Chapter 2.14
LAND USE APPROVAL BODIES

Sections:

2.14.010    City council.

2.14.020    Planning commission.

2.14.030    Hearing examiner.

2.14.040    Design review board.

2.14.060    Historic preservation commission.

2.14.070    Fort Ward historic review committee.

2.14.010 City council.

A. The city council of Bainbridge Island serves as the legislative body for the municipality and the decision-maker on some types of quasi-judicial land use decisions. More specifically, city council makes final decisions on:

1. Final long subdivisions; and

2. Site-specific rezones; and

3. Consolidated project reviews where any element requires city council approval.

B. In addition, city council exercises its legislative authority regarding land use by making final decisions on:

1. Adoption or amendment of development regulations in this BIMC; and

2. Adoption of comprehensive plan amendments; and

3. Adoption of special area plans; and

4. Area-wide rezones; and

5. Adoption of, amendments to, or revisions of the shoreline master program. To become effective, any amendments to the shoreline master program must be reviewed and approved by the Department of Ecology, pursuant to RCW 90.58.190 or its successor, and Chapter 173-26 WAC or its successor. (Ord. 2014-04 § 5 (Exh. 3 § 1), 2014: Ord. 2011-21 § 1, 2011: Ord. 2011-02 § 2 (Exh. A), 2011)

2.14.020 Planning commission.

A. Purpose and Role of the Planning Commission. The Bainbridge Island planning commission serves as an advisory body to the city council, and provides recommendations to the director of planning, the hearing examiner and/or the city council. The commission’s role is to consider legislative, as well as quasi-judicial matters, depending upon the action before it. Pursuant to Chapter 35A.63 RCW, the commission has primary responsibility for preparing, reviewing and updating the comprehensive plan.

B. Duties and Responsibilities. Pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 35A.63 RCW, there is established within the city a planning commission that shall have the following duties and responsibilities:

1. Participate in the preparation and review of the comprehensive plan for the city; and

2. Review and make recommendations on all applications for amendments to the comprehensive plan, official zoning map and official zoning ordinance of the city pursuant to Table 2.16.010-1; and

3. Review and make recommendations on all housing design demonstration project applications pursuant to BIMC 2.16.020.Q, including those housing design demonstration project applications involving land subdivision, based on a comprehensive review of the project at a public meeting; and

4. Such other advisory duties as may be assigned to it by the city council, or as specified in the BIMC; and

5. The title “planning commission” is substituted for the title “planning agency” in all city ordinances and other documents approved prior to the effective date of the ordinance codified in this chapter; and

6. Create the planning commission agenda per the director’s recommendation; and

7. Report annually to the city council prior to the start of the budget process.

C. Composition – Appointments – Terms – Residency – Chairpersons.

1. The commission shall consist of seven members appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the city council. All seven members of the commission shall be residents of the city. The members shall not be employees or officers of the city or appointed to another city committee, board or commission, except for specialized committees or task forces of limited duration. The commission shall reflect the diverse perspectives, work experiences and backgrounds represented in the community. Each commissioner shall endeavor to understand and agree to uphold the city’s adopted comprehensive plan.

2. All members shall serve without compensation for three-year terms, which begin on July 1st and end on June 30th three years later. Members shall be appointed to a position number, and the terms are to be staggered, with no more than three positions expiring in any given year. Members may be reappointed to additional terms. No member shall serve more than three consecutive terms on the commission unless the city council determines that special expertise is required or there are no other qualified applicants.

3. The officers of the commission shall consist of a chairperson and a vice chairperson elected by the members of the commission for a one-year term. The election of officers shall take place at the first meeting of the year. In the event of the vacancy of the chair, the chairperson would be replaced by the vice chairperson, and the vice chairperson would be replaced by a vote of the members of the commission.

4. The chairperson shall preside over meetings of the commission and may exercise all the powers usually incident to the office. Duties of the chairperson shall include, but not be limited to, committees of the whole, handling meeting items and discussion, conflict of interest, suspension of meetings, timing or discussion of issues, and clarification of issues and questions. The chairperson shall sign all approved commission minutes, reports or other official documents.

5. In the absence of the chairperson, the vice chairperson shall perform all the duties incumbent upon the chairperson. The chairperson and the vice chairperson both being absent, the members present may elect for the meeting a temporary chairperson who shall have the full powers of the chairperson during the absence of the chairperson and the vice chairperson.

