40.240.800 General Management Area Scenic Review Criteria

The following scenic review guidelines shall apply to all review uses in the GMA:

A.    All Review Uses.

1.    New buildings and roads shall be sited and designed to retain the existing topography and reduce necessary grading to the maximum extent practicable.

2.    New buildings shall be compatible with the general scale (height, dimensions and overall mass) of existing nearby development. Expansion of existing development shall comply with this guideline to the maximum extent practicable.

3.    Project applicants shall be responsible for the proper maintenance and survival of any planted vegetation required by the guidelines in Section 40.240.800.

4.    A site plan and land use application shall be submitted for all new buildings, except for buildings smaller than sixty (60) square feet in area and less than or equal to ten (10) feet in height, as measured at the roof peak. The site plan and application shall include all information required in Section 40.240.050. Supplemental requirements for developments proposed on lands visible from key viewing areas are included in the key viewing areas guidelines in this chapter.

5.    For all proposed development, the determination of compatibility with the landscape setting shall be based on information submitted in the site plan.

6.    For all new production and/or development of mineral resources and expansion of existing quarries, a reclamation plan is required to restore the site to a natural appearance which blends with and emulates surrounding landforms to the maximum extent practicable. At a minimum, such reclamation plans shall include:

a.    A map of the site, at a scale of one (1) inch equals two hundred (200) feet (1:2,400), or a scale providing greater detail, with ten (10) foot contour intervals or less, showing pre-mining existing grades and post-mining final grades; locations of topsoil stockpiles for eventual reclamation use; location of catch-basins or similar drainage and erosion control features employed for the duration of the use; and the location of storage, processing and equipment areas employed for the duration of the use.

b.    Cross-sectional drawings of the site showing pre-mining and post-grades. Descriptions of the proposed use, in terms of estimated quantity and type of material removed, estimated duration of the use, processing activities, etc.

c.    Description of the proposed use, in terms of estimated quantity and type of material removed, estimated duration of the use, processing activities, etc.

d.    Description of drainage/erosion control features to be employed for the duration of the use.

e.    A landscaping plan providing for revegetation consistent with the vegetation patterns of the subject landscape setting, indicating the species, number, size and location of plantings for the final reclaimed grade, as well as a description of irrigation provisions or other measures necessary to ensure the survival of plantings.

7.    All reclamation plans for new quarries or expansion of existing quarries shall be sent to the appropriate state reclamation permitting agency for review and comment. The state agency shall have thirty (30) calendar days from the date a reclamation plan is mailed to submit written comments on the proposal. State agency comments shall address the following:

a.    Whether the proposed mining is subject to state reclamation permit requirements;

b.    If subject to state jurisdiction, whether an application has been received for a state reclamation permit and, if so, the current status of the application; and

c.    For uses subject to state jurisdiction, any issues or concerns regarding consistency with state reclamation requirements, or any suggested modifications to comply with state reclamation requirements.

B.    Key Viewing Areas.

1.    The guidelines in this section shall apply to proposed development on sites topographically visible from key viewing areas.

2.    Each development shall be visually subordinate to its setting as seen from key viewing areas.

3.    Determination of potential visual effects and compliance with visual subordinance policies shall include consideration of the cumulative effects of proposed developments.

4.    The extent and type of conditions applied to a proposed development to achieve visual subordinance shall be proportionate to its potential visual impacts as seen from key viewing areas.

a.    Decisions shall include written findings addressing the factors influencing potential visual impact, including but not limited to:

(1)    The amount of area of the building site exposed to key viewing areas;

(2)    The degree of existing vegetation providing screening;

(3)    The distance from the building site to the key viewing areas from which it is visible;

(4)    The number of key viewing areas from which it is visible; and

(5)    The linear distance along the key viewing areas from which the building site is visible (for linear key viewing areas, such as roads).

b.    Conditions may be applied to various elements of proposed developments to ensure they are visually subordinate to their setting as seen from key viewing areas, including but not limited to:

(1)    Siting (location of development on the subject property, building orientation, and other elements);

(2)    Retention of existing vegetation;

(3)    Design (color, reflectivity, size, shape, height, architectural and design details and other elements); and

(4)    New landscaping.

