Chapter 18.34
SHORT SUBDIVISION

Sections:

18.34.010    Title.

18.34.020    Purpose.

18.34.030    Applicability.

18.34.040    Definitions.

18.34.050    Exemptions.

18.34.055    Informal review.

18.34.060    Application.

18.34.070    General standards.

18.34.080    Administration.

18.34.090    Review by agencies.

18.34.100    Preliminary approval.

18.34.110    Appeal.

18.34.140    Duration of preliminary approval.

18.34.145    Final approval and recording.

18.34.150    Final short plat.

18.34.155    Short plat revisions.

18.34.160    Variances.

18.34.170    Enforcement.

18.34.175    Exception for innocent purchaser for value.

18.34.177    Innocent purchaser appeals.

18.34.180    Relief for an innocent purchaser for value.

18.34.190    Unapproved short plat – Filing.

18.34.200    Resubdivision requirements.

18.34.210    Violations – Penalties.

18.34.010 Title.

This chapter may be cited as the “Cowlitz County Short Subdivision Code.” [Ord. 13-009 § 1, 1-29-13.]

18.34.020 Purpose.

The Board of County Commissioners deems it necessary to establish standards and procedures set forth in this chapter for the following purposes:

A. To insure the orderly development of small subdivisions of land;

B. To assure the orderly development of the unincorporated area of Cowlitz County, consistent with the Comprehensive Plan, Zoning Ordinance, and the State Planning Enabling Act;

C. To establish procedure which promotes the timely review of short subdivision developments in the county;

D. To promote the public health, safety and general welfare;

E. To comply with the State Subdivision Law, Chapter 58.17 RCW;

F. To enable the conveyance of land, by accurate land description, by reference to an approved short subdivision. [Ord. 13-009 § 1, 1-29-13.]

18.34.030 Applicability.

A. Any division of land which will result in the creation of four or less lots, tracts, parcels, sites or subdivisions, any one of which is less than five acres in area, for the purpose of sale, lease or transfer of ownership; provided, that land contained within a short subdivision shall not be further divided for a period of five years from the date of filing of a short plat without the filing of a final plat, except that when the short plat contains fewer than four parcels, nothing in this chapter shall prevent the filing of an alteration within the five-year period to create up to a total of four lots within the original short plat boundaries. Contiguous common parcels shall be treated as contained in a short subdivision only for determining whether or not the division of land proposed is a subdivision, a short subdivision or a resubdivision.

B. Divisions of land creating five or more lots shall be considered under the provisions of the Cowlitz County Urban Subdivision Code, Rural Subdivision Code, or Large Lot Subdivision Code, as applicable. [Ord. 13-009 § 1, 1-29-13.]

18.34.040 Definitions.

For the purpose of this chapter, the following terms shall be defined as follows, and all other words used in this chapter shall carry the customary meanings:

“Binding site plan” means a drawing to scale which:

1. Identifies and shows the areas and locations of all streets, roads, improvements, utilities and open spaces; and

2. Contains provisions making any development be in conformity with the site plan.

“Board” means Board of County Commissioners.

“Boundary line adjustment” or “BLA” means the alteration of the boundary between two or more legal lots, tracts, or parcels which does not result in the creation of any additional lot(s); also known as boundary adjustment or lot line adjustment.

“Building site” means portion of a parcel of land occupied or intended to be occupied by one main building and its accessory buildings; subject to required setbacks.

“Commission” means Cowlitz County Planning Commission.

“Common ownership (ownership interest)” means all contiguous lots or parcels which are either owned by a single individual or entity (corporation, LLC, etc.) at the time of application and/or final plat approval. Individual ownership and membership in an entity is considered common ownership; provided, that the individual is a member of the entity under application.

“Comprehensive Plan” means a coordinated plan for the physical development of the county, designating, among other things, elements and programs to encourage the most appropriate use of land and to lessen congestion throughout the county in the interest of public health, safety, and welfare and promote efficiency and economy. For purposes of this chapter, the Comprehensive Plan is the text and map as adopted by the Board, and thereafter amended.

“Contiguous parcels” means abutting, adjoining, or adjacent parcels with a common boundary line, except that where two or more lots adjoin only at a corner or corners, they shall not be considered as “abutting.” It shall include the terms abutting, adjacent, and adjoining parcels.

“County Engineer” means the County Road Engineer or his/her designee.

“Critical area” includes the following areas and ecosystems: (1) wetlands; (2) areas with a critical recharging effect on aquifers used for potable water; (3) fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas; (4) frequently flooded areas; and (5) geologically hazardous areas as defined in RCW 36.70A.030.

“Day” means days that the Department is open for business, unless otherwise specified.

“Dedications” means the deliberate appropriation of land by an owner for any general or public uses reserving to himself no other rights than such as are compatible with the full exercise and enjoyment of the public uses to which the property has been devoted.

“Department” means Department of Building and Planning.

“Director” means the Director of the Cowlitz County Building and Planning Department. The term includes Planning Director, and may include any person designated by the Director to administer the provisions of this chapter.

“Division of land” means any conveyance, not otherwise exempt or provided for in this chapter, which alters the legal description of any lot or parcel that was segregated and recorded prior to the effective date of the short subdivision ordinance of Cowlitz County or hereafter amended.

