Chapter 15.25
LAND ALTERATIONS

Sections:

15.25.010    Purpose.

15.25.020    Scope.

15.25.030    Definitions.

15.25.040    References adopted.

15.25.050    Administration.

15.25.060    Hazards.

15.25.070    Permit required – Exception.

15.25.080    Emergency repairs or activities.

15.25.090    Application requirements.

15.25.100    Time limitation of application.

15.25.110    Validity of permit.

15.25.120    Permit expiration.

15.25.130    Suspension or revocation.

15.25.140    Liability insurance required – Exception.

15.25.150    Restrictions.

15.25.160    Standards.

15.25.170    Land restoration.

15.25.180    Shorelines.

15.25.190    Enforcement.

15.25.200    Financial guarantees authorized.

15.25.010 Purpose.

This chapter is intended to regulate land alterations within the City in order to protect public health, safety and welfare by:

A. Minimizing adverse stormwater impacts caused by land alterations;

B. Protecting water quality from the adverse impacts associated with erosion and sedimentation;

C. Minimizing aquatic and terrestrial wildlife habitat loss caused by the removal of vegetation;

D. Encouraging the retention of native vegetation and soils and soils during clearing and grading activities;

E. Protecting critical areas from adverse clearing and grading activities;

F. Preventing damage to property and harm to persons caused by land alterations;

G. Establishing administrative procedures for the issuance of permits, approval of plans, and inspection of land alteration operations; and

H. Providing penalties for the violation of this chapter. [Ord. 16-0428 § 11 (Att. G); Ord. 12-0345 § 3 (Exh. A).]

15.25.020 Scope.

The provisions of this chapter apply to land alterations within the City, except work located in a public right-of-way. Where conflicts occur between the technical requirements of this chapter and a geotechnical report, the geotechnical report shall govern. [Ord. 12-0345 § 3 (Exh. A).]

15.25.030 Definitions.

Certain words and phrases used in this chapter, unless otherwise clearly indicated by their context, mean as follows:

A. “Applicant” means a person who files an application for a permit under this chapter and who is either the owner of the land on which that proposed activity would be conducted, a contract purchaser, or the authorized agent of such a person.

B. “Bench” is a relatively level step excavated or constructed on the face of a graded slope surface for drainage and maintenance purposes.

C. “City manager” means the City of Kenmore city manager or his or her designee(s).

D. “Clearing” means the cutting or removal of vegetation or other organic plant material by physical, mechanical, chemical or any other means.

E. “Department” means the department designated by the city manager to administer this chapter.

F. “Diameter at breast height” means a tree’s diameter in inches at four and one-half feet above the ground. On multiple stemmed or trunked trees, the diameter shall be the sum of diameters of all individual stems or trunks.

G. “Director” means the director of the department designated by the city manager to administer this chapter.

H. “Earth material” is any rock, natural soil or any combination thereof.

I. “Erosion” is the wearing away of the ground surface as the result of the movement of wind, water and/or ice.

J. “Excavation” is the removal of earth material.

K. “Fill” is a deposit of earth material placed by mechanical means.

L. “Grade” means the elevation of the ground surface.

1. “Existing grade” is the grade prior to grading.

2. “Rough grade” is the stage at which the grade approximately conforms to the approved plan.

3. “Finish grade” is the final grade of the site which conforms to the approved plan.

M. “Grading” is any excavating, filling, removing of the duff layer, or combination thereof.

N. “Hazard tree” means any tree that has a high probability of failure due to any structural defect, disease or damage or combination of defect, disease or damage. A “high probability of failure” means falling and causing damage to persons or property. A “hazard tree” includes, but is not limited to, any isolated tree(s) that have a high probability of failure due to low wind-firmness in post-construction conditions as determined by a qualified tree protection professional.

