German Village has two large-scale developments undergoing conceptual review with the German Village Historic District Commission. They include an apartment project at 259 E. Livingston Ave. and a proposed hotel at 31 E. Livingston Ave.

Public engagement is a critical component of the application review process, particularly variance requests. This post reviews the variance process. There's more about how to be a public advocate throughout the process on our website: germanvillage.com.

Applications for Certificates of Appropriateness are evaluated by the German Village Commission, whose task is to determine if the various components of the application conform to the German Village Design Guidelines.

On occasion, the project being reviewed will require a variance, sometimes several.

In the case of large-scale development, such as those currently undergoing the conceptual review process, several variances are being requested.

Once an applicant determines what variances their project is going to ask for, they file an application with the city of Columbus Building and Zoning Department. That department then determines which entity, City Council or the City Bureau of Zoning Adjustment, will have the authority to make the determination of approval or denial on the application.

Prior to consideration by either the BZA or City Council, a variance request for a project located within an historic district must appear on the agenda of that specific area commission at its monthly public meeting. The commissions do not approve or deny variance requests associated with a particular application. Instead they consider whether the property in question will yield a reasonable return or whether there can be any beneficial use of the property without a variance.

The facts and conditions below are collectively known as the "Duncan Standard," and are embedded within the BZA application:

* Whether the variance is substantial.

* Whether the essential character of the neighborhood would be substantially altered or whether adjoining properties would suffer a substantial detriment as a result of the variance.

* Whether the variance would adversely affect the delivery of governmental service (e.g., water, sewer, refuse service).

* Whether the property owner purchased the property with knowledge of the zoning restriction.

* Whether the property owner's predicament feasibly can be obviated through some method other than the variance.

* Whether the spirit and intent behind the zoning requirement would be observed and substantial justice done by granting the variance.

The result of the commission's vote to recommend for approval is then reported to the city Department of Building and Zoning Services and attached to the application as it proceeds through the review process.

An application for a variance within an historic district cannot proceed in the application process without a vote to recommend or not recommend by the commission.

German Village Society Historic Preservation Advocate Nancy Kotting submitted the Village Notebook column .