5.    New development shall be sited to achieve visual subordinance from key viewing areas, unless the siting would place such development in a buffer specified for protection of wetlands, riparian corridors, sensitive plants, sensitive wildlife sites or conflict with the protection of cultural resources. In such situations, development shall comply with this guideline to the maximum extent practicable.

6.    New development shall be sited using existing topography and/or existing vegetation as needed to achieve visual subordinance from key viewing areas.

7.    Existing tree cover screening proposed development from key viewing areas shall be retained as specified in Section 40.240.800(C).

8.    The silhouette of new buildings shall remain below the skyline of a bluff cliff or ridge as seen from key viewing areas. Variances to this guideline may be granted if application of the guideline would leave the owner without a reasonable economic use. The variance shall be the minimum necessary to allow the use, and may be applied only after all reasonable efforts to modify the design, building height, and site to comply with the guideline have been made.

9.    An alteration to a building built prior to November 17, 1986, which already protrudes above the skyline of a bluff, cliff or ridge as seen from a key viewing area, may itself protrude above the skyline if:

a.    The altered building, through use of color, landscaping and/or other mitigation measures, contrasts less with its setting than before the alteration; and

b.    There is no practicable alternative means of altering the building without increasing the protrusion.

10.    The following guidelines shall apply to new landscaping used to screen development from key viewing areas:

a.    New landscaping (including new earth berms) shall be required only when application of all other available guidelines in Section 40.240.800 is not sufficient to make the development visually subordinate from key viewing areas. Alternate sites shall be considered prior to using new landscaping to achieve visual subordinance. Development shall be sited to avoid the need for new landscaping wherever possible.

b.    If new landscaping is required to make a proposed development visually subordinate from key viewing areas, existing on-site vegetative screening and other visibility factors shall be analyzed to determine the extent of new landscaping, and the size of new trees needed to achieve the standard. Any vegetation planted pursuant to this guideline shall be sized to provide sufficient screening to make the development visually subordinate within five (5) years or less from the commencement of construction.

c.    Unless as specified otherwise by provisions in Section 40.240.800, landscaping shall be installed as soon as practicable, and prior to project completion. Applicants and successors in interest for the subject parcel are responsible for the proper maintenance and survival of planted vegetation, and replacement of such vegetation that does not survive.

d.    The Scenic Resources Implementation Handbook shall include recommended species for each landscape setting consistent with the Landscape Settings Design Guidelines in Section 40.240.800(C), and minimum recommended sizes of new trees planted (based on average growth rates expected for recommended species).

11.    Conditions regarding new landscaping or retention of existing vegetation for new developments on lands designated GMA Forest shall meet both scenic guidelines and fuel break requirements in Section 40.240.540(A).

12.    Unless expressly exempted by other provisions in Section 40.240.800, colors of structures on sites visible from key viewing areas shall be dark earth-tones found at the specific site or in the surrounding landscape. The specific colors or list of acceptable colors shall be included as a condition of approval. The Scenic Resources Implementation Handbook will include a recommended palette of colors.

13.    The exterior of buildings on lands seen from key viewing areas shall be composed of nonreflective materials or materials with low reflectivity, unless the structure would be fully screened from all key viewing areas by existing topographic features. The Scenic Resources Implementation Handbook will include a list of recommended exterior materials. These recommended materials and other materials may be deemed consistent with this guideline, including those where the specific application meets recommended thresholds in the “Visibility and Reflectivity Matrices” in the Implementation Handbook. Continuous surfaces of glass unscreened from key viewing areas shall be limited to ensure visual subordinance. Recommended square footage limitations for such surfaces will be provided for guidance in the Implementation Handbook.

14.    In addition to the site plan requirements in Section 40.240.050, applications for all buildings visible from key viewing areas shall include a description of the proposed building(s’) height, shape, color, exterior building materials, exterior lighting, and landscaping details (type of plants used, number, size, locations of plantings, and any irrigation provisions or other measures to ensure the survival of landscaping planted for screening purposes).

