Code of the District of Columbia

§ 6–641.07. Board of Zoning Adjustment.

(a) A Board of Zoning Adjustment is hereby created which shall be composed of 1 member of the National Capital Planning Commission or a member of the staff thereof to be designated in either case by such Commission and appointed by the Mayor of the District of Columbia; 1 member of the Zoning Commission or a member of the staff thereof to be designated in either case by such Commission and appointed by the Mayor of the District of Columbia; and 3 other members appointed by the Mayor of the District of Columbia with the advice and consent of the Council of the District of Columbia, each of whom shall have been a resident of the District of Columbia for at least 3 years immediately preceding his appointment and at least 1 of whom shall own his own home.

(b) The representative of the National Capital Planning Commission may be changed from time to time by such Commission in its discretion and in case of a vacancy in the position by death, resignation, or other disability, a new representative shall be designated by the said Commission and appointed by the Commissioners of the District of Columbia to fill said vacancy. The representative of the Zoning Commission may be changed from time to time by such Commission in its discretion and in case of a vacancy in the position by death, resignation, or other disability, a new representative shall be designated by the said Commission and appointed by the Commissioners of the District of Columbia to fill said vacancy. The terms of the 3 members appointed by the Mayor of the District of Columbia with the advice and consent of the Council of the District of Columbia shall be 3 years each, excepting that, in the case of the initial appointments, 1 shall be for a term of 1 year and one for a term of 2 years. In case of any vacancy in the position of any of the 3 members appointed by the Mayor of the District of Columbia with the advice and consent of the Council of the District of Columbia, the same shall be filled for the remainder of the term.

(c) The Zoning Commission may provide and specify in its zoning regulations general rules to govern the organization and procedure of the Board of Adjustment not inconsistent with the provisions of this subchapter, and the Board of Adjustment may adopt supplemental rules of procedure which shall be subject to the approval of the Zoning Commission after public hearing thereon as provided in § 6-641.03. The Board of Adjustment shall choose its Chairman and its other officers. All meetings of the Board shall be open to the public. The Board shall keep minutes of its proceedings showing the vote of each member upon each question, or if absent or failing to vote indicating such fact, and shall keep records of its examinations and other official actions, all of which shall be immediately filed in the office of the Board and shall be a public record.

(d) The regulations adopted by the Zoning Commission may provide that the Board of Adjustment may in appropriate cases and subject to appropriate principles, standards, rules, conditions, and safeguards set forth in the regulations, make special exceptions to the provisions of the zoning regulations in harmony with their general purpose and intent. The Commission may also authorize the Board of Adjustment to interpret the zoning maps and pass upon disputed questions of lot lines or district boundary lines or similar questions as they arise in the administration of the regulations.

(e) The Board of Adjustment shall not have the power to amend any regulation or map.

(f) Appeals to the Board of Adjustment may be taken by any person aggrieved, or organization authorized to represent such person, or by any officer or department of the government of the District of Columbia or the federal government affected, by any decision of the Inspector of Buildings granting or refusing a building permit or granting or withholding a certificate of occupancy, or any other administrative decision based in whole or in part upon any zoning regulation or map adopted under this subchapter. The Mayor of the District of Columbia may require and fix the fee to be charged for an appeal, which fee shall be paid, as directed by said Mayor, with the filing of the appeal; provided, that no citizens’ association, or association created for civic purposes and not for profit shall be required to pay said fee. There shall be a public hearing on appeal.

(g) Upon appeals the Board of Adjustment shall have the following powers:

(1) To hear and decide appeals where it is alleged by the appellant that there is error in any order, requirement, decision, determination, or refusal made by the Inspector of Buildings or the Mayor of the District of Columbia or any other administrative officer or body in the carrying out or enforcement of any regulation adopted pursuant to this subchapter;

(2) To hear and decide, in accordance with the provisions of the regulations adopted by the Zoning Commission, requests for special exceptions or map interpretations or for decisions upon other special questions upon which such Board is required or authorized by the regulations to pass;

(3) Where, by reason of exceptional narrowness, shallowness, or shape of a specific piece of property at the time of the original adoption of the regulations or by reason of exceptional topographical conditions or other extraordinary or exceptional situation or condition of a specific piece of property, the strict application of any regulation adopted under this subchapter would result in peculiar and exceptional practical difficulties to or exceptional and undue hardship upon the owner of such property, to authorize, upon an appeal relating to such property, a variance from such strict application so as to relieve such difficulties or hardship, provided such relief can be granted without substantial detriment to the public good and without substantially impairing the intent, purpose, and integrity of the zone plan as embodied in the zoning regulations and map;

(4) In exercising the above-mentioned powers, the Board of Adjustment may, in conformity with the provisions of this subchapter, reverse or affirm, wholly or partly, or may modify the order, requirement, decision, determination, or refusal appealed from or may make such order as may be necessary to carry out its decision or authorization, and to that end shall have all the powers of the officer or body from whom the appeal is taken.

