Every community that enacts a zoning ordinance must have a Board of Appeals. The board's authority to grant variances serves the purpose of giving the ordinance some flexibility when a land use question arises in the community that has not been anticipated by said ordinance. The Board of Appeals is authorized to hear variance requests in matters relating to all zoning ordinances, as well as shoreland / wetland and floodplain zoning ordinances. The Board of Appeals acts as an agent of the local government in deciding variance requests as it upholds the intent of the zoning ordinance while ensuring substantial justice for the property owner.
The board is considered to be a quasi-judicial body because it acts somewhat like a court as it follows accepted procedures and evaluates the relevant facts in each case that is heard at the public meeting.