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land use

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Master Land Use Application Required Forms

Master Land Use Application Form

Ownership Certification form

Critical Areas Identification Checklist

Agreement to Reimburse Professional Consulting Services Expenses

Site Plan Checklist

 

  • ...
    ...
  • Admin Temporary
    Use Permit (ATUP)
  • Binding Site
    Plans
  • Boundary Line
    Adjustment
  • Conditional
    Use
  • Critical Area
    Permit (CAP)
  • Planned Unit Residential
    Development (PURD)
  • SEPA
    CHECKLIST
  • Shorelines
  • Similar Use
    Determination
  • Site Plan
    Review
  • Subdivision
    Final Plat
  • Subdivison
    Preliminary Plat
  • Variance
    Information

ADMINISTRATIVE TEMPORARY USE PERMIT


The City may permit uses to locate within the city on an interim basis without requiring full compliance with the development standards for the applicable zoning district. Uses which may be authorized as temporary uses are enumerated in various zoning districts.

An Administrative Temporary Use shall be reviewed and decided upon by the Community Development Director. To qualify for an administrative temporary use, the following criteria must be met, as outlined in WMC 17.70.050, and should be addressed in the required narrative:

  • The temporary use will not be materially detrimental to the public health, safety, or welfare, nor injurious to property or improvements in the immediate vicinity.
  • The temporary use is compatible with the purpose and intent of Title 17, and the specific zoning district in which it will be located.
  • The temporary use is compatible in intensity and appearance with existing land uses in the immediate vicinity.
  • Structures proposed for the temporary use comply with the setback requirements of the specific zoning district in which it will be located.
  • An adequate on-site parking area is available to serve the temporary use.
  • Hours of operation of the temporary use are specified.
  • The temporary use will not cause noise, light, or glare which adversely impacts surrounding land uses.
  • The use must provide sanitary facilities if the director or designee finds it to be necessary.

A temporary use permit is valid for up to one hundred eighty (180) calendar days from the effective date of the permit; however, the director may establish a shorter time frame. The director may grant one extension not to exceed sixty days upon the applicant showing compliance with all conditions of permit approval. The property owner or holder of a temporary use permit may not file an application for a successive temporary use permit for sixty (60) days following the expiration of an approved permit applying to that property. Within five (5) days of the expiration of the temporary use permit, the applicant shall have the use and all physical evidence removed from the site.

BINDING SITE PLAN (BSP)

A Binding Site Plan (BSP) is required for any proposal which involves the division of commercial or industrial property for the purpose of sale, lease or transfer of ownership without completing the platting process pursuant to WMC Title 16 and RCW Chapter 58.17. There are two types of Binding Site Plan:

A Binding Site Plan for new development includes all applications to create legal lots in conjunction with a new development.

A Binding Site Plan for an existing development pertains to all applications to create legal lots in conjunction with an existing development or when no development is proposed.

Any Binding Site Plan involving less than five acres is reviewed by the Development Review Committee. Land division of five acres or greater associated with a BSP is reviewed by the Planning Commission and forwarded to the City Council for preliminary binding site plan approval. If a site plan is part of an overall application subject to a higher approval authority, site plan approval is subject to that higher authority as well.

Please refer to the Woodland Municipal Code (WMC) Chapter 19.10.040(A)(3) for more information about Binding Site Plans.

NOTE: A Pre-Application conference is required before submitting an application for a Binding Site Plan

 

BOUNDARY LINE ADJUSTMENT (BLA)

 

A boundary line adjustment (BLA) allows for the adjustment of lot lines between existing and adjacent legal lots of record. A BLA cannot result in the creation of new lots. For details, please see Woodland Municipal Code (WMC) Title 16.34.

Duration

The Boundary Line Adjustment is permanent once recorded with Clark or Cowlitz County. It is important that the revised and recorded deed states that the property transaction is being done for boundary line adjustment purposes only.