O. “Impervious surface” means a nonvegetated surface which either prevents or retards the entry of water into the soil mantle under natural conditions prior to development, and/or which causes water to run off the surface in greater quantities or at a rate of flow greater than the flow under natural conditions prior to development. Common impervious surfaces include, but are not limited to, roofs, walkways, patios, driveways, parking lots, storage areas, paved areas, gravel areas, areas of packed or oiled earthen materials or other surfaces which similarly impede the natural infiltration of surface and stormwater. Open uncovered flow control or water quality treatment facilities shall not be considered as impervious surfaces for the purposes of determining whether thresholds for the application of minimum requirements are exceeded, but shall be considered impervious surfaces for the purposes of runoff modeling.

P. “Land alteration” means any alteration to the surface of the land or the surface drainage including improvements to a storm water tract. Land alterations include but are not limited to: excavations, fills, clearing, grading, and tree removal or any combination thereof; placing or removing impervious surfaces, including structures and pavement; compacting the earth surface; changing the existing grade; or changing the surface so that surface water leaves the site differently, including changes to flow path, flow rate, or flow volume.

Q. “Removal” with regard to trees means the act of removing a tree by digging up, cutting down, or causing a tree to die within a period of three years from such act.

R. “Shorelines” means those lands defined as shorelines in the State Shorelines Management Act of 1971.

S. “Significant tree” means an existing healthy tree that is not a hazard tree and that, when measured four and one-half feet above grade, has a minimum diameter of:

1. Eight inches for evergreen trees; or

2. Twelve inches for deciduous trees.

T. “Site” is any lot or parcel of land or contiguous combination thereof where projects covered by this chapter are performed or permitted.

U. “Slope” is an inclined ground surface, the inclination of which is expressed as a ratio of vertical distance to horizontal distance.

V. “Storm drain system” means a system of gutters, pipes, or ditches used to carry surface and stormwater from the surrounding lands to drainage facilities, critical areas, streams or lakes.

W. “Stormwater” means water originating from rainfall and other precipitation that ultimately flows into drainage facilities, rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands. As applied in this chapter, stormwater is synonymous with the term “surface water.”

X. “Structure” means anything permanently constructed in or on the ground, or over the water, and excluding fences eight feet or less in height, decks less than 18 inches above grade, paved areas, and structural or nonstructural fill.

Y. “Terrace” is a relatively level step excavated or constructed on the face of a graded slope surface for drainage and maintenance purposes.

Z. “Tree” means a self-supporting woody perennial plant characterized by one main stem or trunk of at least six inches diameter at breast height, or a multiple stemmed or trunk system with a definite crown, maturing at a height of at least 12 feet above ground level. The department shall determine whether any specific woody plant shall be considered a tree.

AA. “Vegetation” means any and all organic plant life growing at, below, or above the soil surface. [Ord. 16-0428 § 11 (Att. G); Ord. 12-0345 § 3 (Exh. A).]

15.25.040 References adopted.

The following codes and standards shall be considered part of the requirements of this chapter to the extent applicable. In the event of differences between provisions of this chapter and referenced codes and standards, the provisions of this chapter shall apply.

A. The street standards of Chapter 12.50 KMC;

B. The appropriate version of the Washington State Department of Transportation Standard Specifications for Road, Bridge, and Municipal Construction, as referenced in the road standards adopted by the City;

C. The King County Surface Water Design Manual (KCSWDM) adopted by Chapter 13.35 KMC;

D. The current edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD). [Ord. 12-0345 § 3 (Exh. A).]

15.25.050 Administration.

The city manager is authorized to enforce the provisions of this chapter.

A. Inspections. The city manager is authorized to make such inspections and take such actions as may be required to enforce the provisions of this chapter.

B. Right of Entry. Whenever necessary to make an inspection to enforce any of the provisions of this chapter, or whenever the city manager has reasonable cause to believe that any land, building, structure, premises, or portion thereof is being used in violation of this chapter, the city manager may enter such land, building, structure, premises, or portion thereof at all reasonable times to inspect the same or perform any duty imposed upon the director by this chapter; provided, that if such building, land, structure, premises or portion thereof is occupied, he shall first present proper credentials and demand entry, and if such land, building, structure, premises, or portion thereof be unoccupied, he shall first make a reasonable effort to locate the owner or other persons having charge or control of the land, building, structure, premises, or portion thereof and demand entry.

