Chapter 17.84


17.84.010    Purpose.

17.84.020    Definitions.

17.84.030    Clearing, grading and fill permit requirements.

17.84.040    Exemptions from permit.

17.84.050    Mandatory standards.

17.84.060    Permit application.

17.84.070    Permit issuance.

17.84.080    Expiration of permits and applications.

17.84.090    Conditions of approval/project denial.

17.84.100    Security.

17.84.110    Temporary restrictions.

17.84.120    Maintenance.

17.84.130    Project inspections.

17.84.140    Violations.

17.84.150    Notice of civil infraction and required corrective action.

17.84.010 Purpose.

This chapter has been created for the following purposes:

A. To protect and preserve the public interest by establishing standards for regulating land alterations;

B. To control land-disturbing activities to minimize erosion, sedimentation, water pollution, and landslides;

C. To protect environmentally sensitive areas from degradation and damage;

D. To promote building and site planning practices that are consistent with the city’s natural topography as well as the city’s comprehensive plan and the Washington State Environmental Policy Act. (Ord. 2554 § 3, 2003)

17.84.020 Definitions.

A. “Best management practices (BMPs)” means physical, structural, and/or managerial practices that, when used singly or in combination, prevent or reduce pollution of water.

B. “Buffer zone” means a parcel or strip of land that is required to remain permanently in a natural condition.

C. “Canopy” means the circle that can be drawn around a tree surrounding its outermost branches.

D. “Public works director” means the public works director or his/her designee.

E. “Clearing, grading and fill permit” means the signed and approved written permission of the community development services department to the permittee to proceed with the act of clearing, grading and filling within the provisions of this chapter.

F. “Clearing” means the removal of timber, brush, grass, ground cover, or other vegetative matter from a site which exposes soil or results in the loss of forested areas. Clearing does not include selective removal of individual trees; provided, that no more than one tree is removed for every three trees remaining.

G. “Critical area” means the following areas and their adjacent buffers as required in this chapter shall be regarded as critical areas: geologically hazardous areas, frequently flooded areas, aquifer recharge areas, fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas, and natural resource lands (see Chapter 17.82 BMC for definitions).

H. “Drip line boundary” means the circle that can be drawn on the ground below a tree directly under its outermost branch tips.

I. “Dry season” means, generally, the months of May through October.

J. “Erosion” means the wearing away of the land or ground surface by the action of wind, water, ice, chemicals, gravity, or any of these combined.

K. “Filling” means the act of placing fill material on any soil surface, natural vegetative covering, or other fill material.

L. “Grading” means any excavating or filling or combination thereof, including the addition of asphalt, concrete or other similar impervious paving products.

M. “Major clearing permit” means a permit allowing the clearing of more than one acre of property.

N. “Major grading/fill permit” means a permit allowing the removal, placement or disturbance of a combined total of 500 or more cubic yards of material on one site.

O. “Minor clearing permit” means a permit allowing the clearing of more than 8,000 square feet of property, but less than one acre.

P. “Minor grading/fill permit” means a permit allowing the removal, placement or disturbance of a combined total of 100 to less than 500 cubic yards of material on one site.

Q. “Permittee” means the person, agent or entity to whom the clearing, grading and fill permit is issued.

R. “Protected trees” means trees that have been noted to remain as part of the finished landscape.

S. “Rainy season” means, generally, the months of November through April.

T. “Sedimentation” means the process of deposition of soil and organic particles displaced, transported, and deposited by erosive processes.

U. “Significant tree” means a healthy tree, evergreen or deciduous, six inches in diameter or greater, measured four feet above existing grade.

V. “Site” means a lot or group of contiguous lots associated with a certain application, building or buildings, or other development.

W. “Soil” means unaggregated or uncemented deposits of mineral and/or organic particles or fragments derived from the breakdown of massive rocks or decay of living matter.

X. “Stand” means a homogeneous grouping of tree species or a group of trees that contain a large proportion of the same species.

Y. “Wetland” means a wetland as defined and regulated in Chapter 17.82 BMC. (Ord. 2811 § 2 (Exh. A), 2012; Ord. 2728 § 2 (Exh. A), 2009; Ord. 2554 § 3, 2003)

17.84.030 Clearing, grading and fill permit requirements.

A clearing, grading and fill permit is required for any project involving any of the following:

A. Any clearing, filling, or excavation in a wetland, critical area or critical area buffer.

B. Unless specifically exempted at BMC 17.84.040, fill and/or excavation totaling over 100 cubic yards. Quantities of fill and excavation are separately calculated and then added together, even if excavated material is used as fill on the same site.

