Chapter 2.18


2.18.010    Office created.

2.18.020    Appointment – Term.

2.18.030    Qualifications.

2.18.040    Compensation.

2.18.050    Examiner(s) pro tem – Qualifications and duties.

2.18.060    Freedom from improper influence.

2.18.070    Conflict of interest.

2.18.080    Meetings – Frequency.

2.18.090    Powers of the hearing examiner.

2.18.120    Report of the public services department.

2.18.180    Appeal from examiner’s decision.

2.18.240    Examiner’s report to public services department.

2.18.250    Examiner’s public services department coordination.

2.18.270    Rules.

2.18.280    Public hearing – Record keeping.

2.18.360    Continuances.

2.18.370    Appellate examiner review.

2.18.010 Office created.

A. Pursuant to RCW 35A.63.170 and 58.17.330, the office of land use hearing examiner, hereinafter referred to as “examiner,” is created. The examiner shall interpret, review and implement land use regulations as provided in this chapter or by other ordinances. Unless the context requires otherwise, the term “examiner,” as used in this chapter, shall include “examiner(s) pro tem.”

B. Pursuant to RCW 35A.63.170 and 58.17.330, the office of appellate hearing examiner, hereinafter “appellate examiner,” is created. The appellate examiner shall be the appellate body for the administrative appeals as set forth in BLMC 2.18.180(B). Solely for matters which have no administrative appeal from the examiner, the appellate examiner may serve as an examiner pro tem when needed. (Ord. 1709 § 3, 2023; Ord. 1660 § 1, 2021; Ord. 792 § 1, 1998; Ord. 707 § 1, 1995).

2.18.020 Appointment – Term.

The hearing examiner, appellate examiner, and hearing examiner pro tem shall be appointed by the mayor for an initial one-year term with the consent of the city council. The examiners serve at the will of the mayor’s discretion. Subsequent terms shall be for a period of four years. (Ord. 1709 § 3, 2023; Ord. 1660 § 1, 2021; Ord. 792 § 1, 1998; Ord. 707 § 2, 1995).

2.18.030 Qualifications.

The examiner and appellate examiner shall be appointed solely with regard to their qualifications for the duties of the office which shall include a juris doctor degree and a license to practice law in the state of Washington and a minimum of five years of experience as a land use hearing examiner or as a land use attorney representing clients before administrative decision makers. (Ord. 1709 § 3, 2023; Ord. 1660 § 1, 2021; Ord. 792 § 1, 1998; Ord. 707 § 3, 1995).

2.18.040 Compensation.

The city may contract with the examiner, appellate examiner and examiner pro tem for the performance of duties described in this chapter. (Ord. 1709 § 3, 2023; Ord. 1660 § 1, 2021; Ord. 792 § 1, 1998; Ord. 707 § 4, 1995).

2.18.050 Examiner(s) pro tem – Qualifications and duties.

The examiner pro tem shall be subject to the same qualifications as the hearing examiner, and shall have all the duties and powers of the hearing examiner. (Ord. 1709 § 3, 2023; Ord. 1660 § 1, 2021; Ord. 792 § 1, 1998; Ord. 707 § 5, 1995).

2.18.060 Freedom from improper influence.

No person, including city or county officials, elective or appointive, shall attempt to influence an examiner in any matter pending before the examiner, except at a public hearing duly called for such purpose, or to interfere with an examiner in the performance of the examiner’s duties in any other way; provided, that this section shall not prohibit the city attorney from rendering legal services to the examiner upon request. (Ord. 1709 § 3, 2023; Ord. 1660 § 1, 2021; Ord. 792 § 1, 1998; Ord. 707 § 6, 1995).

2.18.070 Conflict of interest.

No examiner shall conduct or participate in any hearing, decision or recommendation in which the examiner has a direct or indirect substantial financial or familial interest, or concern in which the examiner has had substantial prehearing contacts with proponents or opponents. No member of city council who has such an interest or has had such contacts shall participate in the consideration of an appeal from or a review of an examiner’s decision. (Ord. 1709 § 3, 2023; Ord. 1660 § 1, 2021; Ord. 792 § 1, 1998; Ord. 707 § 7, 1995).

2.18.080 Meetings – Frequency.

Meetings of the hearing examiner shall convene once a month, if necessary, or more frequently as need requires. Meetings of the appellate examiner shall convene as needed to hear appeals. (Ord. 1709 § 3, 2023; Ord. 1660 § 1, 2021; Ord. 792 § 1, 1998; Ord. 707 § 8, 1995).

2.18.090 Powers of the hearing examiner.

A. The hearing examiner shall receive and examine all available information, conduct public hearings, prepare a record thereof, consider the applicable permit criteria, and enter decisions or recommendations for the following matters in accordance with the procedural chapters here cited:

1. Issue final decision on all Type 3A and 3B permits as defined in BLMC 14.30.010;

2. Conduct the public hearing for all Type 4 permits as defined in BLMC 14.30.010 and provide a recommendation to the city council, who then makes the final decision;

3. Hear appeals of actions of the director(s) in accordance with Chapter 14.120 BLMC;

4. Hear appeals of notices of violation and civil penalties in accordance with Chapter 14.130 BLMC;

5. Issue determination regarding a dwelling, building, structure, or premises being unfit for human habitation as provided in BLMC 14.130.160; and

6. Other quasi-judicial matters as may be assigned or delegated to the examiner by the city council or the municipal code.

B. The hearing examiner’s decision on permit applications may be to grant or deny the application, or the examiner may require of the applicant such conditions, modifications and restrictions as the examiner finds necessary to make the application compatible with its environment and carry out the objectives and goals of the comprehensive plan, the development code, and other codes and ordinances of the city of Bonney Lake and applicable state and federal laws.