No owner or occupant or any other person having charge, care or control of any building, land, structure, premises, or portion thereof shall fail or neglect, after proper demand, to promptly permit entry thereon by the city manager for the purpose of inspection and examination pursuant to this chapter. Any person violating this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor. [Ord. 12-0345 § 3 (Exh. A).]

15.25.060 Hazards.

Whenever the city manager determines that an existing site, as a result of land alterations, has become a hazard to life and limb, or endangers property, or adversely affects the safety, use or stability of a public way or drainage channel, the owner of the property upon which the land alteration is located, or other person or agent in control of said property, upon receipt of notice in writing from the city manager, shall within the period specified therein restore the site affected by such land alteration or repair or eliminate such land alteration so as to eliminate the hazard and be in conformance with the requirements of this chapter. [Ord. 12-0345 § 3 (Exh. A).]

15.25.070 Permit required – Exception.

No land alteration shall be performed without first having obtained a permit therefor from the City. Exemptions from permit requirements of this chapter shall not be deemed to grant authorization for any work to be done in any manner in violation of the provisions of this chapter or any other laws or ordinances of the City. Even if a permit is required, best management practices must be utilized to limit erosion and sedimentation. Permits shall not be required for the following:

A. Grading.

1. Excavation for construction of a structure authorized by a valid building permit,

2. Excavations for trenches for utilities not within critical areas, shorelines or associated buffers,

3. Exploratory excavations performed under the direction of a registered design professional; provided, that any disturbance of the area shall be the minimum necessary to carry out the work or studies and the disturbed area shall be immediately restored, and

4. Excavation or fill less than four feet in vertical depth not involving more than 100 cubic yards of earth or other material on a single site and not within critical areas, shorelines or associated buffers;

B. Clearing and Tree Removal.

1. Clearing and removal of trees for the construction of a structure authorized by a valid building permit,

2. Removal of significant trees on lots that contain existing single-family detached dwellings, and that are not within critical areas, shorelines or associated buffers, native growth protection areas, wildlife protection zones, or that have not been previously designated for protection (e.g., as part of a plat) and based on the following table:

Lots up to 10,000 sq. ft.:

2 trees per year

Lots 10,001 sq. ft. to 20,000 sq. ft.:

4 trees per year

Lots 20,001 sq. ft. to 30,000 sq. ft.:

6 trees per year

Lots 30,000 sq. ft. and greater:

8 trees per year

3. Clearing by a public agency, franchise utility or public or private golf course for routine maintenance activities,

4. Minor stream restoration projects for fish habitat enhancement pursuant to a Washington State Joint Aquatic Resource Permit Application (JARPA),

5. Normal and routine maintenance of existing lawns and landscaping, and

6. Removal of noxious weeds. Removal of noxious weeds from critical areas, shorelines or associated buffers shall be subject to the requirements of KMC Title 16 and Chapter 18.55 KMC;

C. Engineering.

1. Less than 2,000 square feet of replaced impervious surface or new plus replaced impervious surface that is not within critical areas or associated buffers, and

2. Land alterations that are exempt from a grading permit and that do not alter the method by which the stormwater leaves the site. [Ord. 16-0428 § 11 (Att. G); Ord. 12-0345 § 3 (Exh. A).]

15.25.080 Emergency repairs or activities.

Where repairs or activities necessary to prevent or correct an immediate threat to public health, safety, property or welfare are performed in an emergency situation, the permit application and evidence of the threat shall be submitted within the next business working day to the City (for example, landslide stabilization, flood prevention and hazard tree removal). Mitigation may be required for such repairs or activities. [Ord. 12-0345 § 3 (Exh. A).]

15.25.090 Application requirements.

A. The department shall not commence review of any application for land alteration until the applicant has submitted the required materials and fees for a complete application.