C. An excavation which is more than five feet in depth, or which creates a cut slope greater than five feet in height and steeper than one and one-half units horizontal in one unit vertical (1.5:1).

D. Over 8,000 square feet of clearing or grading, as measured at the ground level.

E. Any regrading or paving of an area used for storm water detention or as an existing drainage course. (Ord. 2811 § 2 (Exh. A), 2012; Ord. 2554 § 3, 2003)

17.84.040 Exemptions from permit.

A. The following activities are exempt from the requirements for a clearing, grading and fill permit:

1. Structural fill, including foundation and retaining wall preparation for structures requiring a building permit, where such work is specifically addressed within the permit.

2. Land clearing, grading, filling, sandbagging, diking, ditching, or similar work during or after periods of extreme weather or other emergency conditions which have created situations such as flooding or high fire danger that present an immediate danger to life or property.

3. Excavation and related filling for graves.

4. Clearing of an area measuring less than 8,000 square feet.

5. Mining, quarrying, excavating, processing, stockpiling of rock, sand, gravel, aggregate or clay where regulated by the state; and provided further, that there is no impact on ground water or surface water quality, quantity or routing.

6. Exploratory excavations under the direction of soil engineers or engineering geologists.

B. An exemption from a clearing, grading and fill permit does not exempt the person doing the work from meeting the requirement that sediment and other pollutants be prevented from entering the ground water system, drainage systems and streams, nor does it exempt the applicant from the permit requirements imposed by the Department of Natural Resources. (Ord. 2704 § 2, 2008; Ord. 2554 § 3, 2003)

17.84.050 Mandatory standards.

A. Unless otherwise stipulated, all land disturbance shall be undertaken in a manner that is consistent with the best management practices (BMPs) contained in the current edition of the Washington State Department of Ecology, Stormwater Management Manual for Western Washington.

B. Clearing.

1. Where possible, maintain natural vegetation for erosion and sedimentation control and water quality and quantity control.

a. Retain canopy cover; at project completion, the site shall have a vegetation canopy, dominated by trees, which meets the following minimum requirements:

i. For sites with an existing canopy cover of 20 percent or greater of the site area, canopy cover shall be a minimum of 20 percent of the site area;

ii. For sites with an existing canopy cover of less than 20 percent of the site area, the canopy cover shall be the same as the existing canopy cover;

iii. To meet the requirements for canopy cover, or to otherwise mitigate the effects of vegetation removal, canopy cover may consist of any combination of existing trees and replacement trees.

b. In meeting the minimum requirements for canopy coverage, priority shall be given to retention of existing stands of significant evergreen trees, trees in landscape buffer areas, trees along the shoreline, and healthy mature trees.

c. To maximize protection of existing trees, the clearing and grading proposal shall include sufficient protection measures to ensure viability of protected trees and other vegetation identified for retention and to protect any critical area and its buffer. Damaged or dead trees will be replaced.

2. Soil Stabilization. All exposed and unworked soils shall be stabilized using a suitable best management practice contained in the current edition of the Washington State Department of Ecology Stormwater Management Manual for Western Washington.

C. Grading.

1. Grading shall not contribute to or create landslides, accelerated soil creep, or settlement of soils.

2. Natural land and water features, vegetation, drainage and other natural features of the site shall be reasonably preserved.

3. Grading shall not create or contribute to flooding, erosion, increased turbidity, or siltation of a watercourse or water body.

4. Protect adjacent property, including, but not limited to, public rights-of-way and drainage systems from damage.

D. Erosion and Sediment Control.

1. Construction access shall be limited to one route, if practicable, and a construction access pad shall be used to minimize deposit of sediments on adjacent roadways. Sediment deposited on the paved right-of-way shall be removed in a manner that prevents it from entering the drainage, creating muddy streets or becoming a public hazard or nuisance.

2. Where potential impacts to soil stability, erosion or environmental damage have been identified, exposed and unworked soils shall be stabilized using BMPs as indicated in subsection (A) of this section.

3. Adjacent and downstream properties, storm drain inlets, and the downstream drainage shall be protected from sediment deposition using BMPs as indicated in subsection A of this section. If protection is inadequate and deposition occurs on adjoining property, public right-of-way or the drainage system, the permittee shall immediately remove the deposited sediment and restore the affected area to original conditions.

4. Water pumping devices shall be discharged where sediment and/or other pollutants will not enter the drainage system. Sediment ponds or traps shall be used for this purpose.

5. Downstream properties and waterways shall be protected from erosion and sedimentation during construction due to temporary increases in the volume, velocity, and peak flow rate of overland flow and runoff from the site.