Approval criteria

  • No new lots are created by the BLA proposal.
  • The adjusted lots meet current zoning requirements related to property size including but not limited to, minimum requirements for width, depth, and area. Whenever a lot involved in a proposed BLA does not meet minimum requirements for size prior to adjustment, the change may be approved so long as the change does not increase the existing nonconformity.
  • No lot shall be reconfigured or adjusted which would render access for vehicles, utilities, fire protection, or existing easements impractical to serve their purpose. Blanket utility easements existing along lot lines, that are specifically required as a condition of development approval, may be moved during a boundary line adjustment; provided, there is compliance with RCW 64.04.175 and the easement is not occupied by a utility. If the easement is occupied, this provision is inapplicable, and the provisions of RCW 64.04.175 shall apply.
  • A BLA proposal that is inconsistent with any restrictions or conditions of approval for a recorded plat or short plat shall not be approved.
  • A BLA proposal between lots with different zoning designations shall not be approved.
  • A BLA proposal that would reduce the overall area in a plat or short plat devoted to open space shall not be approved.
  • A BLA proposal that would adjust a boundary line across a public roadway shall not be approved.

Application process
The fee for a boundary line adjustment is $400 plus $75 per lot. Please see separate checklist for submission requirements.

Recording
If the proposed boundary line adjustment is approved, the applicant shall resubmit the map with the following information added:

  • Signature blocks for all property owners
  • Signature block for the public works director
  • Legal descriptions shall be prepared for each lot and placed on the face of the map
  • On the face of the map, the language of any and all covenants, deed restrictions, or other property use limitations on the property shall be set forth, together with the Auditor’s File Number, Volume and Page where such language is recorded

The BLA shall be recorded with the County Assessor’s office at the expense of the applicant.

 

CONDITIONAL USE

The intent of a conditional use permit is to provide flexibility within a zoning ordinance, allowing a jurisdiction to consider special uses which may be desirable or essential to a community that are not specifically allowed in a zoning district.

There are three basic types of conditional use permit: administrative, non-administrative, and minor modifications to approved conditional uses.

Administrative conditional use permit: Administrative uses for each of the commercial and industrial zones are listed in the zoning chapter of the Woodland Municipal Code for each district (WMC Title 17).

This type of permit is reviewed by city staff and approved or denied without requiring a public hearing. The criteria for requesting an administrative conditional use can be found in WMC 17.72.030. This information is also provided in the conditional use checklist. The base fee for this permit is $700.00.

Non-administrative conditional use permit: Each zoning district includes conditional uses that require a conditional permit issued by the Hearing Examiner after an open public hearing. To qualify for a conditional use, the criteria outlined in WMC 17.72.050 must be met. These criteria should be addressed in the required narrative. Please note there are additional criteria and standards for specific conditional uses that must also be met and addressed in the narrative. See WMC 17.72.100 for more information.

If a conditional use is part of a larger project requiring additional land use applications, all applications will be reviewed and decided upon by the Hearing Examiner with recommendations made by the Development Review Committee. The applicant or applicant’s representative should attend the hearing. In addition to the base application fee of $2,500.00 due at time of submittal, the applicant is responsible for all Hearing Examiner fees whether the conditional use permit is granted or denied.

A minor modification to an approved conditional use permit is defined in WMC 17-81-180 as “construction of an accessory building which will not alter or affect the permitted conditional use of the property.” All applications for minor modifications are reviewed by the Development Review Committee for approval or denial. Public notice of the application must be given in accordance with WMC 17.81.200 but no public hearing is required. The base fee for this permit is $700.00.

Conditional Use Permit Checklist


CRITICAL AREAS PERMIT

The Growth Management Act identifies the following types of critical areas:

  • Wetlands
  • Areas with a critical recharging effect on aquifers used for potable water
  • Frequently flooded areas
  • Geologically hazardous areas
  • Fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas

Each city in Washington is responsible for identifying, designating, and protecting critical areas within city limits. Woodland's critical areas ordinance strives to do just this. The City does not have all critical areas mapped; for this reason, the presence of critical areas is preliminarily determined for each development proposal through the use of a critical areas checklist and site visits.

When is a Critical Areas Permit required?

  • All development applications need to be accompanied by a Critical Areas Identification checklist.  City staff uses that checklist to do an initial review on the development site.
  • If critical areas are present on the property, applicants should seek advice from a technical expert or consultant regarding preparing a critical area report, or they may contact staff.

