Chapter 20.17


20.17.010    Authority and purpose.

20.17.020    Scope.

20.17.030    Determination of applicability.

20.17.040    Procedure.

20.17.050    Essential public facility review process.

20.17.060    Criteria.

20.17.070    Decision.

20.17.010 Authority and purpose.

A. Authority. Each county and city that is planning under the Growth Management Act (RCW 36.70A.040) must include a process for identifying and siting essential public facilities. Essential public facilities include those facilities that are typically difficult to site, such as airports, state education facilities and state or regional transportation facilities as defined in RCW 47.06.140, state and local correctional facilities, solid waste handling facilities, and in-patient facilities including substance abuse facilities, mental health facilities, group homes, and secure community transition facilities as defined in RCW 71.09.020.

B. Purpose. The purpose of this section is to provide a process to site essential public facilities that may not be specifically addressed as permitted or conditional uses. Essential public facilities are defined in Chapter 20.08 BMC. [Ord. 2006-07-068].

20.17.020 Scope.

This chapter establishes the process and criteria that the city will use in making a decision upon an application for an essential public facility.

A. The city may establish a list of uses that qualify as essential public facilities. This list shall be established through a Type VI process. A use or facility may be added to Bellingham’s adopted list of essential public facilities based on one of the following criteria:

1. The use meets the definition of an essential public facility; or

2. The use is identified on the list of state essential public facilities for Whatcom County maintained by the State of Washington Office of Financial Management. [Ord. 2006-07-068].

20.17.030 Determination of applicability.

A. If the proposed facility is not a permitted or conditional use in the district in which it is proposed, but has been determined to be eligible as an EPF as per subsection (B) or (C) of this section, then the proposed facility shall be reviewed following the procedures of BMC 20.17.040. If the facility would require a conditional use permit, variance, or other development permit, those approvals shall be decided through the processes appropriate for those actions.

B. All correctional facilities, except those under BMC 20.08.020, “Service care,” and secure community transition facilities shall use the procedure described in BMC 20.17.040.

C. An agency or organization may request in writing that a proposed facility be reviewed through the essential public facilities siting process contained in this chapter if it is not a permitted or conditional use under Bellingham land use development ordinance (BMC Title 20). This request shall be in the form of a letter to the director of planning and community development, addressing the criteria in subsection (C)(1) of this section.

1. The director of planning and community development shall review this request and grant it if the criteria in subsections (C)(1)(a) and (b) of this section are met.

a. The facility meets one of the following:

i. Facilities, conveyances, or sites used to provide services to the public that are on the list of essential public facilities adopted by the Bellingham city council;

ii. Facilities and services that are delivered by government agencies, private or nonprofit organizations under contract to or with substantial funding from government agencies, or private firms or organizations subject to public service obligations; and

iii. Facilities, conveyances or sites that are necessary to adequately provide a public service.

b. The facility is a type difficult to site because of one or more of the following:

i. The facility needs a type of site of which there are few sites;

ii. The facility can locate only near another public facility;

iii. The facility has or is generally perceived by the public to have significant adverse impacts that make it difficult to site; or

iv. There is need for the facility and Bellingham is in the facility service area. [Ord. 2006-07-068].

20.17.040 Procedure.

Applications that seek approval for an essential public facility under this chapter, as defined in BMC 20.08.020, shall follow the procedures established in BMC 21.10.040(G) for a Type V-A permit process for institutional master plan approval under Chapter 20.40 BMC. The master plan may include a specific development proposal or may require subsequent development approval through BMC 20.40.060. [Ord. 2006-07-068].

20.17.050 Essential public facility review process.

A. Service Area. The director of planning and community development shall determine if the facility serves a regional, countywide, statewide or national need. If it does, then the director may condition the review with a requirement that the review process include one or more sites in parts of the service area outside of Bellingham.

B. Multi-Jurisdictional Review. Where more than one local government is involved in the review process, Bellingham staff shall participate in a multi-jurisdictional review process and use the data, analysis and environmental documents prepared in that process in the city’s review if Bellingham determines those documents are adequate.

C. Timeline for Review. BMC 21.10.080(A) requires that, under normal circumstances, a decision on a Type V-A application shall be made within 180 days. An exception is provided in BMC 21.10.080(A)(4) for timing of decisions on applications for a project requiring an approval for siting of an essential public facility as provided in RCW 36.70A.200. [Ord. 2006-07-068].

20.17.060 Criteria.

The city may approve, or approve with modifications, an application for a proposed essential public facility based on subsections (A) through (I) of this section.

A. Whether there is a public need for the facility;

B. The impact of the facility on the surrounding uses and environment, the city, and the region.

C. Whether the design of the facility or the operation of the facility can be conditioned, or the impacts otherwise mitigated, to make the facility compatible with the affected area and the environment.

D. Whether a package of incentives can be developed that would make siting the facility within the community more acceptable.

E. Whether the factors that make the facility difficult to site can be modified to increase the range of available sites or to minimize impacts on affected areas and the environment.

F. Whether the proposed essential public facility is consistent with the Bellingham comprehensive plan.

G. If a variance is requested, the proposal shall also comply with the variance criteria.

H. Essential public facilities shall comply with any applicable state siting and permitting requirements (e.g., hazardous waste facilities).

I. A financial analysis of the proposed facility’s impact on the city of Bellingham’s budget shall be completed by the organization proposing the essential public facility. If the study shows that locating a facility in a community would result in a disproportionate financial burden on the city, an agreement to mitigate the adverse financial impact shall be required. [Ord. 2006-07-068].

20.17.070 Decision.

Upon approval of an institutional master plan, the official zoning map and classification for the property shall be changed to institutional and shall indicate the ordinance number approving the master plan. All development shall be consistent with the approved master plan. [Ord. 2006-07-068].