B. The applicant shall file the following information with the department:

1. A complete permit application, with supporting affidavits, on forms provided by the department;

2. Information specified on the application checklist provided by the department for the requested decision(s); and

3. Any additional information or materials that the department specifies at the pre-application meeting.

C. A permit application is complete for purposes of this section upon satisfaction of the application requirements and upon the department’s determination that the application is sufficiently complete for continued processing, even though additional information may be required or project modifications may be undertaken subsequently. The determination of completeness shall not preclude the department from requesting additional information or studies either at the time of notice of completeness or subsequently if new or additional information is required or substantial changes in the proposed land application occur, as determined by the department.

D. The city manager may waive any specific submittal requirements that are determined to be unnecessary for review of an application.

E. The applicant shall attest by written oath to the accuracy of all information submitted with an application. [Ord. 12-0345 § 3 (Exh. A).]

15.25.100 Time limitation of application.

A. Applications for which no permit is issued within 18 months following the date of application shall expire by limitation and plans and other data submitted for review may thereafter be returned to the applicant or destroyed in accordance with State law by the city manager.

B. Applications may be canceled for inactivity, if an applicant fails to respond to the department’s written request for revisions, corrections, actions or additional information within 90 days of the date of request. The city manager may extend the response period beyond 90 days if within the original 90-day time period the applicant provides and subsequently adheres to an approved schedule with specific target dates for submitting the full revisions, corrections or other information needed by the department.

C. The city manager may extend the life of an application if any of the following conditions exist:

1. Compliance with the State Environmental Policy Act is in progress; or

2. Any other City review is in progress; provided, that the applicant has submitted a complete response to City requests or the city manager determines that unique or unusual circumstances exist that warrant additional time for such response, and the city manager determines that the review is proceeding in a timely manner toward final City decision; or

3. Litigation against the City or applicant is in progress, the outcome of which may affect the validity or the provisions of any permit issued pursuant to such application. [Ord. 12-0345 § 3 (Exh. A).]

15.25.110 Validity of permit.

The issuance or granting of a permit shall not be construed to be a permit for, or an approval of, any violation of any of the provisions of this chapter or of any other ordinance or law of the City. Permits presuming to give authority to violate or cancel the provisions of this chapter or other ordinance or law of the City shall not be valid. The issuance of a permit based on construction documents and other data shall not prevent the city manager from requiring the correction of errors in the construction documents and other data. [Ord. 12-0345 § 3 (Exh. A).]

15.25.120 Permit expiration.

A. Stand-alone land alteration permits shall expire two years from the date of issuance. Land alteration permits issued and associated with another land use permit or approval shall expire in conjunction with the land use permit or approval. The city manager may approve a request for an extended expiration date where a construction schedule is provided by the applicant and approved prior to permit issuance.

B. Stand-alone land alteration permits which have been expired for less than one year may be renewed for a period of one year from the expiration date for an additional fee, as long as no changes have been made to the originally approved plans. Land alteration permits associated with a land use permit or approval which has been expired for less than one year may be renewed for an additional fee as long as no changes have been made to the originally approved land alteration plans and the originally approved land use permit or approval is not expired. For permits that have been expired for longer than one year, a new permit must be obtained and full new fees paid. No permit shall be renewed more than once. [Ord. 12-0345 § 3 (Exh. A).]

15.25.130 Suspension or revocation.

Subject to applicable case authority, the city manager is authorized to suspend or revoke a permit issued under the provisions of this chapter wherever the permit is issued in error or on the basis of incorrect, inaccurate or incomplete information, or in violation of any ordinance or regulation or any of the provisions of this code. [Ord. 12-0345 § 3 (Exh. A).]