Is a SEPA checklist also required?

Probably yes.  Chances are good that a development proposal on a property with a critical area will trigger a SEPA checklist. Applicants seeking to develop properties that have critical areas should seek advice from a technical expert or consultant regarding preparing a SEPA checklist.

How much will this permit cost?

  • The fee for a critical areas permit is $600.  A SEPA checklist, if required, will cost an additional $650.

 

Critical Area Permit (CAP) Submittal Requirements

PLANNED UNIT RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT (PURD) INFORMATION

The City of Woodland welcomes innovative techniques for land development, including Planned Unit Residential Developments (PURDs). Such developments are intended to promote greater flexibility and more imaginative design than is generally possible under conventional zoning and subdivision regulations. PURDs also encourage increased density, more affordable housing, preservation of the natural environment, and opportunities to carry out architectural themes.

Point values are assigned for desirable site design and development features that reflect the policies and objectives of the comprehensive plan and other plans adopted by the city. The points used to determine whether a project qualifies as a PURD fall into these basic categories:

  • Affordable housing techniques – a variety of home types and styles allowing a range of prices
  • Open space and recreational features
  • Infrastructure and public improvements
  • Structure characteristics, including energy efficiency, garage width and orientation, front porches, and exterior materials used
  • Other design or development features proposed by the applicant not required by ordinance

Please see Woodland Municipal Code (WMC) Title 16.22 for more detailed information regarding PURD requirements and the submission process.

PURD Application Process

Applicants for a PURD are required to participate in a Pre-Application Conference. City staff will then provide written comments to the developer regarding the feasibility and appropriateness of the proposed project. Applicants are also required to hold a neighborhood meeting for property owners near the proposed development site to inform them about the project and solicit their comments.

After the Pre-Application Conference and the neighborhood meeting are held, separate applications and fees for both a PURD and a preliminary plat should be submitted to the Community Development Department. The PURD is the master plan for the development, but the PURD cannot create legal lots of record. Lots within the PURD must be created through the subdivision process, which requires a separate application. Please see the PURD checklist for a summary of items required for submission of this application. Refer to WMC Title 16.22 for further details.

Review Process

The Development Review Committee (DRC) will review the PURD and preliminary plat applications to ensure compliance with all applicable provisions of the Woodland Municipal Code and the comprehensive plan. The DRC may request additional information and documents from the applicant and/or may increase the number of copies of required plans and documents depending on the scope of the proposal.

The preliminary site plan, preliminary plat and all required supplementary application materials will be reviewed, along with the recommendations from the DRC, at an open public hearing before the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission will prepare separate recommendations for consideration by the city council based on the applicable criteria in the WMC for (1) the preliminary plat and (2) the preliminary site plan for the PURD along with any landscaping and floor plans for the proposed development.

Approval of the preliminary plat and the preliminary PURD plans will be granted if the applicant is able to demonstrate that the plat and plans are consistent with the purpose and requirements of WMC 16.22 and any other applicable zoning and subdivision regulations which align with this chapter of the code. The Planning Commission and city council have wide discretionary authority in considering PURD plans for approval or denial. The Planning Commission may recommend, and the city council may impose, conditions of approval to protect the best interests of the city.

Finalizing the Approved PURD and Plat

After city council has approved the PURD submittals and the Public Works Director has approved the detailed construction plans, the subdivider may install the agreed-upon public improvements, landscaping, and recreational facilities (excluding buildings) in accordance with the approved preliminary site plan and other approved documents.

Within three years, the applicant must submit the final plat application and fees to the Community Development Department. See Subdivision Final Plat information for a summary of the process. In accordance with WMC 16.22.290 the final plat and plans must conform to the approved preliminary plat and plans. Preliminary plat approval expires three years from the date of approval unless the applicant requests an extension no later than thirty (30) days before the approval period expires. Approval of the preliminary plat does not guarantee approval of the final plat.

No building permit may be issued until the final plat is recorded with the county auditor’s office and the final site plan has been approved by the city. The use of the land and the construction, modification or alteration of any building or structure within the PURD shall be governed by the approved final site plan. If the project is not completed, approval of the final site plan will expire (see WMC 16.22.380).