15.    For proposed mining and associated activities on lands visible from key viewing areas, in addition to submittal of plans and information pursuant to Section 40.240.800(A)(6) and subsection (B)(4) of this section, project applicants shall submit perspective drawings of the proposed mining areas as seen from applicable key viewing areas.

16.    Exterior lighting shall be directed downward and sited, hooded and shielded such that it is not highly visible from key viewing areas. Shielding and hooding materials shall be composed of nonreflective, opaque materials.

17.    Additions to existing buildings smaller in total square area than the existing building may be the same color as the existing building. Additions larger than the existing building shall be of dark earth tone colors found at the specific site or in the surrounding landscape. The specific colors or list or acceptable colors shall be included as a condition of approval. The Scenic Resources Implementation Handbook will include a recommended palette of colors.

18.    Rehabilitation of or modifications to existing significant historic structures shall be exempted from visual subordinance requirements for lands seen from key viewing areas. To be eligible for such exemption, the structure must be included in or eligible for inclusion in, the National Register of Historic Places or be in the process of applying for a determination of significance pursuant to such regulations. Rehabilitation of or modifications to structures meeting this guideline shall be consistent with National Park Service regulations for such structures.

19.    New main lines on lands visible from key viewing areas for the transmission of electricity, gas, oil, other fuels, or communications, except for connections to individual users or small clusters of individual users, shall be built in existing transmission corridors unless it can be demonstrated that use of existing corridors is not practicable. Such new lines shall be underground as a first preference unless it can be demonstrated to be impracticable.

20.    New communication facilities (antennas, dishes, etc.) on lands visible from key viewing areas, which require an open and unobstructed site, shall be built upon existing facilities unless it can be demonstrated that use of existing facilities is not practicable.

21.    New communications facilities may protrude above a skyline visible from a key viewing area only upon demonstration that:

a.    The facility is necessary for public service;

b.    The break in the skyline is seen only in the background; and

c.    The break in the skyline is the minimum necessary to provide the service.

22.    Overpasses, safety and directional signs and other road and highway facilities may protrude above a skyline visible from a key viewing area only upon a demonstration that:

a.    The facility is necessary for public service; and

b.    The break in the skyline is the minimum necessary to provide the service.

23.    Except for water-dependent development and for water-related recreation development, development shall be set back one hundred (100) feet from the ordinary high water mark of the Columbia River below Bonneville Dam, and one hundred (100) feet from the normal pool elevation of the Columbia River above Bonneville Dam, unless the setback would render a property unbuildable. In such cases, variances to the setback may be authorized.

24.    New buildings shall not be permitted on lands visible from key viewing areas with slopes in excess of thirty percent (30%). A variance may be authorized if the property would be rendered unbuildable through the application of this guideline. In determining the slope, the average percent slope of the proposed building site shall be used.

25.    Driveways and buildings shall be designed and sited to minimize visibility of cut banks and fill slopes from key viewing areas.

26.    All proposed structural development involving more than two hundred (200) cubic yards of grading on sites visible from key viewing areas shall include submittal of a grading plan. This plan shall be reviewed by the responsible official for compliance with key viewing area policies. The grading plan shall include the following:

a.    A map of the site, prepared at a scale of one (1) inch equals two hundred (200) feet (1:2,400), or a scale providing greater detail, with contour intervals of at least five (5) feet, including:

(1)    Existing and proposed final grades;

(2)    Location of all areas to be graded, with cut banks and fill slopes delineated; and

(3)    Estimated dimensions of graded areas.

b.    A narrative description (may be submitted on the grading plan site map and accompanying drawings) of the proposed grading activity, including:

(1)    Its purpose;

(2)    An estimate of the total volume of material to be moved;

(3)    The height of all cut banks and fill slopes;

(4)    Provisions to be used for compaction, drainage, and stabilization of graded areas (preparation of this information by a licensed engineer or engineering geologist is recommended);

(5)    A description of all plant materials used to revegetated exposed slopes and banks, including type of species, number of, size and location of plants, and a description of irrigation provisions or other measures necessary to ensure the survival of plantings; and

(6)    A description of any other interim or permanent erosion control measures to be utilized.

