Chapter 20.20


20.20.010    Introduction.

20.20.020    Process.

20.20.030    Annual docketing criteria.

20.20.040    Decision criteria.

20.20.080    Annexed property.

20.20.010 Introduction.

The comprehensive plan document guides the nature and intensity of development in the city. The city of Bellingham’s adopted comprehensive plan contains several components or elements, including the neighborhood plans. The Growth Management Act and subsequent amendments limit changes to comprehensive plans to once a year. As an element of the comprehensive plan, the neighborhood plans are also subject to this limitation. This section explains the processes for amending Bellingham’s comprehensive plan, including the neighborhood plans. [2011-08-048; 2009-08-051; Ord. 2004-12-088; Ord. 2004-09-065; Ord. 1998-02-002 § 1].

20.20.020 Process.

The annual process to amend the comprehensive plan and/or a neighborhood plan includes two major steps:

A. Placing a proposed amendment on the annual review docket. Only the city council can place a proposed amendment on the review docket. Establishing the docket is a Type VI process (see BMC 21.10.150(B) for application and procedural requirements). The planning commission will use the docketing criteria in BMC 20.20.030 to evaluate the proposal and make a recommendation to the city council. The city council will also use the docketing criteria and the recommendations of the planning commission to determine which requests are placed on the docket for review in the subsequent year.

B. Once on the annual review docket, a proposed amendment is reviewed using a second Type VI process, including public hearings on the merits before the planning commission and the city council. The process concludes with a decision to approve, modify or deny the request by the city council, using the criteria in BMC 20.20.040. [Ord. 2011-08-048].

20.20.030 Annual docketing criteria.

The city shall use the following criteria in selecting proposals for inclusion in the annual docket of comprehensive plan/neighborhood plan amendments. In order to be included on the annual docket, a proposal must meet the following criteria:

A. The city has the resources, including staff and budget, necessary to adequately and comprehensively review the proposal within the time frame of the annual review process; and

B. The proposal meets one or more of the following criteria:

1. The proposed amendment represents an issue appropriately addressed in the comprehensive plan or in a neighborhood plan;

2. The proposal demonstrates strong potential to serve the public interest by implementing specifically identified goals and policies of the comprehensive plan;

3. The public interest would be best served by considering the proposal in the next amendment cycle, rather than delaying consideration to a future plan update process;

4. The amendment addresses changing circumstances, changing community values, or corrects or updates information in the comprehensive plan or a neighborhood plan; or

5. State law requires, or a decision of a court or administrative agency has directed a change to the comprehensive plan or a neighborhood plan. [Ord. 2011-08-048].

20.20.040 Decision criteria.

Petitioners requesting amendments to the comprehensive plan and/or a neighborhood plan shall be prepared to offer justification for the request using the following criteria. These criteria will be used by the planning commission and city council to evaluate amendment requests:

A. There exists an error, omission or inconsistency in the pertinent comprehensive plan or neighborhood plan provision; or

B. All of the following criteria have been met:

1. The proposed amendment is consistent with the Growth Management Act and other applicable laws;

2. The proposed amendment addresses changing circumstances, changing community values, and is consistent with and will help achieve the comprehensive plan goals and policies;

3. The proposed amendment will result in long-term benefit to the community and is in the community’s overall best interests;

4. The amendment will not adversely affect the public health, safety or general welfare; and

5. If a concurrent rezone is requested, the proposal must also meet the criteria for rezones in BMC 20.19.030. [Ord. 2011-08-048].

20.20.080 Annexed property.

Unless changed by the city council, land annexed to the city shall be given a comprehensive plan/neighborhood plan land use designation that most closely matches the comprehensive plan designation in Whatcom County’s subarea plan for the annexed property. [Ord. 2004-12-088; Ord. 2004-09-065].