STATE ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT (SEPA)

 

Purpose of the Checklist
The State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), chapter 43.21C RCW, requires all governmental agencies to consider the environmental impacts of a proposal before making decisions. The purpose of this checklist is to provide information to help you and the City of Woodland identify impacts from your proposal, how to reduce or avoid impacts from the proposal, and to help the City of Woodland make a SEPA threshold determination. 

Exemptions
The City of Woodland has established the following exempt levels for minor new construction under WAC 197-11-800(1)(b) based on local conditions. Please note these exemptions do not apply to lands covered by water.

  • For single family residential units in WAC 197-11-800(1)(b)(i)  – up to five dwelling units.
  • For multi-family residential units in WAC 197-11-800(1)(b)(ii) - up to four dwelling units. 
  • For agricultural structures in WAC 197-11-800(1)(b)(iii) – up to ten thousand square feet. 
  • For office, school, commercial, recreational, service, or storage buildings in WAC 197-11-800(1)(b)(iv) – up to four thousand square feet and up to twenty parking spaces.
  • For parking lots in WAC 197-11-800(1)(b)(iv) – up to twenty parking spaces.
  • For landfills and excavations in WAC 197-11-800(1)(b)(v) – up to five hundred cubic yards.

Fees
Payment may be made online or by check payable to "City of Woodland."

  • SEPA Checklist Processing: $650
  • SEPA EIS Processing: $500

Making a SEPA threshold determination
The lead agency (the City of Woodland) makes a SEPA threshold determination based on information provided in this checklist, other information provided by the applicant, and applicable city codes. The City of Woodland must determine if there are possible significant adverse environmental impacts associated with the proposal. The threshold determination options include:

  • Determination of Non-Significance (DNS): The environmental impacts of the proposal can be addressed by applying the current Woodland Municipal Code.
  • Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance (MDNS): The impacts can be addressed through conditions of approval.
  • Determination of Significance (DS): The impacts cannot be mitigated through conditions of approval so an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is required.

The Process
For project actions, the City of Woodland utilizes the Optional DNS process in WAC
197-11-355, which allows for a single integrated comment period to obtain comments on the notice of application and the likely threshold determination for the proposal, provided it is determined that the project will have minimal environmental impacts. The City issues the threshold determination in conjunction with the notice of application for the base land use process. The Notice of Application, including the threshold determination and checklist, are sent to the Department of Ecology, affected tribes, and other local agencies potentially affected by the proposal for a 14 day comment period. Once the comment period closes, the City may reconsider the DNS or MDNS based upon comments received or may retain, modify or withdraw the DNS or MDNS. 

Appeals
Any person may appeal a threshold determination in accordance with WMC 19.06.050 and then by filing such appeal in writing with the Clerk-Treasurer for the City of Woodland, WA, for service to the SEPA responsible official within fourteen (14) calendar days of the SEPA determination being final. Per WMC 19.08.030, appeals of SEPA Threshold Determinations shall be reviewed by the Hearing Examiner at an open record pre-decision hearing.

Shorelines

 

What areas of Woodland are considered shoreline?

Shorelines of statewide significance in the City of Woodland include the Lewis River and Horseshoe Lake. The City of Woodland has adopted the Shorelines Management Master Program (SMMP) for Cowlitz County, Washington. The SMMP governs property which extends two hundred feet landward from the landward boundary of the floodway as determined by the most recent flood hazard map or the ordinary high water mark of Horseshoe Lake and the Lewis River (WMC 15.06.030).

 

Which agencies regulate shorelines in the State of Washington?

All shoreline permits go before the Hearing Examiner for a public hearing. The Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Ecology and the Army Corps of Engineers may be involved in decisions about shoreline matters. You are responsible for consulting with each of these agencies to determine what additional permitting you may need. The Department of Ecology makes the final decision on all Shoreline Conditional Use and Shoreline Variance Permits; they also review all City decisions on Shoreline Substantial Development Permits and Shoreline Exemption Letters.

 

What is a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit (SSDP)?