6. The permittee must install temporary erosion and sedimentation control devices consistent with the BMP specifications as indicated in subsection (A) of this section prior to all other clearing, grading, filling or construction projects.

7. The permittee must remove all temporary erosion and sediment control devices within 30 days after final site stabilization or after the devices are no longer needed, on approval of the public works director. Before removing such devices, the permittee must remove trapped sediment or stabilize it on-site. Any soils disturbed during sediment removal must be permanently stabilized.

8. The permittee must complete the required permanent erosion control within seven days of completed grading unless the weather is unsuitable for transplanting. In that case, the permittee must maintain temporary erosion control until permanent restoration can be completed. The period between work completion and final planting shall not exceed one year without written authorization from the public works director.

E. Cutting and Filling Slopes. (See Chapter 17.82 BMC for critical areas.) The following are the minimum standards for cutting and filling slopes. These provisions may be waived by the public works director for minor grading permits:

1. Minimize clearing and grading on slopes 15 percent or greater, except where approved retaining walls are to be installed.

2. Filling should only occur where the ground surface has been prepared by removal of vegetation and other unsuitable materials or preparation of steps where natural slopes are steeper than five horizontal to one vertical (5:1). Fill slopes should not be constructed on natural slopes greater than two horizontal to one vertical (2:1).

3. Limit the maximum gradient of artificial slopes to no steeper than two horizontal to one vertical (2:1) unless a geotechnical engineering report and slope stability analysis is provided and shows acceptable safety factors.

4. Clearing, excavation, stockpiling or filling on any unstable or potentially unstable areas unless it is demonstrated to the public works director that the activity would not increase the risk of injury to persons or damage to adjacent property or natural resources.

5. Provide evacuation of any ground water, subsurface, or surface water drainage encountered on a cut slope and discharge it at a location approved by the public works director. (Ord. 2554 § 3, 2003)

17.84.060 Permit application.

An application for a clearing, grading and fill permit identifying the property and owner shall be submitted on a form provided by the city.

A. Application Requirements for All Major and Minor Permits. All applications for major (more than an acre) or minor (8,000 square feet to one acre) clearing, or for major (500 cubic yards plus) or minor (100 to 500 cubic yards) grading and/or fill shall be accompanied by three sets of plans and specifications, including calculations. For grading and/or fill in steeply sloped areas, on unstable soils or in other critical areas, the public works director may require that the plans and specifications be prepared by a geologist or engineer who shall have his/her signature and stamp affixed to each set. The plans shall include the following information:

1. An accurate plan of the entire site as it exists at the time of the application, which includes:

a. Delineation of all critical areas and wetlands with any required buffer located in or adjacent to the site as required by the critical areas ordinance;

b. All property lines;

c. Contours over the entire site at five-foot intervals. For sites with minimal slopes where five-foot contours would not be useful, contours shall be shown at two-foot intervals;

d. The location of all existing drainage facilities, natural and manmade, as well as the location of all springs, wells and stream channels;

e. The location of all structures and utilities;

f. Date of plan preparation, north arrow, and adequate scale.

B. Additional Application Requirements for Major Permits Only. For major clearing, grading and fill permits, the following additional items shall be included in the application:

1. Additional site plan items:

a. The date, basis and datum of the contours;

b. A description of existing vegetation on the site designated by its common names, the amount of bare ground, and the amount of impervious material. A survey of significant trees may be required;

c. Location and estimated capacity of any areas which impound surface water;

d. Identification of, and mitigation measures for, on-site areas which are subject to severe erosion, and off-site areas which are especially vulnerable to damage from erosion and/or sedimentation.

2. The proposed work plan, which details the following:

a. Sequence for clearing, grading, filling, drainage alteration, and other land-disturbing activities;

b. On-site soil or earth material storage locations and sources of import materials, and location of the site where spoils will be disposed;

c. Location of and schedule for installation and removal of all interim and permanent erosion and sediment control measures, including vegetative measures.

3. An accurate finished grading plan of the entire site as it would appear on completion of work covered by the permit, showing the following:

a. The finished contours achieved by grading at five-foot intervals. For sites with minimal slopes where five-foot contours would not be useful, contours shall be shown at two-foot intervals;

b. The boundaries of all areas to remain undisturbed;

c. Boundaries of all areas where surface water runoff will be retained, detained, or infiltrated;

d. The method for discharging surface water off-site, including provisions required to control the velocity and direction of discharge to protect downstream riparian corridors and properties;

e. Location and dimensions of buffer zones and other areas to be maintained or established;

f. The location of building setback lines, and approximate limits of cuts and fills, including, but not limited to, foundations, retaining walls, and driveways;

g. The location and description of proposed permanent erosion and sedimentation control devices or structures and entity responsible for maintenance.