“Easement” means a written grant by a property owner to specific individuals, corporations or to the public or its agencies to use land for specific purposes.

“Engineer” means a professional engineer, currently licensed by the state of Washington.

“Final short plat” means the final drawing of the short subdivision, including dedication, prepared for filing for record with the Cowlitz County Auditor and containing all the elements and requirements that are set forth in this chapter and regulations adopted pursuant to this chapter.

“Health officer” means the health officer of Cowlitz County or his/her designee.

“Improvement” means any structure or works constructed including but not limited to homes, accessory buildings, roads, storm drainage systems, ditches and dikes, sanitary sewerage facilities, storm drainage containment facilities and water systems.

“Large on-site sewage system (LOSS)” means an integrated arrangement of components for a residence, building, industrial establishment or other places not connected to a public sewer system which: conveys, stores, treats, and/or provides subsurface soil treatment and disposal on the property where it originates, or on adjacent or nearby property; and includes piping, treatment devices, other accessories, and soil underlying the disposal component of the initial and reserve areas; and has design flows, at any common point, greater than 3,500 gallons per day.

“Legal lot” is a parcel which is capable of being presumed as legal under the regulations of this title. Even though a lot may be presumed legal, it is buildable only if it was lawfully created prior to February 6, 1976, as evidenced by a recorded survey, or by either the payment of excise tax or recording of the deed or the recorded commencement of a contract of sale in the Auditor’s Office.

“Lot” means a fractional part of divided lands, having fixed boundaries being of sufficient area and dimension to meet current minimum zoning or Comprehensive Plan standards for width and area. The term shall include tracts and parcels, but shall not include land divided for purposes of financing or taxation. Lot area and dimensions shall include any area within the public right-of-way bounded by the centerline of the road and the side lines of the lot extended along the same bearing as the closest section of the applicable side lot line to the road right-of-way centerline. For the purposes of these regulations, any portion of a lot lying below the ordinary high water mark or lawfully constructed bulkhead of larger, navigable rivers may not be included in lot area or dimension calculations. Larger, navigable rivers include the Columbia, Cowlitz, Kalama, Coweeman, Toutle, and Lewis Rivers to the extent that they are within shorelines jurisdiction as identified in Chapter 173-18 WAC.

“Lot width” means the horizontal distance between opposite side lot lines as measured at the front building setback line and/or building site.

“On-site sewage system (OSS)” means an integrated system of components, located on or nearby the property it serves, that conveys, stores, treats, and/or provides subsurface soil treatment and dispersal of sewage. It consists of a collection system, a treatment component or treatment sequence, and a soil dispersal component.

“Owner” means the owner of record, as determined by the records of the County Auditor; provided, that the owner under a real estate contract is the purchaser-vendee, the owner of mortgaged property is the mortgagor, and the owner of property subject to a deed of trust is the grantor.

“Person” means any individual, firm, partnership, association, social and fraternal organization, corporation, estate, trust, receiver, syndicate, branch of government, or any other group or combination acting as a unit.

“Plat” means the map or representation of the subdivision showing therein the division of a tract or parcel of land into more than four lots if any one of the divisions is less than five acres in size with blocks, streets, alleys and other divisions and dedications.

“Private road” means any vehicular access way, designed or intended to serve three or more lots or dwelling units or any commercial business, which has not been dedicated as a public roadway; private roadways may also include bridges.

Professional Land Surveyor. As used in this chapter, “surveyor” means every person authorized to practice the profession of land surveying under the provisions of Chapter 18.43 RCW.

“Public sewer system” means a public sewerage system.

“Right-of-way” is a general term denoting land, property or interest therein, usually in a strip acquired to or devoted for transportation and/or utility purposes.

“Road” means a private or public roadway, including right-of-way. Private roads shall be as defined and regulated in Chapter 11.36 CCC. Public roads shall be as defined and regulated in Chapters 36.75 through 36.87 RCW. This term includes roads, streets, highways, avenues, boulevards, and thoroughfares, and includes improvements such as lighting, curbs, sidewalks, and pavement within the road right-of-way.

“Short plat” means the map of the short subdivision.

“Short subdivision” means the division or redivision of land into four or fewer lots, tracts, sites, parcels or divisions for the purpose of sale, lease or transfer of ownership, any of which is less than five acres in size.

“State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA)” means the State Environmental Policy Act as defined by Chapter 43.21C RCW as it now exists or is hereafter amended.

“Subdivision” means a division or redivision of land into five or more lots, tracts, parcels, sites or divisions for the purpose of sale, lease or transfer of ownership, any of which is less than five acres in size.

“Survey monument” means the physical structure, along with any references or accessories thereto, used to mark the location of a land boundary survey corner, geodetic control point, or local control point, in compliance with Chapter 332-120 WAC.

“Title” refers to CCC Title 18.

“Wastewater designer” means a person who matches site and soil characteristics with appropriate on-site sewage technology. Throughout this chapter this term applies to both on-site sewage treatment system designers licensed under Chapter 18.210 RCW and professional engineers licensed under Chapter 18.43 RCW.

“Water availability certificate” is a certificate issued by Cowlitz County prior to application for a building permit of a building necessitating potable water [RCW 19.27.097], and prior to final approval of rural and short subdivisions.