A Shoreline Substantial Development Permit is required for all projects within the City’s shoreline jurisdiction pursuant to the requirements and procedures contained in WAC 173-27 (Shoreline Management Permit and Enforcement Procedures). This requirement is in place in order to assure accurate engineering, appropriateness of the proposed development within shoreline jurisdiction, and compliance with local, federal and state code requirements for development in shoreline jurisdiction.

 

What is exempt from a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit?

Under the Shoreline Management Act, some developments are exempt from substantial development permit (SSDP) requirements. Exempt projects or activities are not required to have a substantial development permit, but property owners or developers must obtain a shoreline exemption letter from the City of Woodland. Other permits may also be required from the City, such as a SEPA checklist. Please see the Shoreline Exemption Letter guidelines for a detailed list of exemptions.

 

What is the purpose of a Shoreline Conditional Use Permit?

A Shoreline Conditional Use Permit is required for uses and developments that are not classified in the Shoreline Master Program. A Shoreline Conditional Use Permit may be granted for development that is usually considered unsuitable for siting within a particular shoreline environment, but only if the applicant can demonstrate all of the following:
1) The use will cause no unreasonable adverse effects on the environment or other uses within the area.
2) The use will not interfere with the public use of public shorelines.
3) The design of the proposed use will be compatible with the environment in which it will be located.
4) The proposed use will not be contrary to the Goals, Policy Statements or general intent of the shoreline environments of the Master Program.

 

What is a Shoreline Variance?

A Shoreline Variance deals with specific performance standards of the Shoreline Master Program; its objective is to grant relief when there are practical difficulties or unnecessary hardships in the strict implementation of the Master Program. A Shoreline Variance may be required for a use that does not require a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit. A Shoreline Variance may be granted only if the applicant can demonstrate the following:
1) The hardship which serves as basis for granting the variance is specifically related to the property of the applicant.
2) The hardship results from the application of the requirements of the Act and Master Program and not from, for example, deed restrictions or the applicant’s own actions.
3) The variance granted will be in harmony with the general purpose and intent of the Master Program.
4) Public welfare and interest will prevail; if more harm will be done to the area by granting the variance than would be done to the applicant by denying it, the variance will be denied

 

 

 

What is a Similar Use Determination?

A Similar Use Determination hearing before the Woodland Planning Commission establishes whether a proposed use should or should not be allowed in any given zoning district within Woodland City limits. The Planning Commission may rule that a use not specifically named in the allowed uses of a zoning district shall be included among the allowed uses if the proposed use is of the same general type and is similar to the allowed uses in that zone (see Woodland Municipal Code 17.76.040). Upon approval of a Similar Use Determination, the Planning Commission recommends to the City Council that the list of allowed uses for that zoning district be amended to include the new use.

When would a Similar Use Determination application be denied?

If the proposed use is deemed to be incompatible with the allowed uses in a given zoning district, it will be denied by the Planning Commission. In addition, when the proposed use is specifically listed in another zoning district, this section of the Woodland Municipal Code does not authorize the inclusion of that use in a district where it is not listed (WMC 17.76.040).

How do I apply for a Similar Use Determination?

Please see the Similar Use Determination checklist for a complete list of application requirements.

SITE PLAN REVIEW


The purpose of Site Plan Review is to ensure compatibility between new developments, existing uses, and future developments in a manner consistent with the goals and objectives of the Comprehensive Plan, the Woodland Municipal Code, and city development standards in order to create healthful and safe conditions. Site Plan Review is required according to the provisions of Chapter 19.10 in order to promote developments that are harmonious with their surroundings and maintain a high quality of life for area residents.