15.25.140 Liability insurance required – Exception.

The applicant shall procure and maintain, for the duration of the permit, insurance against claims for injuries to persons or damage to property which may arise from or in connection with the performance of the land alteration. The insurance shall include automobile liability and commercial general liability. The automobile liability insurance shall be a minimum combined single limit for bodily injury and property damage of $1,000,000 per accident, and the commercial general liability insurance shall be with limits no less than $1,000,000 each occurrence, and $2,000,000 general aggregate. The City shall be named as an insured under the commercial general liability insurance policy. The insurance shall be endorsed to state that coverage shall not be cancelled, except after 30 days’ prior written notice to the City. Prior to issuance of a land alteration permit for grading, the applicant shall provide to the department an original certificate evidencing the required insurance, on a form approved by the city manager, and a copy of the amendatory endorsement. The insurance requirements may be waived or modified by the city manager for projects which do not present a risk to surrounding properties. Liability insurance shall not be required of other City departments. [Ord. 12-0345 § 3 (Exh. A).]

15.25.150 Restrictions.

Land alterations for projects within critical areas per Chapter 18.55 KMC are restricted to the time period between May 1st and October 1st, with all grading activities stabilized by October 1st. No land alteration activities shall occur outside of this time period, except with written approval from the city manager. [Ord. 12-0345 § 3 (Exh. A).]

15.25.160 Standards.

A. Any activity that will clear, grade or otherwise disturb the site, whether requiring a land alteration permit or not, shall provide erosion and sediment control (ESC) that prevents, to the maximum extent possible, the transport of sediment from the site to drainage facilities, water resources and adjacent properties. Erosion and sediment control shall be applied as specified by the temporary ESC measures and performance criteria and implementation requirements of KMC Title 13.

B. Cuts and fills shall conform to the following provisions unless otherwise approved by the city manager:

1. Slope. No slope of cut and fill of surfaces shall be steeper than is safe for the intended use and shall not exceed two horizontal to one vertical, unless approved by the geotechnical engineer of record.

2. Erosion Control. All disturbed areas including faces of cuts and fill slopes shall be prepared and maintained to control erosion in compliance with subsection A of this section.

3. Preparation of Ground. The ground surface shall be prepared to receive fill by removing vegetation, topsoil, and other unsuitable materials.

4. Fill Material. Fill material shall not include organic, frozen or other deleterious materials, and shall be made with nonnoxious, nonflammable, noncombustible and nonputrescible solids. No rock or similar irreducible material greater than 18 inches in diameter shall be used.

5. Drainage. Provisions shall be made to:

a. Prevent any surface water or seepage from damaging the cut face of any excavations or the sloping face of a fill; and

b. Carry any surface waters that are or might be concentrated as a result of a fill or excavation to a natural watercourse or public storm drain system, or by other means approved by the department of public works.

6. Compaction of Permeable Surfaces. The compaction of new permeable surfaces should protect the soil moisture holding capacity. The duff layer or native topsoil shall be retained to the maximum extent practicable. Soil amendments shall be required to mitigate for lost moisture holding capacity where compaction or removal of some or all of the duff layer or underlying topsoil has occurred. The amendment must be such that the replaced topsoil is a minimum of eight inches thick, unless the applicant demonstrates that a different thickness will provide conditions equivalent to the soil moisture holding capacity native to the site.

7. Bench/Terrace. Benches, if required, at least 10 feet in width shall be back-sloped and shall be established at not more than 25 feet vertical intervals to control surface drainage and debris. Swales or ditches on benches shall have a maximum gradient of five percent.

8. Access Roads Maintenance. Access roads to grading sites shall be maintained and located to the satisfaction of the city manager to minimize problems of dust, mud and traffic circulation.

9. Access Roads – Gate. Access roads to grading sites shall be controlled by a gate when required by the city manager.

10. Warning Signs. Signs warning of hazardous conditions, if such exist, shall be established at locations as required by the city manager. All signage and traffic control shall be compliant with Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

11. Fencing. Fencing, where required by the city manager to protect life, limb and property, must be installed with lockable gates and must be closed and locked when work is not occurring at the site. The fence must be no less than five feet in height and cannot have a horizontal opening larger than two inches.