“Witness corner” means a reference point, marked by a survey monument, that is situated at a known distance and bearing from a land survey corner, in compliance with Chapter 332-120 WAC.

“Zoning Ordinance” refers to the Cowlitz County Land Use Ordinance, Chapter 18.10 CCC. [Ord. 13-009 § 1, 1-29-13.]

18.34.050 Exemptions.

Provisions of this chapter shall not apply to:

A. Cemeteries and other burial plots all used for that purpose;

B. Divisions made by testamentary provisions, or the laws of descent; provided, that newly created parcels are subject to all zoning and building code regulations in effect at the time of the filing of a complete development permit application for such parcel;

C. Any division of land pursuant to Chapter 58.17 RCW, governing the divisions containing dedications and divisions of land into five or more lots, parcels or tracts, as applicable under the Cowlitz County Urban Subdivision Code or Rural Subdivision Code;

D. Boundary line adjustments;

E. Divisions of land for sale or lease to an agency or division of government vested with the power of eminent domain;

F. All divisions of land prior to February 6, 1976, as evidenced by public record, either through the payment of excise tax or recording of the deed or contract of sale in the Auditor’s Office;

G. Divisions of land approved pursuant to the Cowlitz County Large Lot Subdivision Code or exempted pursuant to CCC 18.38.050(H);

H. Any conveyance of land by a partial fulfillment deed under the same name for financial segregation given to the original purchaser under a real estate contract; provided, that the entire lot within the original real estate contract shall be recognized as a single legal lot and single buildable parcel until the property is subdivided in compliance with this chapter, and that there shall be no retransfer of any lot created by partial fulfillment deed without compliance with this chapter;

I. Land divisions and transfers intended to be used for agricultural uses or timber production as defined in RCW 84.34.020 for which no development permits are necessary, are excepted from the standard specified in CCC 18.34.070; provided any future development will require full compliance with this title;

J. Binding site plans approved pursuant to the Cowlitz County Commercial and Industrial Site Plan Code. [Ord. 13-009 § 1, 1-29-13.]

18.34.055 Informal review.

Before making an application for short subdivision approval, the applicant may arrange to have the proposal reviewed informally by submitting one copy of the proposal to the director for a presubmission conference. The applicant’s proposal should include a map and a general project description. Based on the provided information, the Director will provide relevant information concerning potential requirements for the proposal. Information provided in the informal review is not considered a requirement of short subdivision approval, but is for informational purposes only to assist the applicant in determining the feasibility of the project. [Ord. 13-009 § 1, 1-29-13.]

18.34.060 Application.

A. Procedure. Any person seeking to divide land in the unincorporated area of Cowlitz County pursuant to this chapter shall submit an application for preliminary short subdivision approval to the Department together with all required fees. Fees and charges for processing applications, revisions, appeals, variances, plat approvals, checking plans and specifications, recording documents, and other administrative actions under this chapter, shall be as from time to time established by resolution by the Board.

B. Preliminary Application. The preliminary application shall be on a form provided by the Department and shall contain the following information:

1. The name, address and telephone number of the owner;

2. The name, address and telephone number of the developer if different from owner;

3. A certification by the owner identifying all contiguous parcels under common ownership of land in which there is an interest by reason of ownership, contract of purchase, earnest money agreement or option by any person, firm or corporation in any manner connected with the development, and the names and addresses and telephone numbers of all such persons, firms or corporations;

4. The existing zoning classification, and Comprehensive Plan classification;

5. The proposed method of providing a potable water supply, and, if a public system is used, the name of the supplier;

6. The proposed method of sewage disposal, and if sanitary sewer is used, the name of the district or purveyor having management over the system;

7. Signature of owner(s) and developer(s);

8. A copy of the most recent deeds of the property being subdivided;

9. Vicinity map(s) showing the boundary line of the original tract and of common parcels;

10. Copies of any development restrictions proposed to be imposed upon the use of the land;

11. A copy of the short subdivision environmental checklist;

12. If required, a completed SEPA checklist;

13. The applicant shall consult with the Department if there are any critical areas identified on the site, as defined in the Critical Areas Protection Ordinance, Chapter 19.15 CCC;

14. Identification of critical areas on or within 200 feet of the property to be subdivided. The applicant shall demonstrate that all reasonable efforts have been examined with the intent to avoid and minimize impacts to critical areas. Where avoidance of critical areas is not possible, new lots with building envelopes, access roads, and utilities may be permitted within critical areas, provided an assessment by a qualified professional demonstrates that the proposal will not adversely impact the critical area or adjacent properties. Development within critical areas or critical areas buffers may be required to comply with mitigation requirements in CCC 19.15.170.

a. Any special reports, if required, will be submitted to the Department prior to the application being deemed complete. Special reports shall be prepared by a qualified professional and meet the criteria for the applicable report type as identified in Chapter 19.15 CCC.

b. Any required reports shall be submitted within 90 calendar days following the date of the letter requesting additional information; provided, a 90-day extension may be available upon the applicant’s request.

