Chapter 18.08
VARIANCE PROCESS

Sections:

18.08.010    Purpose.

18.08.020    Type of action.

18.08.030    Contents of complete application.

18.08.040    Criteria for approval.

18.08.050    Decision process.

18.08.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to establish the type of action, contents of a complete application and criteria for approval for variances from this title or the Bothell Standards.

The public works director shall have authority to determine whether a request for deviation from the Bothell Standards or public works development regulations is a permissive alternative or not. Permissible alternatives generally involve decisions of technical analysis, criteria and engineering judgement for design purposes and are not subject to this chapter. Nonpermissible alternatives shall be subject to this title and variance process. (Ord. 2023 § 1 (Exh. A), 2009; Ord. 1634 § 1, 1996).

18.08.020 Type of action.

A variance is a Type III action and shall be considered in accordance with the procedures for such actions as set forth in BMC Title 11, Administration of Development Regulations. (Ord. 2023 § 1 (Exh. A), 2009; Ord. 1634 § 1, 1996).

18.08.030 Contents of complete application.

An application for a variance is complete for the purposes of this section when it has been determined by the city to contain the information described below in addition to the standard application information required under BMC Title 11, Administration of Development Regulations. An application shall be deemed complete if it is sufficient for continued processing even though additional information may be required or modifications may subsequently be made. The city’s determination of completeness shall not preclude the city from requesting additional information or studies, either at the time of the notice of completeness or subsequently if new information is required or substantial changes in the application occur. A complete application shall contain:

A.    Completed application form and attachments signed and dated by owner/agent.

B.    Complete legal description of the subject property.

C.    Site plan depicting existing and proposed improvements on the property. The site plan shall contain the following information in addition to the standard information required by BMC Title 11, Administration of Development Regulations:

1.    Dimensions and shape of the lot and adjacent street names;

2.    Location and dimensions of existing and proposed buildings including setbacks and requested variance(s);

3.    Circulation. Adjacent street improvements, curb cut locations for ingress and egress; parking layout in accordance with Chapter 12.16 BMC;

4.    Existing and proposed landscaping in accordance with Chapter 12.18 BMC;

5.    Existing watercourses, sensitive areas (such as wetlands, geologically hazardous areas, etc.), utility lines, easements, deed restrictions, structures, rockeries, and other manmade or natural features restricting use of the subject property;

6.    Preliminary grading plan depicting proposed and existing grades at five-foot contours, if grading is proposed in conjunction with proposed use; and

7.    Preliminary street, storm drainage, water distribution, sanitary sewer, gas, power, sidewalks, and exterior lighting layout including sizes and including applicable preliminary calculations.

D.    Narrative explanation of variance being requested.

E.    Ten copies of all plans and two copies of applicable calculations and reports. All oversized plans shall be folded to eight and one-half inches by 14 inches.

F.    One paper reduction of each oversized plan to eight and one-half inches by 14 inches or eight and one-half inches by 11 inches.

G.    The following information for those projects subject to compliance with the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA):

1.    Complete description of the proposed action;

2.    Completed environmental checklist;

3.    Additional Information/SEPA Checklist (WAC 197-11-335). The SEPA checklist covers 16 subjects. If after review of the SEPA checklist it is determined that there is insufficient information to make a threshold determination, additional information shall be required using any one of the following actions:

a.    The applicant shall provide more information on the subjects in the checklist;

b.    The city makes its own further study;

c.    The city shall consult with other agencies, requesting information on the proposal’s potential impacts which lie within other agencies’ jurisdiction or expertise;

4.    Supplemental reports including but not limited to traffic, geotechnical, and wetlands;

5.    Any proposed mitigation plans. All site mitigation plans shall comply with the criteria for site plans listed above.

H.    Application fee and engineering trust deposit.

I.    The applicant shall sign an agreement which extends the review and decision time frames established by the Growth Management Act in order to consider the variance request.

J.    A photocopy of the list of names and addresses (labels) for all property owners whose property is within 300 feet of the subject property.