27.    Expansion of existing quarries and new production and/or development of mineral resources proposed on sites within the CRGNSA area more than three (3) miles from the nearest key viewing areas from which it is visible may be allowed upon a demonstration that:

a.    The site plan requirements for such proposals pursuant to this chapter have been met.

b.    The area to be mined and the area to be used for primary processing, equipment storage, stockpiling, etc., associated with the use would be visually subordinate as seen from any key viewing areas.

c.    A reclamation plan to restore the site to a natural appearance which blends with and emulates surrounding landforms to the maximum extent practicable has been approved pursuant to Section 40.240.800(A)(7).

d.    A written report on a determination of visual subordinance has been completed, with findings addressing the extent of visibility of proposed activities from key viewing areas, including:

(1)    A list of key viewing areas from which exposed mining surfaces (and associated facilities/activities) would be visible;

(2)    An estimate of the surface area of exposed mining surfaces that would be visible from those key viewing areas;

(3)    The distance from those key viewing areas and the linear distance along those key viewing areas from which proposed mining surfaces are visible;

(4)    The slope and aspect of mining surfaces relative to those portions of key viewing areas from which they are visible;

(5)    The degree to which potentially visible minimum surfaces are screened from key viewing areas by existing vegetation, including winter screening considerations; and

(6)    The degree to which potentially visible mining surfaces would be screened by new plantings, berms, etc., and appropriate time frames to achieve such results, including winter screening considerations.

28.    Unless addressed by subsection (B)(26) of this section, new production and/or development of mineral resources may be allowed upon a demonstration that:

a.    The site plan requirements for such proposals pursuant to this section have been met;

b.    The area to be mined and the area used for primary processing, equipment storage, stockpiling, etc., associated with the use would be fully screened from any key viewing area; and

c.    A reclamation plan to restore the area to a natural appearance which blends with and emulates surrounding landforms to the maximum extent practicable has been approved. At minimum, the reclamation plan shall comply with Section 40.240.800(A)(7).

29.    An interim time period to achieve compliance with visual subordinance requirements for expansion of existing quarries and development of new quarries located more than three (3) miles from the nearest visible key viewing area shall be established prior to approval. The interim time period shall be based on site-specific topographic and visual conditions, but shall not exceed three (3) years beyond the date of approval.

30.    An interim time period to achieve compliance with full screening requirements for new quarries located less than three (3) miles from the nearest visible key viewing area shall be established prior to approval. The interim time period shall be based on site-specific topographic and visual conditions, but shall not exceed one (1) year beyond the date of approval. Quarrying activity occurring prior to achieving compliance with fall screening requirements shall be limited to activities necessary to provide such screening (creation of berms, etc.).

(Amended: Ord. 2006-08-21; Ord. 2008-06-02)

C.    All review uses within the following landscape settings, as delineated by the Columbia River Gorge Management Plan Landscape Settings map, shall comply with the following applicable guidelines:

1.    Pastoral.

a.    Accessory structures, outbuildings and accessways shall be clustered together as much as possible, particularly towards the edges of existing meadows, pastures and farm fields.

b.    In portions of this setting visible from key viewing areas, the following guidelines shall be employed to achieve visual subordinance for new development and expansion of existing development:

(1)    Except as is necessary for site development or safety purposes, the existing tree cover screening the development from key viewing areas shall be retained.

(2)    Vegetative landscaping shall, where feasible, retain the open character of existing pastures and fields.

(3)    At least one-half (1/2) of any trees planted for screening purposes shall be species native to the setting or commonly found in the area. Such species include fruit trees, Douglas fir, Lombardy poplar (usually in rows), Oregon white oak, big leaf maple, and black locust (primarily in the eastern Gorge).

(4)    At least one-quarter (1/4) of any trees planted for screening shall be coniferous for winter screening.

c.    Compatible recreation uses include resource-based recreation uses of a very low- or low-intensity nature (as defined by Section 40.240.890), occurring infrequently in the landscape.