15. A preliminary map shall contain the following information:

a. The date, scale and north arrow; scaled to an appropriate size or other scale as approved,

b. The distances of the boundary lines, to scale, of the tract to be subdivided and each lot contained therein,

c. The number assigned to each lot,

d. The location, names, widths and Auditor’s file number of any existing easements, existing and proposed roads, existing and proposed rights-of-way for public services or utilities within the area contained within the short subdivision, and within 100 feet thereof, and location of the nearest county road, if there is not a county road within 100 feet,

e. The boundaries of all lands reserved in the deeds for the common uses of the property owners of the short subdivision,

f. The location of permanent and topographic features, which will have an impact upon the short subdivision, such as all existing or platted streets adjacent to the short subdivision, critical areas, shorelines, watercourses, floodplain/floodway boundaries, site topography, railroad rights-of-way, all utility rights-of-way, township lines and section lines. [Ord. 13-009 § 1, 1-29-13.]

18.34.070 General standards.

A. The following standards shall be applicable to all short subdivisions:

1. Lot Size. The minimum size of any lot within a short subdivision located in an area that is districted pursuant to the Cowlitz County Zoning Code shall conform to the minimum lot size specified in the Zoning Code, the recommended density set forth in the Comprehensive Plan, or such larger size as specified by state health regulations, whichever is greater. In all areas of the county, new lots using on-site septic systems must meet the minimum lot size requirements established by WAC 246-272A-0320 (or hereafter amended).

2. Lot Width. The minimum lot width shall be consistent with the County Zoning Code for those zoned portions of the county. All short subdivisions locating in unzoned areas of the county shall be consistent with the lot widths enumerated in the Comprehensive Plan designation for that area, as required by health regulations, or no less than 60 feet in width at the building line, whichever is greatest.

3. Easements. Easements may be required for, but not limited to: road, road maintenance, utility installation and maintenance, public access, drainage, and buffer strips or protective easements. Dedications of easements on the face of the plat are only allowed for and between the lots within the boundaries of a short subdivision, and are subject to the incorporation of appropriate dedication language on the face of the final plat. Easements involving properties outside the boundaries of a short subdivision shall be recorded separately prior to final plat approval. The appropriate Auditor’s file number shall be identified on the face of the final plat.

4. Septic Suitability. Each lot within a short subdivision not currently served by public sewer shall demonstrate the capability to support, wholly within its boundaries, an on-site septic system and septic reserve area(s), exclusive of any easements.

a. On-Site Soil and Septic Evaluations. All evaluations shall be conducted by a wastewater designer or a professional engineer licensed in the state of Washington, and meet the requirements of Chapter 246-272A WAC and Chapter 15.42 CCC (or hereafter amended).

b. Soils Test Approval. All soil tests for new and existing lots, including all primary and reserve area dedications, shall be submitted to the Cowlitz County Environmental Health Unit for approval.

c. New Lots. Each new lot shall have an on-site septic and soils evaluation completed identifying a septic drainfield and reserve area.

d. Existing Lot(s). Existing septic systems shall be professionally evaluated by a wastewater designer or a professional engineer licensed in the state of Washington. All dedications of reserve areas shall include a soils test, and meet the requirements of Chapter 246-272A WAC and Chapter 15.42 CCC (or hereafter amended).

i. Existing septic systems less than two years old shall be professionally evaluated. Evaluation shall include, at a minimum, observation/inspection of drain line laterals and septic tank.

ii. Existing systems older than two years shall be professionally evaluated using one of the following methods:

(A) Evaluation of the septic system, including, at a minimum, observation/inspection of the drain line laterals, septic tank inspection, septic tank pumping, and identification of a reserve area, including the size and the potential system type.

(B) An operations and maintenance inspection meeting the standards of CCC 15.42.160, including the identification of two reserve areas.

iii. For the purposes of this chapter, the age of a system shall be measured from the time of final inspection of the septic system to the date of application for the short subdivision.

e. Septic Failures. If an existing system is found to be in a state of failure, then it shall be replaced and/or repaired in accordance with Chapter 15.42 CCC and Chapter 246-272A WAC (or hereafter amended).

5. Water Availability. Each lot within a short subdivision shall be required to demonstrate sufficient availability of potable water.

a. Availability of potable water shall be proven by one of the following methods:

i. Certificate of water availability from the Cowlitz County Environmental Health Unit for each lot demonstrating the availability of potable water.

ii. Letter of water availability from the water purveyor for each lot within the short subdivision.

iii. Other documentation as approved by the Cowlitz County Health Department.

b. Easements, shared well agreements, identification of the source protection area, and/or restrictive covenants shall be recorded prior to final plat approval. All applicable Auditor’s file numbers shall be identified on the face of the final plat.

c. The 100-foot radius source protection area surrounding a new wellhead shall be contained completely within the exterior boundaries of the original property being subdivided; provided, an easement or restrictive covenant, which shall run with the land, shall be obtained from an abutting landowner(s) when the source protection area extends beyond the boundaries of the subdivided property.

6. Surveys. Surveys shall be required for all short subdivisions.

a. All surveys shall be required to comply with current surveying standard practices and law. All surveys are required to comply with Chapter 58.09 RCW and meet the minimum standards as set forth in Chapter 332-130 WAC (or hereafter amended).

b. Monumentation. Permanent control monuments shall be established at each and every controlling corner on the boundaries of the parcel of land being subdivided. Permanent control monuments shall also be established at each and every controlling corner within the parcel of land being subdivided. Any monument set shall be permanently marked or tagged with the certificate number of the land surveyor setting it. All monuments shall be shown on the face of the final short plat.

c. Witness Corners. Witness corners shall be allowed only when a physical impediment (i.e., tree, rock, stream) to setting a land boundary corner exists. Other situations requiring the use of witness corners must be preapproved by the County Engineer.