6. The chair shall have full power to create subcommittees that would include up to three commissioners. Standing or temporary committees may be charged with such duties, examinations, investigations and inquiries relative to one or more subjects of interest to the commission. No committee shall have the power to commit the commission to the endorsement of any plan or program without the approval of a quorum of the commission.

D. Forfeiture of Office.

1. A member appointed to the commission shall forfeit his or her office, creating a vacancy, if he or she ceases to have the qualifications prescribed for such office by law or ordinance, or if he or she is convicted of a gross misdemeanor or felony or a violation of the oath of office.

2. In the event of a commission member being absent from three consecutive regular meetings, or being absent from 50 percent of all meetings (including committee) in any six-month period, the office shall become vacant and forfeited; provided, that the mayor, with city council approval, may grant an exception when warranted by individual circumstances.

3. For an extended absence, a commissioner may request a leave of absence, to be approved by the mayor, with city council approval.

4. Any unexpired term of a vacant or forfeited office shall be filled by a qualified person appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the city council in accordance with the city’s appointment cycle.

E. Meetings.

1. The planning commission shall meet on the second and fourth Thursday of each month and may hold such special meetings as the planning commission may determine necessary. All regularly scheduled meetings shall begin at 7:00 p.m. and shall endeavor to adjourn by 9:00 p.m.; provided, that the hours of a regular meeting may be modified for exceptional purposes, as determined by the chairperson.

2. Planning commission meetings shall be held at the city of Bainbridge Island City Hall. Under special circumstances, regular and special meetings and retreats may be held in other locations as publicly noticed.

3. The planning commission shall give public notice of its meetings as provided by law. Notice for a public hearing shall be provided at least 10 days in advance of said hearing.

4. All meetings of the planning commission shall be open to the public and held in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act (Chapter 42.30 RCW). In the event a regular meeting falls upon a legal holiday, the meeting shall be held on the following business day.

5. All meetings shall be conducted according to Robert’s Rules of Order.

6. The planning commission shall review and approve rules of procedure and code of conduct annually.

F. Quorum and Voting.

1. A simple majority of the appointed members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.

2. The chairperson shall be entitled to vote on a matter when it is necessary to break a tie or to make a quorum.

3. When a commissioner has stepped down because of a potential conflict of interest, he or she shall not be counted for purposes of establishing a quorum during considerations undertaken while he or she is not sitting with the commission.

G. Public Meetings and Hearings. The planning commission will consider the land use applications at a public meeting and shall recommend approval, approval with conditions, or denial of an application. For legislative decisions, the planning commission will hold a public hearing and shall recommend approval, approval with conditions, or denial of an application. In making a recommendation, the planning commission shall consider the applicable decision criteria of this code, the comprehensive plan, all other applicable law, any necessary documents and approvals, and any testimony presented verbally or in writing at the public meeting. If the applicable criteria are not met, the planning commission shall recommend the proposal be subject to conditions or denied. A planning commission recommendation is not a final decision and is not subject to appeal. The planning commission’s written recommendation and other documents upon which its decision is based shall be immediately transmitted to the director and/or the hearing examiner, as applicable.

H. Public Records. Minutes of each meeting, including a record of attendance, shall be prepared by the secretary and approved and signed at a subsequent meeting. The minutes do not need to reflect the actual discussion, but only the formal actions taken by the planning commission. The meeting minutes shall be posted on the city’s web site.

I. Consultants. Upon approval of the city council, the planning commission may recommend the retention of a planning consultant who assists the planning commission in its deliberations. The consultant shall be hired by the city.

J. Conflict of Interest. Planning commission members shall sign a conflict of interest statement in accordance with the city’s ethics program upon appointment and any reappointment. If a planning commission member has a financial interest in or is an applicant, or if a planning commission member is a paid or unpaid advocate, agent or representative for an applicant on a comprehensive plan amendment or land use application that will be reviewed or considered by the planning commission, the planning commission member shall not participate in a decision or recommendation on the application, and he or she will be asked to leave the meeting facility prior to commencement of discussion of that agenda item.

