Chapter 21.02


21.02.010    Variances.

21.02.020    Notification of cities.

21.02.030    Appeals.

21.02.040    Amendments – Advance notice.

21.02.010 Variances.

The hearing examiner, or in the case of short subdivisions, the technical review committee, shall have authority to grant a variance from the provisions of this title when they have found the conditions set forth below to exist. In such cases, a variance may be granted which is in harmony with the general purpose and intent of this title so that the intent of this title shall be observed, and public health, safety and welfare secured.

A variance may be granted only when all of the following circumstances listed in either subsection (1) or (2) of this section are found to apply. Applicants shall specify which criteria set they are proposing to qualify for a variance under and shall provide information to the county demonstrating compliance with that criteria set before a variance may be granted.

(1) Variance to Alleviate Unnecessary Hardship.

(a) Any variance granted shall not constitute a grant of special privilege, be based upon reasons of hardship caused by previous actions of the property owner, nor be granted for financial reasons alone.

(b) The strict application of these regulations would cause a hardship because of special circumstances applicable to the subject property, including size, shape, topography, environmental constraints or location. Aesthetic considerations or design preferences without reference to restrictions based upon the physical characteristics of the property do not constitute sufficient hardship under this section.

(c) The granting of the variance will not be detrimental to the public health, safety, or welfare or injurious to other property.

(2) Variance to Achieve Better Design.

(a) Any variance granted shall not constitute a grant of special privilege or be based upon reasons of hardship caused by previous actions of the property owner, nor be granted for financial reasons alone.

(b) The granting of the variance results in better lot design than would be permitted under the standard regulations. “Better lot design” is defined as meaning such items as more practical site design because of topography, wetland or other environmental constraints, or the lot design will result in lots nearer to conformance to required development standards or applicable Comprehensive Plan goals and policies, including those relating to urban growth areas.

(c) The granting of any variance will not be unduly detrimental to the public welfare nor injurious to the property or improvements in the vicinity and subarea in which the subject property is located.

(d) In granting variances and modifications, the hearing examiner or technical review committee, as appropriate, may require such conditions as will in its judgement secure substantially the objectives of the requirements so varied.

(3) A decision on a variance application by the technical review committee or by the hearing examiner shall be accompanied by specific written findings addressing each of the applicable criteria. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1; Ord. 2000-056 § 1).

21.02.020 Notification of cities.

Notice of a hearing or technical review committee meeting for variances shall be provided to the appropriate city, if the land division is located within that city’s urban growth area. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1; Ord. 2000-056 § 1).

21.02.030 Appeals.

(1) Any party of record may appeal any order, final permit decision, final administrative determination including pre-approval or preliminary approval in the administration or enforcement of this title. The hearing examiner shall have the authority to hear and decide appeals pursuant to WCC 22.05.160.

(2) Appeals related to the Whatcom County Development Standards shall be made to the technical advisory committee as required by WCC 12.08.035(I). (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1; Ord. 2000-056 § 1).

21.02.040 Amendments – Advance notice.

Notice of the time, place and purpose of any public hearing regarding the amendment, adoption or repeal of an ordinance adopted pursuant to Chapter 58.17 RCW shall be given in accordance with the provisions of WCC Title 22. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1; Ord. 2000-056 § 1).