Chapter 20.18


20.18.010    General provisions.

20.18.020    Variance criteria.

20.18.030    Variance procedure.

20.18.010 General provisions.

A. A variance is a modification of the terms of this title. The hearing examiner may grant a variance only if the applicant proves to the hearing examiner’s satisfaction that because of the unusual shape, exceptional topographic conditions, or other extraordinary situation or condition in connection with a specific piece of property the literal enforcement of this title would involve practical difficulties and cause undue hardship unnecessary to carry out the spirit and intent of this title.

B. An application for a variance may be submitted for modification of any term or requirement of this title except for the following:

1. To allow a use not generally permitted (either as a principal or conditional use) in the general use type in which the subject property is located; or

2. To authorize a permitted use upon less site area than what is specified as the minimum site area.

3. Sign code modifications, except that holders of billboard relocation permits may apply for variances to performance standards for height, setback, and spacing (as below). Variances to the billboard overlay zone designations, BMC 20.08.020, Figure 15, shall not be granted. No variances to billboard face size, number of billboard faces, or number of billboard structures shall be granted. Variances from minimum spacing requirements shall not exceed 10 percent of the minimum spacing requirement.

4. Definitions of this code.

C. User Information. If modification of subsection(s) (B)(1) and/or (2) of this section is desirable, the proper procedure to follow would be text amendment for subsection (B)(1) of this section or change of land use classification for subsection (B)(2) of this section. Variance from sign regulations must follow procedures outlined in the Bellingham sign code. [Ord. 2002-10-069 § 48; Ord. 10674 § 19, 1995; Ord. 9024, 1982].

20.18.020 Variance criteria.

Variances can be granted by the hearing examiner if the applicant proves to the hearing examiner that the following criteria are satisfied:

A. Because of special circumstances, not the result of the owner’s action, applicable to the subject property (including size, shape, topography, location, or surroundings), the strict application of the provisions of this title is found to deprive the property of rights and privileges enjoyed by other property in the area and under the identical land use classification; and

B. The granting of the 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.

C. The subject property cannot be reasonably used under the regulations as written. [Ord. 2002-10-069 § 48; Ord. 9024, 1982].

20.18.030 Variance procedure.

A variance under the provisions of this title shall follow the procedures in Chapter 21.10 BMC. [Ord. 2004-09-065; Ord. 10719 § 5, 1996; Ord. 10169 § 8, 1991; Ord. 9630 § 5, 1986; Ord. 9582 § 4, 1986; Ord. 9352 § 5, 1984; Ord. 9024, 1982].