C. The hearing examiner shall have no role in legislative actions, including comprehensive plan amendments, municipal code amendments, and associated SEPA determinations, unless specifically delegated such authority by the city council. (Ord. 1709 § 3, 2023; Ord. 1660 § 1, 2021; Ord. 1505 § 7, 2015; Ord. 988 § 5, 2003; Ord. 792 § 1, 1998; Ord. 766 § 3, 1998; Ord. 707 § 9, 1995).

2.18.120 Report of the public services department.

The public services department shall coordinate and assemble the reviews of other city or county departments and governmental agencies having an interest in the subject application and shall prepare a report summarizing the factors involved and the department’s findings and recommendations. At least five working days prior to the scheduled hearing the report shall be filed with the examiner. (Ord. 1709 § 3, 2023; Ord. 1660 § 1, 2021; Ord. 988 § 5, 2003; Ord. 792 § 1, 1998; Ord. 707 § 12, 1995).

2.18.180 Appeal from examiner’s decision.

A. The decision of the examiner on Type 3A and 3B permit applications and appeals of administrative decisions, notice of violations, and civil penalties shall be final. Appeal of a hearing examiner’s decision shall be through the Land Use Petition Act (LUPA), Chapter 36.70C RCW.

B. The hearing examiner’s decision related to the fitness of buildings, structures, dwellings, and premises under BLMC 14.130.160 shall be final unless appealed to the appellate examiner. (Ord. 1709 § 3, 2023; Ord. 1660 § 1, 2021; Ord. 1505 § 8, 2015; Ord. 988 § 5, 2003; Ord. 792 § 1, 1998; Ord. 707 § 18, 1995).

2.18.240 Examiner’s report to public services department.

The examiner shall report in writing to and meet with the public services department at least annually for the purpose of reviewing the administration of the land use policies and regulatory ordinances. Such report shall include a summary of the examiner’s decisions and costs since the last report. (Ord. 1709 § 3, 2023; Ord. 1660 § 1, 2021; Ord. 792 § 1, 1998; Ord. 707 § 22, 1995).

2.18.250 Examiner’s public services department coordination.

The examiner may at any time, on the examiner’s own motion, request advice and counsel of the public services department staff regarding interpretation of city codes, policies, and regulations. (Ord. 1709 § 3, 2023; Ord. 1660 § 1, 2021; Ord. 792 § 1, 1998; Ord. 707 § 22a, 1995).

2.18.270 Rules.

The examiner and appellate examiner shall have the power to prescribe rules for the conduct of hearings and other procedural matters related to the duties of the office. Such rules may provide for cross-examination of witnesses. (Ord. 1709 § 3, 2023; Ord. 1660 § 1, 2021).

2.18.280 Public hearing – Record keeping.

All hearings shall be public. Records of the examiner and appellate examiner shall be kept by the city and shall be made available to the public upon request. The city shall record the hearings and the examiner shall provide the clerk to facilitate the hearing. (Ord. 1709 § 3, 2023; Ord. 1660 § 1, 2021; Ord. 792 § 1, 1998; Ord. 707 § 25, 1995).

2.18.360 Continuances.

Once legal notice has been given, no matter shall be postponed over the objection of any interested party, except for good cause shown. Continuances may be granted at the discretion of the examiner or appellate examiner; provided, the interested parties in attendance shall be given an opportunity to testify prior to the continuance. The applicant shall pay the actual cost for any hearing postponed or continued by request of the applicants after legal notice has been given; provided, that an applicant is not required to pay the continuance fee if the continuance is warranted by new information presented by the city or third parties not including the applicant or other proponents of the application. (Ord. 1709 § 3, 2023; Ord. 1660 § 1, 2021).

2.18.370 Appellate examiner review.

A. Upon receipt of a valid petition for review, transcript and all other material pertaining to the hearing examiner record on the project, the appellate examiner shall conduct a closed record review of the decision. Such review shall be upon the record established and made at the hearing held by the hearing examiner.

B. If the appellate examiner, after conducting this review, finds that: (1) the examiner’s finding or decision contains substantial error; (2) the examiner’s proceedings were materially affected by irregularities in procedure; (3) the examiner’s recommendation was unsupported by substantial evidence in view of the entire record as submitted; or (4) the examiner’s decision is in conflict with the city’s adopted plans, policies and ordinances, the appellate examiner may remand for further hearing before the hearing examiner or may make findings based upon the record and conclusions therefrom and reverse the hearing examiner’s decision. In addition, the appellate examiner may make findings based upon the record and conclusions therefrom and choose to modify the examiner’s decision based on the above criteria. Further, any proposal may be continued to a time certain for additional city staff analysis and/or communication from the examiner if desired by the appellate examiner, before a final determination by the appellate examiner; provided, that final action should occur within 60 calendar days of the date the petition for review was filed; provided, however, that in the event new factual information is brought forward and the appellate hearing examiner concludes that such evidence was not available, nor could have been reasonably made available, at the hearing examiner hearing, the appellate hearing examiner may remand to hearing examiner for a re-opening of the record on that limited issue.

C. If the appellate examiner determines that there is no basis for the alleged errors set forth in the appeal, he/she shall affirm the decision of the hearing examiner. The decision of the appellate examiner shall be final unless within 21 days of the decision of the appellate examiner a valid land use petition is filed with the superior court of Washington for Pierce County seeking judicial review of the action taken, pursuant to the requirements of state law. If the court orders a copy of the record to be submitted, the petitioner shall prepare at the petitioners’ expense and submit a verbatim transcript of any hearings held on the matter. (Ord. 1709 § 3, 2023).