shall have all the
powers of the officer from whom the appeal was taken and may direct the issuance of a permit.
The reasons for the board's decision shall be stated in writing.
    Subd. 7. Variances; hardship. The board of adjustment shall have the exclusive power to
order the issuance of variances from the terms of any official control including restrictions placed
on nonconformities. Variances shall only be permitted when they are in harmony with the general
purposes and intent of the official control in cases when there are practical difficulties or particular
hardship in the way of carrying out the strict letter of any official control, and when the terms
of the variance are consistent with the comprehensive plan. "Hardship" as used in connection
with the granting of a variance means the property in question cannot be put to a reasonable
use if used under the conditions allowed by the official controls; the plight of the landowner is
due to circumstances unique to the property not created by the landowner; and the variance, if
granted, will not alter the essential character of the locality. Economic considerations alone
shall not constitute a hardship if a reasonable use for the property exists under the terms of
the ordinance. Variances shall be granted for earth sheltered construction as defined in section
216C.06, subdivision 14, when in harmony with the official controls. No variance may be granted
that would allow any use that is prohibited in the zoning district in which the subject property is
located. The board of adjustment may impose conditions in the granting of variances to insure
compliance and to protect adjacent properties and the public interest. The board of adjustment
may consider the inability to use solar energy systems a "hardship" in the granting of variances.
    Subd. 8. Filing orders. A certified copy of any order issued by the board of adjustment
acting upon an appeal from an order, requirement, decision or determination by an administrative
official, or a request for a variance, shall be recorded with the county recorder or registrar of titles.
The order issued by the board of adjustment shall include the legal description of the property
involved. The board by ordinance shall designate the county official or employee responsible for
meeting the requirements of this subdivision.
    Subd. 9. Appeal to district court. All decisions by the board of adjustment in granting
variances or in hearing appeals from any administrative order, requirement, decision, or
determination shall be final except that any aggrieved person or persons, or any department, board
or commission of the jurisdiction or of the state shall have the right to appeal within 30 days,
after receipt of notice of the decision, to the district court in the county in which the land is
located on questions of law and fact.
History: 1959 c 559 s 7; 1963 c 692 s 5; 1974 c 571 s 23-29; 1976 c 181 s 2; 1978 c
786 s 13; Ex1979 c 2 s 40; 1981 c 356 s 248; 1984 c 392 s 1; 1986 c 444; 1987 c 312 art 1 s
10 subd 1; 2005 c 4 s 97