Chapter 20.82
PUBLIC UTILITIES

Sections:

20.82.010    Intent.

20.82.020    Permitted uses.

20.82.030    Conditional uses.

20.82.031    Special conditions applicable on utilities meeting the definition of WCC 20.82.030(1) or (2).

20.82.040    Other applicable regulations.

20.82.010 Intent.

The provisions of this chapter regulate the installation, maintenance and operation of public utility lines, sanitary sewer, pipelines for oil and gas, railroads (but not included switching yards or round houses), or maintenance facilities. The citizen initiative, enacted through Ordinance 90-124, regarding power line placement, Comprehensive Plan land use designations, Comprehensive Plan policy directives and the specific provisions of this chapter, shall be the basis for decisions regarding utility development. This chapter applies to all zoning districts unless stated otherwise. The uses listed in this chapter are subject to the development standards of the underlying zoning district unless stated otherwise in this chapter. (Ord. 2016-011 § 1 (Exh. K), 2016; Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011; Ord. 2004-041 § 1, 2004; Ord. 2004-014 § 2, 2004; Ord. 96-056 Att. A § T1, 1996; Ord. 87-12, 1987; Ord. 87-11, 1987).

20.82.020 Permitted uses.

.021 Except as provided in WCC 20.82.030, the installation and maintenance, including but not limited to replacement, of all utility lines including pipes, cables, electrical and telephone poles, electrical power line towers and wires, military and federal, state and local government communications facilities used for emergency preparedness and public safety purposes; and associated structures such as pump stations and equipment vaults; provided, that above-ground structures shall conform to the size requirements of WCC 20.82.022. The height of the electrical telephone poles, power line towers and wires, and government emergency preparedness communications facilities may exceed the height limit of the underlying zone; provided, that the height is the minimum necessary to accomplish the facilities’ intended purpose. The applicant shall provide technical documentation that the height proposed is the minimum necessary.

.022 Buildings and structures 200 square feet in floor area or smaller including pump houses, storage buildings, equipment buildings, and similar structures necessary for the operation of the utility.

.023 Water storage tanks owned and operated by a public utility for the sole purpose of providing required fire flow; provided, that the volumes do not exceed 50,000 gallons and height is not in excess of 12 feet above the ground level measured within 20 feet in all directions of the tank. A privately owned water storage tank constructed to provide fire flow for a singular use or property and maintained by the property owner(s) is considered an accessory use to the primary permitted or conditionally permitted use that is to be protected by fire flow supplied from the tank and not subject to regulation as a public utility; provided, the height does not exceed the maximum height allowed in the underlying zone. (Ord. 2017-030 § 1 (Exh. R), 2017; Ord. 2016-011 § 1 (Exh. C), 2016; Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 99-067, 1999; Ord. 96-056 Att. A § T1, 1996).

20.82.030 Conditional uses.

The following uses shall require a conditional use permit or major project permit and shall be subject to a threshold determination in accordance with the Whatcom County SEPA Ordinance:

(1) Transmission pipelines, or pipelines termed a distribution pipeline but having characteristics that fit the definition of a transmission pipeline, carrying petroleum and petroleum products other than natural gas when such pipelines will be located outside the zoning district classified as Heavy Impact Industrial.

(2) Regional transmission pipelines for the bulk conveyance of natural gas, or pipelines termed a distribution pipeline but having characteristics that fit the definition of a transmission pipeline. Except for the above conditions, natural gas pipelines which are owned and operated by a gas utility company regulated by the State Utilities and Transportation Commission and which are distribution lines owned by the utility that provide natural gas service directly to county citizens and businesses shall not be considered regional transmission lines.

(3) New water lines with a nominal pipe size greater than eight inches except for the following, which are permitted outright:

(a) New water lines located and installed by a public utility or municipality within urban growth areas or limited areas of more intensive rural development (LAMIRDs); or

(b) New water lines outside urban growth areas or limited areas of more intensive rural development (LAMIRDs) in conformance with a state approved water comprehensive plan pursuant to RCW 43.20.260 and consistent with the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan, so long as they are water transmission lines per WCC 20.97.452, or provide service at an intensity historically and typically found in rural areas, per RCW 36.70A.030(17), including but not limited to agricultural uses. Water service for uses or densities not permitted in rural or resource areas shall not be extended or expanded outside urban growth areas or limited areas of more intensive rural development (LAMIRDs), except where necessary to protect basic public health and safety and the environment and when such services are financially supportable at rural densities and do not permit urban development, per RCW 36.70A.110(4).