K. Support Staff. The planning staff shall perform the following roles in its work with the planning commission:

1. Provide the initial record that includes the standards of review, relevant municipal code and comprehensive plan provisions and provisions of other permitting agencies. The staff report shall include findings of fact and conclusions of law based on evidence in the record; and

2. Provide technical information and research, prepare documents and maintain records. This includes drafting transmittal memos, preparing alternative findings and conclusions when appropriate, and obtaining legal opinions from the city attorney; and

3. Respond to questions and discussion of procedures; and

4. Assist the commission in articulating their collective will; and

5. Provide upon request formal opinions or recommendations from the city attorney, city engineer, public works director or the director of planning and community development on any matter that is pending before the planning commission; and

6. Arrange for the provision of city email accounts to commission members and related training on the use of email accounts, including personal computer privacy expectations while serving on the commission. (Ord. 2014-18 § 1, 2014: Ord. 2013-25 § 1, 2013; Ord. 2011-02 § 2 (Exh. A), 2011)

2.14.030 Hearing examiner.

A. Policy. The conduct of public hearings in quasi-judicial matters generally involves disputed issues. It is in the best interest of the residents of the city to create officers designated in this chapter as “hearing examiners,” whose duties shall be judicial in nature. Whenever any ordinance of the city requires a public hearing to be conducted by the hearing examiner, the hearing shall be conducted in accordance with the procedures established in Chapter 2.16 BIMC.

B. Qualifications – Appointment – Term – Removal. Each hearing examiner shall be appointed by the city manager, confirmed by the city council, and shall serve for a term of two years. As required by WAC 242-02-040, each appointed hearing examiner shall be someone who has a demonstrated knowledge of land use planning and law and shall meet any additional qualifications specified by city council resolution. The appointed hearing examiner shall be removed only (1) upon conviction of a gross misdemeanor or felony, (2) because of physical or mental disability rendering the hearing examiner incapable of performing the duties of the office, (3) upon conviction of a violation of subsection D of this section, or (4) upon conviction of a violation of Chapter 42.23 RCW, the violation of which shall constitute a misdemeanor under this code.

C. Hearing Examiner Responsibilities and Duties.1

1. The hearing examiner is responsible for conducting hearings on and adjudicating quasi-judicial cases involving a variety of complex land use and regulatory compliance issues, and other issues which the city council may designate to the hearing examiner by ordinance or resolution. The hearing examiner shall issue decisions or recommendations based on relevant ordinances, regulations, policies, statutes, and other authorities.

2. Duties. In addition to any other duty established by ordinance or resolution, the hearing examiner:

a. Supervises and evaluates the work of employees as required;

b. Develops procedural rules for the scheduling and conduct of hearings and related matters. Such rules shall be available from the office of the city clerk upon request;

c. Reviews properties that are the subject of hearings to become familiar with the terrain and relationships to other properties;

d. Receives and examines hearing related documents, and reviews case files, city codes and policies, environmental impact statements, plot plans and topographical maps;

e. Evaluates testimony and evidence, prepares records, enters final written findings, and imposes conditions to conform projects to city ordinances and land use policies;

f. Maintains knowledge of current relevant state and city land use laws, policies and related state and federal court decisions;

g. Prepares reports and correspondence to the city manager, city council, and planning commission as requested;

h. Prepares and submits annual written reports to the city manager and city council, including how many hearings have been conducted, the final outcome of hearings, the time required to issue decisions and the cost of hearings;

i. Meets with the city manager, city council, planning commission and staff as requested, to identify conflicts in the code; and

j. When necessary, recommends candidates for pro tem hearing examiner, for approval by the city manager.

D. Noninterference in Performance of Duties. No person shall attempt to influence the hearing examiner in the performance of duties. The hearing examiner shall not discuss the merits of any case considered by the hearing examiner until all city review and court appeals have been concluded and a final decision has been rendered. Any violation of this provision shall be deemed a misdemeanor and may be punished pursuant to Chapter 1.24 BIMC.

E. Legal Counsel for Hearing Examiner. General legal advice to the hearing examiner will be provided by the city attorney, except that in a contested case where the city will be represented by the city attorney, the mayor may appoint independent counsel to render legal advice to the hearing examiner, the cost of which shall be borne by the city.

F. Disqualification of Hearing Examiner.

1. The hearing examiner on his or her own initiative may enter an order of disqualification in the event of personal bias or prejudice or to preserve the appearance of fairness.

2. Prior to any hearing on a matter, a party may file an affidavit, which is a sworn statement in writing and under oath, stating that such party cannot have a fair and impartial hearing by reason of the hearing examiner’s personal bias or prejudice. The hearing examiner shall rule on the affidavit prior to making other ruling and prior to the hearing. No party shall be permitted to file more than one such affidavit under this section in regard to any one proceeding. (Ord. 2011-23 § 1, 2011; Ord. 2011-02 § 2 (Exh. A), 2011)

2.14.040 Design review board.

A. Membership – Appointment – Term.

1. There is created a design review board (board) for the city. The design review board shall consist of seven members who shall be appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the city council. Board membership shall include at least one representative with expertise in the following disciplines and/or groups: landscape architecture; urban design; public art committee or local artist; developers; at-large community member; and at least two architects. The members of the design review board shall not be officers or employees of the city or appointed to another city committee, board or commission, except for specialized committees or task forces of limited duration.

