The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) is established by state statute to hear appeals and to vary the application of Zoning Regulations in cases where enforcement of the regulations would result in exceptional difficulty or unusual hardship. However, variances granted by the ZBA must always be in the "spirit" of the Zoning Regulations, and courts have ruled that the ZBA cannot consider economic hardship as a possible justification for granting a variance.
The ZBA has five members elected at-large to four-year staggered terms, as well as three alternates elected to serve four-year terms. Hearings are normally held once a month, and anyone needing a hearing must first obtain a referral from the Zoning Agent.
A schedule of meeting dates can be obtained from the zoning agent. Although the ZBA rules on appeals from the decisions of the Zoning Agent, appeals from decisions of the Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC) itself are not heard by the Board and are made directly to Connecticut Superior Court. As a quasi-judicial body, the ZBA must conduct public hearings before ruling on an application, and four of its five members must concur for most actions. Persons wishing to appeal a decision of the ZBA may take the appeal directly to Superior Court.