7. Access. Each lot within a short subdivision shall be provided with satisfactory access by means of a public or private right-of-way connecting to an existing and developed public street, or by some other legally sufficient right-of-access, inseparable from the lot to be served;

a. All new lots in areas that are classified as urban or suburban by the Cowlitz County Comprehensive Plan or the Zoning Code are required to physically front on a publicly maintained roadway or private roadway permitted since the adoption of the Cowlitz County Private Roadways Ordinance (Ord. 99-207) or as hereafter amended for a minimum distance of 25 feet.

b. All new and existing private roads serving lots within the short subdivision shall meet the requirements of Chapter 11.36 CCC, the Cowlitz County Private Roadways Ordinance.

c. New driveways may be required to be installed prior to final plat approval in order to prove access viability. Driveway approaches shall be constructed according to Public Works road approach standards.

d. Any right-of-way or road surface not open to general public use shall be retained as a privately owned and privately maintained road.

e. Privately owned roads shall be open for necessary public use.

8. All short subdivisions shall comply with the minimum requirements of the International Fire Code, as adopted or amended by the Board.

B. Standards applicable to all short subdivisions along public roads are as follows:

1. Dedication, deeding, or granting of a road easement to the county of such right-of-way as may be consistent with adopted county standards, or as amended, for public roads, or a portion thereof, shall be required within or along the boundaries of the short plat of any lot(s) within, under the following circumstances:

a. Where the six-year capital improvement plan indicates the necessity of a new right-of-way or portion thereof for road purposes;

b. When there is less than the standard right-of-way from the centerline of the road to the property line;

c. Where necessary to extend or complete the existing road;

d. When necessary to develop better traffic circulation in the community or neighborhood.

2. Public roads right-of-way widths and improvements shall be consistent with adopted county road standards and specifications. [Ord. 16-039 § 6, 3-15-16; Ord. 15-039 § 6, 3-24-15; Ord. 13-009 § 1, 1-29-13.]

18.34.080 Administration.

A. Responsibility for Administration. The Director of the Building and Planning Department shall be responsible for administering the provisions of this chapter and with authority to summarily approve or disapprove a proposed short plat under the guidelines set forth in this chapter; to approve/disapprove variances and to approve or disapprove final applications of short subdivisions. The Director shall prepare and require the use of such forms as deemed essential to the implementation of this chapter.

B. Preliminary Application. When the Director determines that the proposed short plat application contains the required information and data as a basis for its approval or disapproval, a file number and a date of receipt shall be affixed and copies of the short plat application shall be distributed to the following:

1. Health Officer or his designee;

2. County Engineer;

3. Fire District or Fire/Life Safety Coordinator;

4. Public Utilities District (PUD) No. 1;

5. Applicable water and sewer purveyor;

6. Federal, state, or local agency which may have an interest in the short plat as determined by the Director;

7. Geographic Information System Department;

8. Washington Department of Transportation when adjacent to a state highway right-of-way.

C. Timing of Review. The Director shall set a date for return of findings and recommendations from each agency, the date to be 10 working days from the date of the respective agency’s receipt of application. If the findings and recommendations are not so returned, then the Director may make such findings as he deems just. [Ord. 13-009 § 1, 1-29-13.]

18.34.090 Review by agencies.

A. The Health Officer or his designee shall notify the Director that:

1. The sewage disposal methods contemplated for use in the proposed short subdivision do or do not conform with current standards; and

2. The feasibility of potable water supply has or has not been demonstrated.

B. The County Engineer shall notify the Director that:

1. The proposed road, utilities and other improvements do or do not conform to adopted road standards;

2. The adjacent public road rights-of-way do or do not conform to adopted county standards;

3. Access to the boundary of all short subdivisions shall be provided by an opened, constructed and maintained city or county road, except that access to the boundary of a short subdivision by private road may be permitted where such private roads are otherwise permitted by this title;

4. That the legal description or survey does or does not conform to the standard practice and principles of land surveying.

C. The appropriate Fire District or Fire/Life Safety Coordinator shall respond to the Director of any concerns on fire protection and ingress and egress of emergency vehicles.

D. Other agencies shall notify the Director of their concerns and shall so list their concerns for consideration by the Director. [Ord. 13-009 § 1, 1-29-13.]

18.34.100 Preliminary approval.

A. Within 30 days of receipt of the complete preliminary short subdivision application or a longer period as agreed to by the applicant, the Director shall review the reports and comments of the reviewing agencies, pursuant to CCC 18.34.080, and shall make a determination and prepare written findings to approve, amend, or return the preliminary short subdivision application; such determination shall be based upon consideration of the following:

1. Whether it is in conformance with the general purposes, standards and requirements of the Cowlitz County Comprehensive Plan, Zoning Ordinance, environmental policy ordinance and with other applicable laws and county policies. Conditions may be placed upon the proposed subdivision to ensure compliance with applicable local, state, and federal codes.