2. The members of the board shall serve without compensation. The terms for appointed members shall be three years, commencing on July 1st and ending on June 30th three years later. Members shall be appointed to a position number, and the terms are to be staggered, with no more than three positions expiring in any given year. A member may be reappointed, and shall hold office until his or her successor has been appointed and has qualified. No member shall serve more than three consecutive terms unless the city council determines that special expertise is required, or there are no other qualified applicants.

B. Vacancies – Removal. In the event of a vacancy, the mayor, subject to the confirmation of the city council, shall make an appointment to fill the unexpired portion of the term of the vacated position in accordance with the city’s appointment cycle. Unexcused absence by any member from three consecutive meetings shall constitute grounds for removal. Members may be removed upon a majority vote of the city council.

C. Organization.

1. The board shall select one member to serve as chair for a one-year term at the first regular meeting of each year.

2. The board shall adopt such rules and regulations as are necessary to accomplish its duties and responsibilities. These rules and regulations shall be published on the city’s web site.

3. The city shall provide necessary supplies and support staff to the board, consistent with available resources.

4. The city shall provide city email accounts to board members and related training on the use of email accounts, including personal computer privacy expectations while serving on the board.

D. Duties and Responsibilities. The board shall have the following duties and responsibilities:

1. Serve in an advisory capacity to the director, hearing examiner, and planning commission, as applicable, regarding site plan and design reviews and conditional use permits pursuant to BIMC 2.16.040, 2.16.050, and 2.16.110 that are subject to city-adopted design guidelines. Applications related to single-family residences such as family day care homes, minor/major home occupations, and single-family residential height variations are exempt from design review board consideration. In addition, applications related to utility facilities and to outdoor recreation facilities are exempt from design review board consideration.

2. Review and make recommendations to the planning commission and the city council on changes, amendments and/or additions to the design guidelines.

3. Serve in an advisory and review capacity to housing design demonstration project applications pursuant to BIMC 2.16.020.Q, including those design demonstration project applications involving land subdivision.

4. Such other duties and responsibilities as may be provided by resolution or ordinance of the city council.

5. Report annually to the city council prior to the start of the budget process.

E. Open Meetings. All board meetings shall be open to the public and held in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act (Chapter 42.30 RCW). The board, in its discretion, may allow interested citizens to speak and submit documents.

F. Public Records. For meetings consisting of a majority of the then serving members, the board shall provide public notice of the meeting and shall keep a record of its meeting minutes. Minutes of each meeting, including a record of attendance, shall be prepared by the secretary and approved and signed at a subsequent meeting. The minutes do not need to reflect the actual discussion, but only the formal actions taken by the design review board. The approved meeting minutes shall be posted on the city’s web site.

G. Quorum. A majority of the appointed members then serving on the board shall constitute a quorum.

H. Conflict of Interest. Design review board members shall sign a conflict of interest statement in accordance with the city’s ethics program upon appointment and any reappointment. If a design review board member is an applicant for an application under review by the board, has a financial interest in a project, or is a paid or unpaid advocate, agent or representative for such applicant, the board member shall not participate in review of and recommendation on the application, and he or she will be asked to leave the meeting facility prior to commencement of discussion of that agenda item. (Ord. 2014-19 § 1, 2014: Ord. 2011-02 § 2 (Exh. A), 2011)

2.14.060 Historic preservation commission.

The creation, composition, terms, powers and duties, rules and standards of the historic preservation commission are described in BIMC 18.24.020. (Ord. 2011-02 § 2 (Exh. A), 2011)

2.14.070 Fort Ward historic review committee.

The creation, size, intent, composition, terms, powers and duties, and rules and procedures of the Fort Ward historic review committee are described in BIMC 18.24.110.E. (Ord. 2011-02 § 2 (Exh. A), 2011)


1

Code reviser’s note: Ord. 2011-23 amends Section 2.38.025. Since that section was repealed and replaced by Ord. 2011-02, the provisions of Ord. 2011-23 have been codified at Section 2.14.030(C).