(4) New sewer lines with an inside diameter of six inches or greater and length of 150 feet or greater, except for new sewer lines located and installed within urban growth areas or limited areas of more intensive rural development (LAMIRDs), and in conformance with a state approved sewer and/or water comprehensive plan and consistent with the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan, which shall be permitted outright. Sewer lines shall not be extended to serve lots outside urban growth areas unless such extensions are shown to be necessary to protect basic public health and safety and the environment, and when such services are financially supportable at rural densities and do not permit urban development. Sewer lines may pass through areas outside urban growth areas provided they do not provide sewer service to any lot in the nonurban areas.

(5) Electronic communications structures and telecommunication towers including associated maintenance and operations structures, provided this section shall not apply to any structures associated with wireless communications facilities.

(6) Water storage reservoirs with volumes exceeding 50,000 gallons, those with height in excess of 12 feet above the ground level measured within 20 feet in all directions of the tank. The following height standards shall apply:

(a) The height limit on the water storage reservoir shall be the minimum necessary to accomplish its intended purpose. The applicant shall provide technical documentation that the height proposed is the minimum necessary.

(b) The height of the water storage reservoir may exceed the height limit of the underlying zone; provided, that all other criteria in WCC 20.84.220 are satisfied.

(7) Utility structures located above ground such as pump stations, equipment buildings and similar structures greater than 200 square feet in area.

(8) Sewer and water treatment plants, except that sewer treatment plants are prohibited in the Airports Operations Zone.

(9) Electrical substations and new electrical power lines operating at voltages greater than 55 kV (55,000 volts); provided, applications for such substations and power lines shall be processed as a major development permit (pursuant to Chapter 20.88 WCC); provided, that no further major development permit shall be granted for such lines which:

(a) Operate at greater than 115 kV (115,000 volts) except on land where such permits have already been granted or in those districts classified as industrial; or

(b) Operate at 115 kV (115,000 volts) and carry greater than 160 mw (160 megawatts) average loading, except on land where such permits have already been granted or in those districts classified as industrial. For purposes of this section, “average loading” means the average power in megawatts carried by a power line over any 12-month period; provided, that loading at full line carrying capacity may not extend beyond any 90-day period;

(c) Are dedicated to provision of transmission service to (from) an electrical generating plant having a generating capacity greater than 160 mw (160 megawatts), except on lands where such permits have already been granted or in those districts classified as industrial.

(10) Electrical substations and new electrical power lines with height in excess of the zoning district’s height limitations. The following height standards shall apply:

(a) The height limit on the substation or power line shall be the minimum necessary to accomplish its intended purpose. The applicant shall provide technical documentation that the height proposed is the minimum necessary.

(b) The height of the substation or power line may exceed the height limit of the underlying zone; provided, that all other criteria in WCC 20.84.220 are satisfied. (Ord. 2016-035 § 1 (Exh. A), 2016; Ord. 2016-011 § 1 (Exh. C), 2016; Ord. 2013-028 § 2 Exh. B, 2013; Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011; Ord. 2004-041 § 1, 2004; Ord. 2004-014 § 2, 2004; Ord. 2002-017 § 1, 2002; Ord. 2000-006 § 7, 2000; Ord. 99-067, 1999; Ord. 96-056 Att. A § T1, 1996; Ord. 90-124, 1990; Ord. 88-29, 1988; Ord. 87-12, 1987; Ord. 87-11, 1987).

20.82.031 Special conditions applicable on utilities meeting the definition of WCC 20.82.030(1) or (2).

(1) With the proposal of new pipelines, pipeline proponents shall conduct “open house” and “townhall” style public meetings as a requirement of the county land use development permit process and shall provide funds that are sufficient for a third party presentation about right-of-way issues and eminent domain. These presentations will be held when county planning and development deems appropriate, selected by the county, but as early in the permitting process as practical. The county will select a third party to give such presentation, and the third party shall be independent from the pipeline proponent.

(2) Pipeline operators are required to provide accurate “as-built” pipeline maps for approval of any county development permit. Information shall include, but is not limited to, scaled plan maps accurate to the parcel level, pipe size, allowable pressure, fuel type, and average or approximate right-of-way widths.

(3) Required pipeline proponents to notify cities if the proposal is within their urban growth area, all utility providers, and special purpose districts where the siting of new pipelines crosses those service areas. (Ord. 2002-017 § 1, 2002).

20.82.040 Other applicable regulations.

(1) Solid waste facilities and large scale electrical generating plants are not conditional uses under the name “public utilities” but are restricted to where they have been named as uses.

(2) The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to wireless communications services and facilities which are regulated under Chapter 20.13 WCC. (Ord. 2000-006 § 8, 2000; Ord. 99-067, 1999).