4. The public works director may require additional information including but not limited to the following:

a. Hydrologic and hydraulic computations of expected storm runoff entering and leaving the site for pre- and post-development conditions;

b. Engineering, geological and soils reports as needed for hydrology, hydraulics, and erosion control design;

c. Erosion and sediment control plan and supporting calculations;

d. A copy of the hydraulic permit application issued by the Washington State Department of Fisheries, if one is required. (Ord. 2554 § 3, 2003)

17.84.070 Permit issuance.

A. Issuance in Conjunction with Other Permits. Unless the proposed work is otherwise exempt from permit requirements, a clearing, grading and fill permit shall be issued in conjunction with the following permits or approvals:

1. A valid building permit application. The clearing, grading and fill permit shall not be issued until land use approval is received;

2. An approved conditional use permit or planned unit development approval;

3. A demolition permit;

4. Completion of environmental (SEPA) review for surcharging a site or for environmental or toxic cleanup at a site;

5. A right-of-way use permit.

B. Issuance of Clearing, Grading and Fill Permits without Other Permits. A clearing, grading and fill permit may be issued without an accompanying permit if:

1. The proposed clearing and grading is not related to a project for which one or more of the approvals listed in subsection A of this section is required, but is necessary for the maintenance of the property.

2. Approval of the proposal will not pose a threat to, or be detrimental to, the public health, safety, and welfare, nor be materially detrimental to fish and wildlife habitat and/or water resources.

3. The proper permits issued by the Department of Natural Resources for logging or resource extraction are submitted.

C. Construction Easement or Right-of-Way Entry Requirements. If construction necessitates access, construction, or intrusion onto or across property not under the applicant’s control, then the applicant must provide the city with a copy of a valid construction easement or right of entry before the permit can be issued. (Ord. 2554 § 3, 2003)

17.84.080 Expiration of permits and applications.

A. An application for a clearing, grading and fill permit will be canceled if an applicant fails, without reasonable justification, to respond to the city’s written request for revisions or corrections within 14 days. The public works director may extend the response period beyond 14 days if the applicant provides and adheres to a reasonable schedule for submitting the full revisions.

B. When a permit is ready to be issued, the applicant shall be notified and must pick up the permit within 60 days of notification or it shall be canceled.

C. Clearing, grading and fill permits expire as follows:

1. If a building permit is issued for the same site, the clearing, grading and fill permit shall automatically expire or be extended when the building permit expires or is extended.

2. If a building permit is not issued for the same site, the clearing, grading and fill permit shall expire as follows:

a. The permit shall expire if the authorized work is not begun within six months from the date of permit issuance, or if work is abandoned for over 180 days.

b. If the authorized work is continually performed, the permit shall expire one year from the date of issuance unless a different time frame is specified on the permit or an extension is granted. (Ord. 2554 § 3, 2003)

17.84.090 Conditions of approval/project denial.

A. The city may impose conditions on permit approval as needed to mitigate identified project impacts and shall deny permit applications that are inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter. In addition, the following shall be conditions of all permits:

1. Prior written permission from the public works director, for modification of any plan;

2. Maintenance of an up-to-date, approved copy of the plans on the site.

B. For major clearing, grading and fill permits, the following additional conditions shall also apply:

1. Inspection of erosion construction control measures at least once a week during construction, and after each rain of 0.5 inches or more, and immediate repairs, when necessary;

2. Permission for the city to enter the site for purposes of inspecting compliance with the plans or for performing any work necessary to bring the site into compliance with the plans. (Ord. 2554 § 3, 2003)

17.84.100 Security.

For those proposals where the city has identified potential impacts to soil stability, erosion or environmental damage, the city may require the applicant to furnish security in the form of a bond, assigned savings account, letter of credit, or other security which may be acceptable to the city. The amount of the security, to be determined by the city, shall be sufficient to reimburse the city if it should become necessary for the city to enter the property to correct hazardous conditions relating to soil stability, erosion, or environmental damage caused by failure to complete the work or improper action. (Ord. 2554 § 3, 2003)

17.84.110 Temporary restrictions.

A. General.

1. Rainy season (generally defined as the months of November through April) construction generally will be approved for smaller-scale clearing and grading proposals that have limited shallow utility installation and are on sites with less than 15 percent slopes, predominant soils that have low runoff potential, and are not hydraulically connected to sediment/erosion-sensitive features.