K.    Three stamped (no metered mail) and labeled, legal-sized envelopes (No. 10) for each property owner whose property is within 300 feet of the subject property. These envelopes are to provide three public notice mailings; the envelopes must be sorted into three separate sets with each set containing one envelope for each property owner.

L.    Applications found to contain material errors shall not be deemed complete until such material errors are corrected.

M.    The public works director may waive specific submittal requirements determined to be unnecessary for review of the application. (Ord. 2023 § 1 (Exh. A), 2009; Ord. 1634 § 1, 1996).

18.08.040 Criteria for approval.

A variance shall be granted by the city only if an applicant demonstrates all of the following:

A.    The strict enforcement of the provisions of this title or the Bothell Standards creates an unreasonable hardship to the property owner;

B.    The variance is reasonable because of the unique size, shape, topography, or location of the subject property;

C.    The subject property is deprived, by provisions of this title or the Bothell Standards, of rights and privileges enjoyed by other properties in the vicinity and under an identical zone;

D.    The need for the variance is not the result of deliberate actions of the applicant or property owner;

E.    The variance does not create public health or safety hazards;

F.    The variance does not relieve an applicant from any of the procedural provisions of this title or the Bothell Standards;

G.    The variance does not allow establishment of a use that is not otherwise permitted in the zone in which the proposal is located;

H.    The variance is the minimum necessary to relieve the applicant of the unreasonable hardship;

I.    The variance from public works engineering standards or site improvement requirements does not infringe upon or interfere with easement or covenant rights or responsibilities;

J.    The variance does not relieve an applicant from the provisions of the Critical Area Regulations, Chapter 14.04 BMC, and the shoreline master program, except as provided therein;

K.    In the case of a waterward shoreline variance, the following additional criteria are met:

1.    Strict application of the standards precludes a reasonable allowable use of the subject property; and

2.    The public rights of navigation and use of the shoreline shall not be adversely affected; and

L.    In the case of the minimum requirements contained in the Bothell Standards, Chapter 4, Bothell Surface Water Design Manual, exceptions shall only be granted if such application of minimum requirements imposes a severe and unexpected economic hardship on the project applicant. The following shall also apply:

1.    Any exception must also meet the following criteria:

a.    The exception will not increase risk to the public health and welfare, nor be injurious to other properties in the vicinity and/or downstream, and to the quality of waters of the state; and

b.    The exception is the least possible exception that could be granted to comply with the intent of the minimum requirements.

2.    A written finding of fact shall be prepared that considers and documents the following:

a.    The current (pre-project) use of the site; and

b.    How the application of the minimum requirement(s) restricts the proposed use of the site compared to the restrictions that existed prior to the adoption of the minimum requirements; and

c.    The possible remaining uses of the site if the exception were not granted; and

d.    The uses of the site that would have been allowed prior to the adoption of the minimum requirements; and

e.    A comparison of the estimated amount and percentage of value loss as a result of the minimum requirements versus the estimated amount and percentage of value loss as a result of requirements that existed prior to adoption of the minimum requirements; and

f.    The feasibility for the owner to alter the project to apply the minimum requirements. (Ord. 2023 § 1 (Exh. A), 2009; Ord. 1634 § 1, 1996).

18.08.050 Decision process.

A.    The public works director shall first determine whether an initial request shall be subject to this process or shall be handled administratively as a permissible alternative to the public works regulations and/or Bothell Standards. The public works director shall review variance requests associated with public works codes and Bothell Standards and make written recommendations to the applicable hearing body for conditions of approval or denial.

    Processing the variance request shall conform to requirements of BMC Title 11, Administration of Development Regulations.

B.    Variance requests to the minimum requirements found in Bothell Standards, Chapter 4, Bothell Surface Water Design Manual are also subject to the following:

1.    A written finding of fact shall be prepared by the public works director that documents the determination to grant an exception to the minimum requirements.

2.    The city shall keep records, including the written findings of fact, of all exceptions to the minimum requirements.

3.    The city shall seek prior approval from the Washington State Department of Ecology for any city-wide exemption(s). (Ord. 2023 § 1 (Exh. A), 2009; Ord. 1634 § 1, 1996).