(h) The concurring vote of not less than a full majority of the members of the Board shall be necessary for any decision or order.

(i) Nothing herein contained shall prohibit the Zoning Commission from providing by regulation for appeals to it from any action of the Board of Zoning Adjustment.


(June 20, 1938, 52 Stat. 799, ch. 534, § 8; Feb. 24, 1987, D.C. Law 6-191, § 2, 33 DCR 7939a.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 5-424.

1973 Ed., § 5-420.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 1-523.01, § 6-641.12, and § 6-641.13.

Cross References

Board of Zoning Adjustment, chairman and members, compensation, see § 1-611.08.

Election campaigns, candidates, disclosure of financial interests, see § 1-1106.02.

Mayoral nomination of agency heads, review and approval of Council, see § 1-523.01.

Transfer of Functions

“National Capital Planning Commission” was substituted for “National Capital Park and Planning Commission” in subsection (a) and in the first sentence in subsection (b) of this section in view of the Act of June 6, 1924, ch. 270, § 9, as added by the Act of July 19, 1952, 66 Stat. 790, ch. 949, § 1, which transferred the functions, powers, and duties of the National Capital Park and Planning Commission to the National Capital Planning Commission.

Editor's Notes

Office of Inspector of Buildings abolished: Section 3 of the Act of December 20, 1944, 58 Stat. 822, ch. 611, transferred all the duties, powers, rights, and authority of the Inspector of Buildings of the District of Columbia to the Director of Inspection of the District of Columbia. The Department of Inspections was abolished and the functions thereof transferred to the Board of Commissioners of the District of Columbia by Reorganization Plan No. 5 of 1952. Reorganization Order No. 55 of the Board of Commissioners, dated June 30, 1953, and amended August 13, 1953, and December 17, 1953, established, under the direction and control of a Commissioner, a Department of Licenses and Inspections headed by a Director. The Order set out the purpose, organization, and functions of the new Department. The Order provided that all of the functions and positions of the following named organizations were transferred to the new Department of Licenses and Inspections: The Department of Inspections including the Engineering Section, the Building Inspection Section, the Electrical Section, the Elevator Inspection Section, the Fire Safety Inspection Section, the Plumbing Inspection Section, the Smoke and Boiler Inspection Section, and the Administrative Section, and similarly the Department of Weights, Measures and Markets, the License Bureau, the License Board, the License Committee, the Board of Special Appeals, the Board for the Condemnation of Dangerous and Unsafe Buildings, and the Central Permit Bureau. The Order provided that in accordance with the provisions of Reorganization Plan No. 5 of 1952, the named organizations were abolished. The executive functions of the Board of Commissioners were transferred to the Commissioner of the District of Columbia by § 401 of Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1967. Functions vested in the Department of Licenses and Inspection by Reorganization Order No. 55 were transferred to the Director of the Department of Economic Development by Commissioner’s Order No. 69-96, dated March 7, 1969. The Department of Economic Development was replaced by Mayor’s Order No. 78-42, dated February 17, 1978, which Order established the Department of Licenses, Investigation and Inspections. The Department of Licenses, Investigation and Inspections was transferred to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs by Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1983.

Delegation of Authority

Delegation of authority under Zoning Act, see Mayor’s Order 83-165, June 7, 1983.

Change in Government

This section originated at a time when local government powers were delegated to a Board of Commissioners of the District of Columbia (see Acts Relating to the Establishment of the District of Columbia and its Various Forms of Governmental Organization in Volume 1). Section 401 of Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1967 (see Reorganization Plans in Volume 1) transferred all of the functions of the Board of Commissioners under this section to a single Commissioner. The District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, 87 Stat. 818, § 711 ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.11), abolished the District of Columbia Council and the Office of Commissioner of the District of Columbia. These branches of government were replaced by the Council of the District of Columbia and the Office of Mayor of the District of Columbia, respectively. Accordingly, and also pursuant to § 714(a) of such Act ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.14(a)), appropriate changes in terminology were made in this section.