Chapter 20.42
PUBLIC DEVELOPMENT

Sections:

20.42.010    Introduction.

20.42.020    Purpose and intent.

20.42.030    Scope – Applicability – Reversion.

20.42.040    Land owned by the federal government.

20.42.050    Land owned by the city of Bellingham, Whatcom County, the port of Bellingham, the Bellingham housing authority or the Bellingham school district and designated public.

20.42.010 Introduction.

A. This chapter specifies applicable procedures and regulations that apply to usage of land within the public (P) general use type.

B. This chapter is designed to be used in conjunction with the land use classification system found within the applicable neighborhood plan. [Ord. 9024, 1982].

20.42.020 Purpose and intent.

A. Intent. The public (P) general use type is intended to apply to major parcels of land within the city limits which are owned by public agencies and used for public purposes. The public general use type recognizes the fact that public agencies, in attempting to serve the general public, have unique needs which cannot be adequately addressed through standard zoning legislation. The public general use type also recognizes that adjacent property owners should be aware of potential use of neighboring public land and have assurance of minimum performance standards.

B. Purpose. The public general use type is intended to:

1. Provide for a public awareness of the possible uses of neighboring public land.

2. Accommodate a potential myriad of government related uses, while providing minimum performance standards for new developments and mitigating the potential for adverse impacts occurring off site.

3. Coordinate plans of various public agencies with the city of Bellingham and its comprehensive plan.

4. Provide a graphic record of major publicly owned parcels.

5. Help allow for a better assessment of the other land use designations, since major public lands will not weight those designations disproportionately. [Ord. 9024, 1982].

20.42.030 Scope – Applicability – Reversion.

A. Scope. The following public agencies have lands currently designated public within the comprehensive neighborhood plan land use classification system:

1. The United States of America.

2. The state of Washington.

3. Whatcom County.

4. The city of Bellingham.

5. The port of Bellingham.

6. Bellingham School District No. 501.

7. The Bellingham Housing Authority.

B. Applicability.

1. All property designated public (within the comprehensive neighborhood plan land use classification system) shall follow procedures herein specified corresponding with the (appropriate) ownership of the subject property.

2. Land not designated public, although owned by an agency listed within subsection (A) of this section or owned by other public or quasi-public agencies, shall follow the regulations of the general use type which the property is designated.

C. Removal from Public Ownership. Should property presently designated public cease to be owned by the public agency, then said property shall be regulated under the same zoning provisions of this title as property zoned:

General Use Type

Residential Single

Use Qualifier

Detached

Density

20,000 square foot minimum detached lot size

Until and unless the city council, after recommendation by the planning and development commission, changes the classification system following standard change of classification procedures. [Ord. 2004-12-088; Ord. 9024, 1982].

20.42.040 Land owned by the federal government.

A. Development upon land owned by the United States of America shall be exempt from the requirements of this chapter.

B. The mayor of the city of Bellingham is authorized to communicate the proposal’s relationship to the city’s comprehensive plan, to applicable local regulations, and may recommend mitigating actions which should be undertaken by the respective federal or state agency to minimize potential or actual adverse impact caused by the proposal. [Ord. 1998-08-066; Ord. 9024, 1982].

20.42.050 Land owned by the city of Bellingham, Whatcom County, the port of Bellingham, the Bellingham housing authority or the Bellingham school district and designated public.

A. Permitted Uses. Use of public land must be within the range of the use qualifiers as defined herein.

1. Use Qualifier – Range of Use.

a. Agricultural (or Arboretum). To provide adequate facilities related to the cultivation of plants, usually for scientific or educational purposes. The term includes associated accessory buildings and uses such as greenhouses, equipment storage buildings, living quarters for employees, and limited facilities (trails, benches, etc.) to view and enjoy the plants and environment.

b. Cemetery. To provide an area used for the burial of the dead, including related accessory buildings and uses.

c. Governmental Services. To provide any of a diversified range of governmental services such as offices, fire and police stations, libraries, museums, senior activity centers, arts and crafts facilities and similarly related uses.

