League City officials were right in their refusal to grant a zoning variance to a local business owner.
Nelly Quijano, who owns a McDonald’s at the corner of FM 518 and the west side of Interstate 45, lost an appeal earlier this month to rebuild a sign at the height it was before the Texas Department of Transportation began work in the area.
The League City Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously against her request at the 90-minute meeting that included a public hearing.
The League City council had denied Quijano’s request in April. The council voted against an amendment to the city sign ordinance that would have made an exception in her case.
“This is a perfect opportunity to adhere to ordinances,” resident Peggy Zahler said.
While it might seem Quijano’s request is a simple one, in the bigger picture, it offers a big question. Why pass laws and ordinances if we are not going to adhere to them?
The compelling reason to granting a waiver to comply with an ordinance should be that it serves as being good for the community. While the variance from the ordinance that Quijano was requesting could arguably have been in the best interest of her business, there was no compelling reason that it would be in the best interest of the community.
Each time a waiver or variance from an ordinance or a law is granted, it serves to create a loophole and, eventually, a muddling of the intent of the rules.
That isn’t to say that variances should not be granted. As in the case with League City, though, the variances should only be granted after thoughtful discussion.
The council in April rejected amending the ordinance governing the height of the sign and the zoning board of appeals voted unanimously against Quijano’s request.
With its rapid growth in the past decade, League City officials have struggled to keep planning on pace with progress.
City codes, likewise, need to be written and changed to keep up with the progress. But changes to the code should not be done on a case-by-case basis, which by allowing too many variances ultimately achieves only to muddy the intent of the ordinance.
Variances should only be allowed in unusual circumstances. Quijano’s request didn’t fit into that category.
• Dave Mathews