2. Rainy season construction may be approved if adequate measures to control erosion/sedimentation and safeguard slope stability are proposed. If the permit was issued in the dry season (generally defined as the months of May through October), and work is allowed to continue in the rainy season, the city may require additional measures for erosion/sedimentation and/or slope stability.

B. However, the city may prohibit clearing and grading during the rainy season; determinations shall be made on a site-specific basis and evaluation of the following:

1. Average existing slope of the site;

2. Quantity of proposed cut and/or fill;

3. Classification of the predominant soils and their erosion and runoff potential;

4. Hydraulic connection of the site to features that are sensitive to the impacts of erosion;

5. Storm events and periods of heavy precipitation.

C. If a clearing, grading and fill permit is issued for work during the rainy season, and the city subsequently issues a “stop work” order or correction notice for insufficient erosion and sedimentation control, the permit will be suspended until the dry season, or until the public works director determines that weather conditions are favorable and effective erosion and sedimentation control is in place. (Ord. 2554 § 3, 2003)

17.84.120 Maintenance.

A. The permittee shall maintain all temporary and permanent erosion and sedimentation devices so that they function as intended until the site has been permanently stabilized, and the potential for on-site erosion has passed.

B. The permittee shall submit a schedule for operation and maintenance of all construction-related BMPs if the project involves more than 8,000 square feet of clearing and/or more than 100 cubic yards of excavation and/or fill.

C. Erosion control devices that are damaged or not working properly shall be returned to operating condition as directed by the field inspector or within 24 hours of receiving notice from the city. (Ord. 2554 § 3, 2003)

17.84.130 Project inspections.

A. All projects which include clearing, grading, filling, or drainage shall be subject to inspection by the public works director, who shall be granted reasonable right of entry to the worksite by permittee.

B. When required by the public works director, special inspection of the grading operations and special testing shall be performed by qualified professionals employed by the permittee.

C. Each site must be inspected as necessary to ensure that required sediment control measures are installed and effectively maintained in compliance with the approved plan and permit requirements. Where applicable, the permittee must obtain inspection by the city at the following stages:

1. Following the installation of sediment control measures or practices and prior to any other land-disturbing activity;

2. During the construction of sediment basins or storm water management structures;

3. During rough grading, including hauling of imported or wasted materials;

4. Prior to the removal or modification of any sediment control measure or facility;

5. Upon completion of final grading, including the establishment of ground covers and planting, and installation of all landscaping.

D. On approval by the public works director, the permittee may secure the services of a qualified engineer or consultant to inspect the construction of the facilities and provide the city with a fully documented certification that all construction is done in accordance with the provisions of an approved grading, erosion, and sedimentation control or other required plan, applicable rules, regulations, permit conditions, and specifications. If private inspection services are provided, the city shall be notified at the required inspection points and may make spot inspections. (Ord. 2554 § 3, 2003)

17.84.140 Violations.

A. A person or business that violates the requirements of this chapter shall be guilty of a civil infraction. The offender shall be subject to the penalties set forth in Chapter 17.08 BMC.

B. The following clearing, grading and/or fill actions shall be considered violations of this chapter:

1. Clearing and/or grading not authorized under a clearing, grading and fill permit where such a permit is required by this chapter;

2. Clearing and/or grading not in accordance with the plans, conditions, or other requirements in an approved clearing, grading and fill permit. (Ord. 2704 § 2, 2008; Ord. 2554 § 3, 2003)

17.84.150 Notice of civil infraction and required corrective action.

A. Upon verification of a violation based on a visual inspection of the site, the city shall jointly issue a notice of civil infraction and a notice of corrective action. The community development services director shall have the discretion to issue a verbal warning 48 hours prior to issuance of any notice of civil infraction and notice of corrective action.

B. A notice of civil infraction shall be processed in compliance with Chapter 17.08 BMC.

C. A notice of corrective action shall be prepared by a state-certified erosion and sedimentation control lead (CESCL) or state-licensed engineer. The notice of corrective action shall be issued to the property owner and shall include the following corrective action:

1. Installation of required emergency BMPs (best management practices) pursuant to the Western Washington Manual for Stormwater Management, current edition, within 72 hours; and

2. Submission of contact information for an owner-contracted engineer or CESCL to the city within 72 hours; and

3. The submission of a land disturbance permit application within seven days of the notice.

D. Both the notice of corrective action and the notice of civil infraction shall be considered final administrative decisions. (Ord. 2704 § 2, 2008; Ord. 2673 § 2, 2007)