2. The physical characteristics of the short subdivision site. If the site contains critical areas, the preliminary short subdivision may be denied or conditionally approved. Conditions may be placed upon the proposed subdivision to ensure compliance with the Critical Areas Protection Ordinance, Chapter 19.15 CCC.

3. Whether the land has been included within a short subdivision within five years preceding the date of filing.

4. Whether appropriate provisions are made for, but not limited to, the public health, safety and general welfare, for open spaces, drainage ways, streets or roads, alleys or other public ways, transit stops, potable water supplies, sanitary wastes, parks and recreation, playgrounds, schools and school grounds, and shall consider all other relevant facts, including sidewalks and other planning features that assure safe walking conditions for students who only walk to and from school.

5. Whether the public interest will be served by the short subdivision and dedication (if applicable).

B. After consideration of the aforementioned concerns, the applicant shall be notified of the Director’s determination. Such determination shall be one of the following:

1. Approval of the preliminary short subdivision, including any conditions or corrections to be met prior to final approval;

2. Denial of the preliminary short subdivision with written findings. [Ord. 16-040 § 3, 3-15-16; Ord. 13-009 § 1, 1-29-13.]

18.34.110 Appeal.

A. A person aggrieved by the decision of the Director may appeal said decision to the Hearing Examiner, appointed pursuant to CCC 18.10.340, as amended. Any such appeal shall be filed in writing with the Department along with the appropriate fee established from time to time by resolution of the Board of County Commissioners within 20 calendar days of the issuance of the decision. The appeal shall specify the reasons therefor. The Director shall provide the Hearing Examiner with findings and documentation relating to the decision

being appealed. The Hearing Examiner, following a de novo hearing, shall affirm, modify or reverse the Director’s decision with written findings and conclusions. The appellant carries the burden of proof on appeal.

B. Upon the filing of an appeal with appropriate fee, the Director shall set the public hearing before the Hearing Examiner. If the appeal is filed 20 calendar days or more before the Hearing Examiner’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting, he/she shall hear the appeal at that meeting as set by the Director. For appeals filed within 19 calendar days of the regularly scheduled monthly meeting, the Hearing Examiner shall hear the appeal in the subsequent month.

C. Notice of the time, date and place of the hearing shall be sent to the appellant and the permittee by first class mail prior to the public hearing. Legal notice of the hearing shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation and the subject property shall be posted with the notice not less than 10 calendar days prior to the public hearing.

D. Within 10 calendar days after the public hearing, the Hearing Examiner shall issue a written decision, including findings of fact on which his/her decision is based. Such written decision shall be available to the appellant and the public upon request. [Ord. 13-009 § 1, 1-29-13.]

18.34.140 Duration of preliminary approval.

Preliminary approval will be effective for two years. During this period a final short plat may be prepared. If the preliminary approval contains conditions, the applicant shall submit proof of meeting such conditions. Upon application within this period, for good cause having been shown, the Director may grant an additional six-month time extension to the applicant for meeting conditions of approval. [Ord. 13-009 § 1, 1-29-13.]

18.34.145 Final approval and recording.

When the short subdivision and the short plat meet all the requirements therefor, and will serve the public use and interest, and the subdivider has provided all the required documentation/certification, then the approval shall be inscribed upon the face of the short plat. The Administrator and the County Engineer will demonstrate approval by signing the short plat.

The action of approving a short plat shall become effective when the final short plat and supporting documents are filed for record with the Auditor of Cowlitz County. The submission for filing shall include four paper copies of the short plat. The Auditor shall transmit copies of the approved short plat to the Administrator, the County Engineer, the PUD, and the applicant.

No final short plat will be accepted for filing unless, for all property described herein, all taxes payable to the county and secured by a lien against such property or any portion thereof, including all real property taxes for the current year, have been paid in full to the County Treasurer. [Ord. 13-009 § 1, 1-29-13.]

18.34.150 Final short plat.

A. Final Plat. The final short plat shall be in black ink on a sheet of mylar or paper having dimensions of 18 inches by 24 inches. The plat shall contain, but not be limited to, the following:

1. Date, scale, north arrow, point of beginning and basis of bearing;

2. The bearings and distances of the boundary lines drawn to scale, of the tract to be short subdivided, and of each lot contained therein;

3. Legal description of the parcel being subdivided;

4. Lot number and area of each lot;

5. Location, name, width, and nature of existing and proposed roads, rights-of-way, easements and the access to a public road; private roads shall be labeled as “private road and utility easements”;

6. Signature block for the Director, County Engineer, and Treasurer;

7. Identification of proposed and existing septic drainfields and drainfield reserve areas;

8. Identification of all well locations, well identification numbers and source protection areas;

9. Auditor file numbers for all easements outside of the boundaries of the short subdivision that affect the proposed subdivision, as well as Auditor file numbers for all easements within the boundaries of the proposed subdivision that affect property outside the boundaries of the property being subdivided;

10. Identification of any critical areas impacting the property and necessary critical area buffer. Appropriate buffer restriction language may be placed on the face of the final plat;

11. The following plat notes shall be shown on the face of all final plats:

(1) Land within this short subdivision shall not be further divided for a period of five years unless a final plat is filed pursuant to Cowlitz County Subdivision Code and RCW 58.17;

(2) The approval of this short subdivision does not guarantee the issuance of any other permits.

