Seek a Variance from Land Use Standards


If it is difficult to develop your property due to its unique physical characteristics, you may want to apply for a variance. A variance allows for flexibility, adaptability, and reasonableness in the application and administration of the Salem Revised Code (SRC) where special conditions exist that create an unreasonable hardship or practical difficult that limit the suitability of land for development.

Requirements pertaining to variances are contained in SRC Chapter 245.

Variances cannot be granted to:

  1. Allow a use or activity not allowed under the Unified Development Code SRC Chapters 110-900
  2. Change the status of a use or activity
  3. Modify a definition or use classification
  4. Modify a use standard
  5. Modify the applicability of any requirement
  6. Modify a development standard specifically identified as non-variable
  7. Modify a development standard that contains the word “prohibited”
  8. Modify procedural requirements
  9. A design review guideline or design review standard

An application for a Variance is processed as a Type III procedure under SRC Chapter 300.


  • Pre-application conference. A pre-application conference is required as the first step in the Variance process. The Planning Administrator may waive this mandatory pre-application conference when the application is simple and good cause is shown by the applicant. Submit a completed waiver application form if you want a waiver.

  • Neighborhood Association Contact. Neighborhood association contact, pursuant to SRC 300.310, is required prior to submitting this land use application.  Prior to submitting a land use application requiring neighborhood association contact, the applicant shall contact the City-recognized neighborhood association(s) whose boundaries include, or are adjacent to, the subject property via e-mail or mailed letter. The e-mail or mailed letter shall be sent to the chair(s) and land use chair(s) of the applicable neighborhood association(s) prior to submitting the land use application and contain the following information:

    • The name, telephone number, and e-mail address of the applicant;

    • The address of the subject property;

    • A summary of the proposal;

    • A conceptual site plan, if applicable, that includes the proposed development; and

    • The date on which the e-mail or letter is being sent.

  • Application. You must submit all required items listed in the application checklist section below to the Permit Application Center.

  • Completeness review. Staff reviews application for completeness. If the application is not complete, you will be notified as to what information is missing and will have 180 days to submit the additional information. You may track the status of your application online at the City of Salem permit tracking webpage.

  • Public hearing.

    • Once the required information is submitted and the application is deemed complete, staff sets a date for a public hearing with the Hearings Officer and sends notice to the applicant, property owner, neighborhood association, property owners within 250 ft., all addresses within 250 ft., all addresses on the subject property and any active and duly incorporated Homeowner's Association (HOA) involving the subject property.

    • Staff also prepares signs for the applicant to post along the street frontage(s) of the property 10 to 14 days prior to the hearing.

    • The Hearings Officer holds the public hearing. At the hearing, staff presents the staff report. This is followed by testimony from the applicant, neighborhood association representative, proponent(s), opponent(s), and rebuttal.

  • Decision. The Hearings Officer issues a decision to approve or deny the application based upon whether the proposal meets the applicable criteria for a variance under SRC 245.005(d).

Application checklist

You need to apply in person at the Permit Application Center, bringing the following:

  • Completed land use application form. The application form must be signed by the applicant(s), property owner(s), and/or duly authorized representative(s). If the applicant and/or property owner is a Limited Liability Company (LLC), please also provide a list of all members of the LLC with your land use application.

  • Application fee. You must pay the application fee when you file your application.

  • Recorded deeds. You must submit a copy of the recorded deeds for the existing units of land.

  • Homeowners Association Information. A statement indicating whether the subject property is subject to an active and duly incorporated Homeowner's Association (HOA) registered with the Oregon Secretary of State. If so, the applicant shall provide the HOA name, name of the registered agent and the mailing address for the registered agent.

  • Neighborhood Association Contact. A copy of the required e-mail or letter to the neighborhood association, and a list of the e-mail or postal addresses to which the e-mail or letter was sent shall be submitted or the land use application will not be accepted.

  • Written statement. You must submit a written statement describing the proposal and how it conforms to the following approval criteria for a Variance SRC 245.005(d):

    • There is an unreasonable hardship or practical difficulty created by the physical characteristics of the land.

    • The variance will not result in adverse effects that are unreasonably detrimental to the public health, safety, and welfare or to property or improvements in the vicinity.

  • Site plan. The site plan must include all information necessary to establish satisfaction with the approval criteria. By way of example, but not limitation, such information may include the following:

    • Title Block: Type of application (i.e., Variance Application), date, applicant’s name, location of subject property, scale, directional (north) arrow

    • Total site area, dimensions, and orientation relative to north

    • Location of proposed primary and accessory structures and other improvements, including fences, walls, and driveways, indicating distance to such structures from property lines and adjacent on-site structures

    • All proposed landscape areas on the site, with an indication of square footage and as a percentage of site area

    • Location, height, and material of fences, berms, walls, and other proposed screening as they relate to landscaping and screening required by SRC Chapter 807

    • Location of all trees and vegetation required to be protected pursuant to SRC Chapter 808

    • Identification of vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle parking and circulation areas, including handicapped parking stalls, disembarking areas, accessible routes of travel, and proposed ramps

  • Existing conditions plan. The existing conditions plan must include the following information:

    • Title Block: Type of application (i.e., Variance Application), date, applicant's name, location of subject property, scale, directional (north) arrow

    • Total site area, dimensions, and orientation relative to north

    • Location of existing structures and other improvements on the site, including accessory structures, fences, walls, and driveways, noting distance from property lines and whether they are to be removed

    • Location of 100-year flood plain, if applicable

    • Location of drainage patterns and drainage courses, if applicable

Contact us

Permit Application Center Planning Desk
8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
555 Liberty ST SE RM 320
Salem OR 97301
Mailing address:
555 Liberty ST SE RM 305
Salem OR 97301
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