Type I Site Plan Review: Type I Site Plan Reviews are typically relatively minor in nature, consistent with the zoning of surrounding land uses, and do not have a substantial impact on the natural and built environment. Type I applications are approved by the Community Development Director or designee without public notice and without a public hearing (WMC 19.10.040(2)). The following are classified as Type I Site Plan Reviews:


a. Changes in use of an existing structure or site not exempt under WMC 19.10.030.

b. Any development or change of use that will result in thirty or fewer PM peak hour trips
and that requires payment of a traffic impact fee. Trips shall be based on the latest
edition of the International Transportation Engineer’s Trip General Manual or substantial
evidence by a professional engineer licensed in the State of Washington with expertise
in traffic engineering.

c. New construction or expansion of existing construction that does not exceed any of the
following:

a. Four thousand square feet of additional floor area;
b. Twenty new parking spaces; or
c. Four new multifamily residential units, except as provided for in WMC 19.10.030


Type II Site Plan Review: Type II Site Plan Reviews are typically more substantial in nature and may have potential incompatibility with surrounding zoning or land uses or may have a more substantial impact on the natural and built environment. Type II reviews are approved by the Development Review Committee and a pre-application conference is required. The following are classified as Type II Site Plan Reviews:


a. Any development which is not listed as a Type I site plan in WMC 19.10.040(A)(1) or as listed as exempt under WMC 19.10.030

b. Any development subject to SEPA pursuant to WMC 15.04

c. Any development or change of use that will result in thirty-one or more PM peak hour trips, based on the latest edition of the International Transportation Engineer’s Trip General Manual, or substantial evidence by a professional engineer licensed in the State of Washington with expertise in traffic engineering.

The following checklist identifies information to be included with the application for Site Plan Review. All of the following information must be submitted and application fees must be paid in order for the application to be considered complete. Please refer to the applicable provisions of the Woodland Municipal Code Chapter 17.

SUBDIVISION FINAL PLAT INFORMATION


A final plat completes the process of creating five or more new lots. A final plat application shall be submitted only after

  • meeting certain conditions of approval for the preliminary subdivision plat
  • approval of detailed construction plans

NOTE: Preliminary plat approval expires three years from the date of approval unless the applicant requests an extension no later than thirty (30) days before the approval period expires. Approval of the preliminary plat does not guarantee approval of the final plat.

Application Process

Submitting a complete application package along with the required fees starts the process. The fee for a preliminary plat is $1,200.00 plus $75.00 per lot. The fee for an extension is $300.00. Additional fees may be required, such as inspection fees and construction administration fees. Please see the Final Plat checklist for a summary of City of Woodland submission requirements.

Review by Clark County Fire & Rescue is also required; separate fees will be assessed and are payable directly to CCFR.

The Public Works Director starts the application review process. The application goes to the Planning Commission and then the Woodland City Council for review at their regular public meetings. Any reviewer who finds that the final plat application does not conform to the preliminary plat and any conditions will withhold approval until the applicant corrects or resolves all issues to the satisfaction of the reviewer.

Finalizing the Plat

No building permit may be issued until the final plat is recorded with the county auditor’s office and the final site plan is approved by the city. The applicant is responsible for filing the approved original final plat drawing for recording with the county auditor. Filing must be done within twenty-one (21) days after City Council approval or the final plat becomes null and void. To be reactivated, an expired plat must be resubmitted as a new preliminary plat along with all the applicable fees.

 

SUBDIVISION PRELIMINARY PLAT

 

A preliminary plat is a proposed subdivision of land into five or more lots. An approved preliminary plat authorizes the applicant to proceed with preparation of the final plat in accordance with the preliminary plat and any conditions of approval.

NOTE: approval of the preliminary plat does not guarantee approval of the final plat.

Once the preliminary plat is approved AND detailed construction plans are approved, the applicant may also proceed with construction and installation of any required improvements. For complete details about preliminary plats, see Woodland Municipal Code (WMC) Title 16.08.

Application process
Submitting a complete application package along with the required fees starts the process. The fee for a preliminary plat is $3,500.00 plus $75.00 per lot. Additional applications and fees may be required, such as a SEPA Checklist or Critical Area Permit. Please see the Preliminary Plat checklist for City of Woodland submission requirements.

Review by Clark County Fire & Rescue is also required; separate fees will be assessed and are payable directly to CCFR.

A public hearing before the Planning Commission is required for this type of application. The Planning Commission will forward their recommendation (for approval, approval with conditions, or denial) to the Woodland City Council for a final decision.