(3) WARNING: Cowlitz County has no responsibility to build, improve, maintain, or otherwise service any private roads contained within or providing service to the property described in this short plat.

(4) In the event that any private road or driveway is improved to Cowlitz County standards for public streets and the County is willing to accept the dedication of such road, each lot owner shall execute any documents necessary to accomplish such dedication.

12. Other plat notes may be required depending on the situation. These may include, but are not limited to: Well Sanitary Zone restriction language, fire protection language, and setback restrictions;

13. A signature block for all individuals having an interest in the property; including a notary signature block;

14. When a short subdivision includes a public dedication, the following declaration of short subdivision shall be shown on the face of the final plat:

WE, THE UNDERSIGNED OWNER(S) OF THE HEREIN DESCRIBED PROPERTY DEDICATE THESE LOTS TO THE PURCHASERS THEREOF. WE DEDICATE THE ROADS HEREIN AND THE EASEMENTS TO THE USE OF THE PUBLIC FOREVER AND HEREBY GRANT TO THE PUBLIC THE RIGHT TO MAKE ALL NECESSARY SLOPES FOR CUTS AND FILLS UPON THESE LOTS IN THE ORIGINAL REASONABLE GRADING OF THE STREETS.

COWLITZ COUNTY, ITS OFFICERS, EMPLOYEES, AGENTS, SUCCESSORS, ASSIGNS AND ITS CONTRACTORS, ARE HEREBY GRANTED A PERPETUAL EASEMENT WITH A RIGHT OF IMMEDIATE ENTRY AND CONTINUED ACCESS FOR THE CONSTRUCTION, IMPROVEMENT, MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR OF STORM DRAINAGE, WATER AND SANITARY SEWER PIPES, MANHOLES AND OTHER UTILITY STRUCTURES OVER, UNDER AND ACROSS THE EASEMENTS SHOWN ON THE FACE OF THE PLAT.

15. The short plat shall be signed and sealed by a registered land surveyor, and shall contain the following:

SURVEYOR’S CERTIFICATE: This map correctly represents a survey made by me or under my direction in conformance with the requirements of the Survey Recording Act 58.09 RCW at the request of _____________ in _________, 20_____.

(Signed and sealed)_____________

16. Auditor’s certificate, as follows:

AUDITOR’S CERTIFICATE:

Filed for record this ___ day of _________, 20___, at ___M., in book _______, of ____, at page ___, at the request of ______________________________.

Signed _________________

County Auditor

(Signed) ________________

Deputy County Auditor

17. Signatures, which are certified by a notary public, of all individuals having an interest in the property.

B. Final Supporting Documents. The following documents shall accompany each final short plat submitted:

1. Legal descriptions of the property being short subdivided, of each proposed lot, and of all common areas;

2. Legal descriptions of private roads and easements contained within or servicing the short subdivision;

3. A current title report or short subdivision certificate prepared by a title company;

4. Covenants or restrictions, if any, proposed to be placed on the use of the proposed subdivision;

5. When contiguous common parcels and/or original tract parcels exist, a description(s) of such parcel(s). [Ord. 16-113 § 2, 9-20-16; Ord. 13-054 § 1, 6-4-13; Ord. 13-009 § 1, 1-29-13.]

18.34.155 Short plat revisions.

A. Affidavit of Minor Correction of Survey. A professional land surveyor may file an “affidavit of minor correction of survey” pursuant to WAC 332-130-050 to correct minor survey, spelling, mathematical or drafting errors or omitted signatures. The surveyor shall file the affidavit of minor correction of survey with the county auditor and provide a copy to the Department of Building and Planning.

B. A recorded short plat may be revised if the following requirements are met:

1. A total of no more than four lots may be created within the boundaries of the short plat, either before or after revision.

2. All affected ownership interests within the boundaries of the originally recorded short plat shall indicate agreement to the proposed revision by signing the revised final short plat.

3. All short subdivision standards in effect at the time of revision shall be met. [Ord. 13-009 § 1, 1-29-13.]

18.34.160 Variances.

Where the Director finds that extraordinary hardship may result from the strict compliance with these regulations due to the size, shape, topography, location or surroundings as it relates to the property, he may vary these regulations so that substantial justice may be done and the public interest secured; provided, that such variance will not have the effect of nullifying the intent and purpose of the County Comprehensive Plan, and this chapter. The variance shall be subject to the approval of the Hearing Examiner, appointed pursuant to CCC 18.10.340, as amended, at a public meeting. A record shall be kept of all such grants of variances and shall be available for public inspections. [Ord. 13-009 § 1, 1-29-13.]

18.34.170 Enforcement.

A. No person shall sell, lease or transfer any real property which is less than five acres in area without full compliance with this title. All development permits for the improvement of any lot which is less than five acres in area, shall be withheld until the provisions of this title are met, pursuant to Washington State Subdivision Law. Also, the Administrator may revoke county development permits on parcels divided and transferred or leased which do not comply with this title.

B. The County Treasurer shall refuse to accept excise tax payment for any parcel of real property that has not been approved by the Administrator pursuant to this title.