12. Setbacks. The tops and the toes of cut and fill slopes shall be set back from property boundaries as far as necessary to protect adjacent properties and to prevent damage from water runoff or erosion of the slopes.

The tops and the toes of cut and fill slopes shall be set back from structures as far as is necessary to protect foundation support and to prevent damage from water runoff or erosion of the slopes.

Slopes and setbacks shall be determined by the city manager.

13. Easements. The applicant shall provide to the department copies of recorded and executed easements for land alterations that are proposed on neighboring properties.

C. For land alteration permits issued under this chapter, the current vegetation standards contained in this section and in the following regulations shall apply:

1. Chapter 18.55 KMC, Critical Areas;

2. Property-specific development standards pursuant to Chapter 18.47 KMC;

3. Critical drainage area designations identified by adopted administrative rule;

4. Wildlife habitat corridors; and

5. Chapter 18.35 KMC, Development Standards – Landscaping.

D. Tree Removal. The following additional regulations shall apply to vacant property:

1. KMC 18.57.060, tree management and protection. [Ord. 16-0428 § 11 (Att. G); Ord. 12-0345 § 3 (Exh. A).]

15.25.170 Land restoration.

A. Finish grades shall encourage the uses permitted within the underlying zone classification.

B. Grading or backfilling shall not include organic, frozen or other deleterious materials, and shall be made with nonnoxious, nonflammable, noncombustible and nonputrescible solids. No rock or similar irreducible material greater than 18 inches shall be used.

C. Such graded or backfilled areas, except for roads, shall be sodded or surfaced with soil of a quality at least equal to the topsoil of the immediately surrounding land areas, and to a depth of at least four inches or a depth of that of the topsoil of immediately surrounding land areas if less than four inches.

D. Such topsoil as required by subsection C of this section shall be planted with trees, shrubs, legumes or grasses, and these plants shall be so selected as to be indigenous to the surrounding area, or as approved through a mitigation plan.

E. Graded or backfilled areas shall be reclaimed in a manner which will not allow water to collect and permit stagnant water to remain, unless otherwise approved through a mitigation plan. Suitable drainage systems approved by the city manager shall be constructed or installed if natural drainage is not possible.

F. Waste or soil piles shall be leveled and the area treated as to sodding or surfacing and planting as required in subsections D and E of this section. [Ord. 12-0345 § 3 (Exh. A).]

15.25.180 Shorelines.

A. No permit required by this chapter shall be issued for land alteration upon the shorelines until approved by the appropriate federal, State and local authority (see KMC Title 16).

B. For land alteration which requires a shoreline management substantial development permit, the conditions of the shoreline management substantial development permit shall be incorporated into the conditions of any permit issued pursuant to this chapter and shall be subject to the inspection and enforcement procedures authorized by this chapter. [Ord. 12-0345 § 3 (Exh. A).]

15.25.190 Enforcement.

The city manager is authorized to enforce the provisions of this chapter, the ordinances and resolutions codified in it, and any rules and regulations promulgated thereunder pursuant to the enforcement and penalty provisions of Chapter 1.20 KMC, Code Enforcement.

If land alterations inconsistent with the purposes and requirements of this chapter have occurred on a site, the City shall not accept or grant any development permits or approvals for the site unless the applicant adequately restores the site. The city manager shall require appropriate restoration of the site under a City approved restoration plan which shall include a time schedule for compliance if significant resource damage has or may occur. If restoration has not been completed within the time established by the department, the city manager shall order restoration using funds from the appropriate contingency accounts and seek restitution from the property owner through available legal methods. [Ord. 12-0345 § 3 (Exh. A).]

15.25.200 Financial guarantees authorized.

The department is authorized to require all applicants who are issued permits or approvals under the provisions of this chapter to post performance financial guarantees consistent with the provisions of KMC Title 21 in an amount up to 125 percent of the estimated cost of completing or restoring the work in accordance with the approved plans, specifications, permit or approval requirements, and applicable regulations. [Ord. 12-0345 § 3 (Exh. A).]