d. Housing, Public. To provide living units for use by low income families. The term shall include related accessory buildings and uses.

e. Housing, Student. To provide living units for use by students of Western Washington University including related accessory buildings and uses.

f. Open Space. To preserve land in its “natural state” with limited recreational activities such as trails and benches.

g. Parks. To provide for a diverse range of leisure and/or recreational activities. The term shall include accessory buildings and uses but is not intended for activities which normally attract large numbers of spectators.

h. Recreation. To provide for active recreational facilities including accessory buildings and uses where a large number of spectators may be anticipated. The term may include uses which cater to the public such as eating places.

i. School. To provide a diverse range of educational opportunities. Accessory buildings and uses including recreational activities are included in the term.

j. Utilities. To provide for a diverse range of basic governmental facilities including equipment storage and repair facilities (central shops), transit garages and terminals, sewage and water treatment centers, water reservoir, stormwater retention areas, parking garages, gravel pits and similar uses.

B. Accessory Uses.

1. Accessory uses are permitted if it is determined by the director of planning and economic development that the use is clearly a use which is customarily incidental and subordinate to the main use and if the following criteria are met:

a. The use is intended to service employees or patrons of the primary public service.

b. There is no sign or outside advertising of the use.

c. The use is located within the confines of the building which houses the primary service or is located to the interior of the site so that it is not situated to attract persons from off site.

2. Wireless communication facilities may only be allowed under the provisions of Chapter 20.13 BMC pertaining to the location of these facilities in public zones.

C. Conditional Uses.

1. Conditional uses are allowed and are not specifically limited except by criteria in BMC 20.16.020(J)(2); however, the burden of proof to meet the criteria shall be upon the applicant.

2. Wireless communication facilities may only be allowed under the provisions of Chapter 20.13 BMC pertaining to the location of these facilities in public zones.

D. Performance Standards. With any new development, the public agency must satisfy the following minimum performance standards.

1. Minimum Yards.

a. All buildings or structures shall be located no closer than 20 feet from any property line abutting or across the street from land designated residential single, residential multi, or planned residential.

b. Parking facilities shall be located no closer than 10 feet from any property line abutting or across the street from any residential designation; provided, however, that a driveway may be permitted within this required yard.

2. Parking. Design and construction of parking facilities containing no less than the number of spaces required for similar privately owned uses shall be provided pursuant to standards set forth in BMC 20.12.010.

3. Signs. Signage shall be unlighted or indirectly lighted and limited to a size and message to adequately identify the use. If city owned, the sign shall be subject to review by the Bellingham arts commission. If not owned by the city, signage visible from beyond the property line shall be subject to the same limitations as those uses permitted outright in uses of the adjacent general use type having the most stringent regulations.

4. Landscaping. All yards required in subsection (D)(1) of this section, and storage areas visible from beyond the property line shall be screened as defined within BMC 20.12.030.

E. Procedure.

1. While use of land shall be limited to that range described in subsection (A) of this section, each agency shall conduct its activities pursuant to its normal guidelines and procedures.

2. If the proposal will consist of an improvement which requires the issuance of a building permit, then the planning director shall certify that the proposal as planned will satisfy the intent and requirements herein contained, as well as any applicable special condition or prerequisite considerations.

3. If the planning director finds that a proposed use is not within the scope of uses as defined within subsection (A) of this section, then no such use shall be allowed unless and until the use qualifier for the subject property is changed to one which permits the activity. This change in use qualifier must follow standard procedures for change of land use classification.

4. User Information. Ordinance 8042 requires that any work of art, design of buildings, bridges, viaducts, elevated ways, gates, fences, lamp standards, signs or other structures erected on or to be erected upon land belonging to the city of Bellingham shall be presented to the Bellingham municipal arts commission for their review and recommendations. [Ord. 2013-12-090 § 11; Ord. 2005-12-106; Ord. 1998-07-057; Ord. 10038 § 1, 1990; Ord. 9352 § 5, 1984; Ord. 9024, 1982].