Area Board of Zoning Appeals

The Area Board of Zoning Appeals (ABZA) meets each month to hear requests on various zoning related issues (see below). 

Agendas, filing deadlines with the meeting schedule, the fee schedule, and application forms (petitions) are available below.


Service Area

The ABZA serves St. Joseph County and the Towns of Lakeville, New Carlisle, North Liberty, Osceola, and Roseland. 


A variance is a grant of relief from the requirements of the zoning ordinance, which permits construction in a manner otherwise prohibited where specific enforcement would result in unnecessary hardship.

A variance means you don’t have to follow the law like everyone else!

Because of this variances are rare and not easily obtained.

Hardship: The Area Board of Zoning Appeals requires that the variance is exceptional, unusual, and peculiar to the property involved. Mere economic or financial hardship alone is NOT exceptional.

Inconvenience, aesthetic considerations, physical handicaps, personal preferences, or the disapproval of one’s neighbors likewise cannot, as a rule, qualify as an exceptional hardship.

All of these problems can be resolved through other means without granting a variance, even if the alternative is more expensive, or requires the property owner to build elsewhere or put the parcel to a different use than originally intended.

ABZA Membership

The ABZA has seven members, as set by state law (IC 36-7-4-902(c)). Please note that the ABZA works similar to a jury in a court case. They are not permitted what is called ex-parte contact. Meaning petitioners and the public should not approach them about the cases they consider before they hear the case in the public hearing. Similarly, members of the Board will abstain from participating in a petition if they have a conflict of interest.

Member NameTerm End DatePositionAppointing Authority
Joseph Velleman
ChairLegislative bodies of participating towns
Sidney A. Shafer
Vice ChairCounty legislative body - County Council (citizen)
Robert M. Hawley12/31/2022MemberArea Plan Commission from its membership (county representative)
James D. Moffitt
12/31/2021MemberArea Plan Commission from its membership (municipal representative)
DJ Tavernier12/31/2024
County executive - Board of Commissioners (citizen)
Donny Ritsema, AICP
12/31/2022MemberCounty legislative body - County Council (citizen)
Vacant12/31/2022MemberCounty legislative body - County Council (citizen)

ABZA Establishment

The ABZA was established in accordance with Indiana Code 36-7-4-900 et seq.

ABZA Meetings

When: 2nd Wednesday of each Month

Time: 1:30pm

Location: 4th Floor County-City Building