C. An application for building permit, septic tank permit, or other development permit for any land divided in violation of state law or this chapter shall not be granted without prior approval of the Director as an exception for innocent purchaser for value, as provided in this chapter. [Ord. 16-114 § 1, 9-20-16; Ord. 13-009 § 1, 1-29-13.]

18.34.175 Exception for innocent purchaser for value.

A. A request for exception for innocent purchaser for value shall be filed with a notarized affidavit attesting to and demonstrating the following:

1. The applicant purchased the lot, tract, or parcel for market value, not reflecting the illegal division; and

2. The applicant did not know, and could not have known by the exercise of care which a reasonable purchaser would have used in purchasing land, that the lot, tract or parcel had been part of a larger lot, tract or parcel divided in violation of the state law or this chapter.

B. An exception for innocent purchaser shall be granted to an individual person or entity only once. If more than one lot, tract or parcel is involved with the request, the review shall be discretionary as provided in subsection D of this section.

C. Mandatory Approval. The Director shall determine that parcels meeting the following criteria are lots of record:

1. Zoning/Comprehensive Plan. The parcel meets the minimum dimensional requirements currently in effect, including lot size, dimensions, etc.

2. Platting.

a. Improvements or conditions of approval which would have been imposed if the parcel had been established through platting are already present or completed; or

b. The property owner completes conditions of approval such as, but not limited to: road, sidewalk, stormwater improvements, etc., which the Director determines would otherwise have been imposed if the parcel had been established through platting under current standards. Permits and fees may be required for subject improvements.

3. Public Interest. Public health, safety and welfare will not be adversely affected by the granting of an exception for innocent purchaser. This may include certification that the proposed means of sewage disposal and water supply to the property is adequate and/or that there is adequate access.

D. Discretionary Approval. The Director may, but is not obligated to, determine that parcels meeting the following are lots of record:

1. Zoning/Comprehensive Plan. The parcel lacks sufficient area or dimension to meet current requirements, such as lot size, dimensions, frontage, etc.

2. Compatibility. The parcel size is generally consistent with surrounding lots of record within 1,000 feet, or appropriate mitigation can be provided to offset impacts to neighborhood character.

3. Platting.

a. Improvements or conditions of approval which would have been imposed if the parcel had been established through platting are already present or completed; or

b. The property owner completes conditions of approval such as, but not limited to, road, sidewalk, stormwater improvements, etc., which the Director determines would otherwise have been imposed if the parcel had been established through platting under current standards. Permits and fees may be required for subject improvements.

4. Public Interest. Public health, safety and welfare will not be adversely affected by the granting of an exception for innocent purchaser. This may include certification that the proposed means of sewage disposal and water supply to the property is adequate, and/or there is adequate access.

E. All substandard contiguous lots created in violation of this chapter which are under the same ownership at the time of application for an exception for innocent purchaser shall be recognized only as a single lot. If an exception for innocent purchaser is granted, a new legal description shall be recorded reflecting the newly combined lot. [Ord. 16-114 § 2, 9-20-16.]

18.34.177 Innocent purchaser appeals.

Appeals shall be processed in accordance with Chapter 2.05 CCC and CCC 18.34.110. [Ord. 16-114 § 3, 9-20-16.]

18.34.180 Relief for an innocent purchaser for value.

A. Pursuant to RCW 58.17.210, and except as provided in CCC 18.34.170, all purchasers or transferees of property divided in violation of this chapter shall comply with provisions of this chapter. Each purchaser and transferee may recover his damages from any individual, firm, corporation, or agent selling or transferring land in violation of this chapter. This may include any amount reasonably spent as a result of inability to obtain any development permit and spent to conform to the requirements of this chapter as well as the cost of investigations, suit, and reasonable attorneys’ fees occasioned thereby.

B. Such purchaser or transferee may, as an alternative to conforming to these requirements, rescind the sale or transfer and recover the costs of investigation, suit, and reasonable attorneys’ fees occasioned thereby. [Ord. 13-009 § 1, 1-29-13.]

18.34.190 Unapproved short plat – Filing.

The Auditor shall refuse to accept for filing any short plat which does not bear the Administrator’s certificate of approval.

Should a short plat be filed without such a certificate, the prosecuting attorney shall apply for a writ of mandate on behalf of the Administrator, directing the Auditor to remove the unapproved plat from the Auditor’s files. [Ord. 13-009 § 1, 1-29-13.]

18.34.200 Resubdivision requirements.

Land within a short subdivision, including all land in the original tract or contiguous common parcels, the short plat of which has been approved within the immediately preceding five years, may not be further divided until a final plat has been approved and filed for record pursuant to County Subdivision Code, provided, nothing in this chapter shall prevent the filing of a revision within the five-year period to create up to a total of four lots within the original short plat boundaries. [Ord. 13-009 § 1, 1-29-13.]

18.34.210 Violations – Penalties.

It is a civil infraction for any person to violate this chapter or assist in the violation of this chapter, and a gross misdemeanor to violate or assist in the violation of Chapter 58.17 RCW. Violations are subject to the provisions of Chapter 2.06 CCC. Any violation is a public nuisance. Each day a violation exists is a separate violation. Payment of any penalty imposed for a violation does not relieve a person from the duty to comply with this chapter. [Ord. 13-009 § 1, 1-29-13.]