Review criteria

The Planning Commission and the City Council will require conformance with, including but not limited to, the following factors (please see WMC 16.08.150 for complete details):

• The land use map, policies and objectives of the Woodland Comprehensive Plan
• Woodland Municipal Code and all zoning ordinances
• Woodland flood damage ordinances and the Shoreline Master Program as adopted
• Capital improvements programs and any other plans and programs the city may adopt

ZONING VARIANCE

The Woodland Municipal Code (WMC) includes standards relating to development such as residential setbacks, lot dimension, building height, modification of a pre-existing non-conforming building, lot size, etc. A variance is a zoning adjustment which permits minor changes to district requirements where individual properties are both harshly and uniquely burdened by the strict application of the ordinance. A variance recognizes that the same district requirements do not affect all properties equally.

• The approval of a variance is limited to the minimum adjustment necessary to remedy the specific burdens of the site
• A variance may be granted with conditions of approval; any such conditions are binding and will be enforced as part of the variance.
• An approved variance will go with or be assigned to the subject property and shall not be transferable to another property
• If an application for a variance is denied, no reapplication shall be made within one year from the date of denial

Minor Variance

A minor variance is reviewed by the Development Review Committee (DRC) and the decision is made with no public hearing. Minor variances include:

  • A reduction in lot area, setbacks, lot dimensions; and, an increase in lot coverage and building height, all by not more than thirty percent of that required by the applicable standard of the zoning district in which the proposal is located

  • Any reduction in a side or rear yard setback below the minimum setback required by the applicable standard in the light industrial (I-1) or heavy industrial (I-2) zoning district

  • The modification of pre-existing nonconforming structures housing permitted uses, to the extent that the modification will not cause a greater infringement than exists of any standard of the zoning district in which the proposal is located

  • The enlargement, addition, or modification to any non-conforming single-family residence built prior to 1968
    NOTE: Variances to Chapter 14.40 are limited to elevation requirements for first floor construction, elevation requirements for flood-proofing, and the type and extent of required flood proofing. The issuance of a variance may result in increased premium rates for flood insurance.

Major Variance

A major variance is defined as a variance to a measurable zoning standard which does not fall under a category of minor variances as outlined in WMC 17.81.180.A (criteria listed above). Variances to properties subject to Critical Areas regulations are considered major variances.

A major variance is reviewed by the DRC and ruled on by the Hearing Examiner after a public hearing. If the major variance is part of a larger project requiring additional land use applications, all applications will be reviewed by the DRC and ruled on by the Hearing Examiner at a public hearing. Applicants should plan to attend this hearing with any information they wish to present in support of their case. The applicant is responsible for Hearing Examiner fees in addition to all land use application fees due at the time of submittal.

Application Process

An application for a variance from the requirements of WMC Title 17 includes the basic Land Use Application packet along with all the other documents listed in the Variance Submittal Requirements. In the case of a request for an alternative from the Public Works Standards, please use forms provided by the Public Works Department.

Criteria

The following criteria should be met, as outlined in WMC 17.81.180.B and 17.81.020B. These items should be addressed in the narrative required as part of the application package:

  • That such variance is necessary, because of special circumstances or conditions relating to the size, shape, topography, location, or surroundings of the subject property, to provide it with use, rights, and privileges permitted to other properties in the vicinity and in the zone in which the subject property is located

  • That the granting of such variance will not be materially detrimental to the public welfare or injurious to the property or improvements in the vicinity and zone in which the subject property is situated

Applications regarding minimum lot sizes which increase density beyond that permitted by the comprehensive plan are discouraged. Since zoning regulates land and not people, the following conditions cannot be considered pertinent to the application:

  • Proof that a variation would increase the financial return from the land
  • Personal hardship
  • Self-imposed hardship. Recognition of conditions created by the applicant (or predecessor in title) would encourage and condone violation of the zoning ordinance.

Expiration

Any variance is void after three (3) years unless a building permit has been issued and substantial construction has taken place. City staff may, for good cause, extend approval for no more than one (1) year. If a variance is specifically related to an approved phasing program, the validity of the variance shall be limited only by the phasing plan.

 

Choose the tab above for information about the

Land Use type that you are requesting.

The various requirements will be outlined

for each application type.

A complete application includes these requirements

in addition to the four required forms above.