2.    Coniferous Woodland.

a.    Structure height shall remain below the forest canopy level.

b.    In portions of this setting visible from key viewing areas, the following guidelines shall be employed to achieve visual subordinance for new development and expansion of existing development:

(1)    Except as is necessary for construction of access roads, building pads, leach fields, etc., the existing tree cover screening the development from key viewing areas shall be retained.

(2)    At least one-half (1/2) of any trees planted for screening purposes shall be species native to the setting. Such species include: Douglas fir, grand fir, western red cedar, western hemlock, big leaf maple, red alder, ponderosa, pine and Oregon white oak, and various native willows (for riparian areas).

(3)    At least one-half (1/2) of any trees planted for screening purposes shall be coniferous to provide winter screening.

c.    Compatible recreation uses include resource-based recreation uses of varying intensities. Typically, outdoor recreation uses should be low intensity, and include trails, small picnic areas and scenic viewpoints. Some more intensive recreation uses, such as campgrounds, may occur. They should be scattered, interspersed with large areas of undeveloped land and low-intensity uses.

3.    Rural Residential.

a.    Existing tree cover shall be retained as much as possible, except as is necessary for site development, safety purposes, or as part of forest management practices.

b.    In portions of this setting visible from key viewing areas the following guidelines shall be employed to achieve visual subordinance for new development and expansion of existing development:

(1)    Except as is necessary for site development or safety purposes, the existing tree cover screening the development from key viewing areas shall be retained.

(2)    Vegetative landscaping shall, where feasible, retain the open character of existing pastures and fields.

(3)    At least one-half (1/2) of any trees planted for screening purposes shall be species native to the setting or commonly found in the area. Such species include fruit trees, Douglas fir, Lombardy poplar (usually in rows), Oregon white oak, big leaf maple, and black locust (primarily in the eastern Gorge).

(4)    At least one-quarter (1/4) of any trees planted for screening purposes shall be coniferous to provide winter screening.

c.    Compatible recreation uses should be limited to very low and low-intensity resource-based recreation uses (such as scenic overlooks).

4.    Rural Residential/Pastoral.

a.    New development in this setting shall meet the design guidelines for both the Rural Residential setting and the more rural Pastoral setting with which it is combined unless it can be demonstrated that compliance with the guidelines for the more rural setting is impracticable. Expansion of existing development shall comply with this guideline to the maximum extent practicable.

b.    In the event of a possible conflict between the guidelines, the guidelines for the more rural Pastoral setting shall apply, unless it can be demonstrated that application of such guidelines would not be practicable.

c.    Compatible recreation uses should be limited to very low- and low-intensity resource-based recreation uses, scattered infrequently in the landscape.

5.    River Bottomlands.

a.    In portions of this setting visible from key viewing areas, the following guidelines shall be employed to achieve visual subordinance for new development and expansion of existing development:

(1)    Except as is necessary for site development or safety purposes, existing tree cover screening the development from key viewing areas shall be retained.

(2)    At least one-half (1/2) of any trees planted for screening purposes shall be species native to the River Bottomland setting. Public recreation developments are encouraged to maximize the percentage of planted screening vegetation native to this setting. Such species include: black cottonwood, big leaf maple, red alder, Oregon white ash, Douglas fir, western red cedar and western hemlock (west Gorge) and various native willow species.

(3)    At least one-quarter (1/4) of any trees planted for screening purposes shall be coniferous for winter screening.

b.    Compatible recreation uses depend on the degree of natural resource sensitivity of a particular site. In the most critically sensitive River Bottomlands, very low-intensity uses which do not impair wetlands or special habitat requirements may be compatible. In other River Bottomland areas, nodes of moderate-intensity and/or high-intensity recreation uses may be compatible; provided, that:

(1)    Their designs emphasize retention and/or enhancement of native riparian communities;

(2)    Structures and parking areas are visually subordinate; and

(3)    They are separated from other areas of concentrated recreation usage by stretches of natural appearing shoreline and adjacent uplands.

D.    All review uses within scenic travel corridors shall comply with the following applicable guidelines:

1.    For the purposes of implementing this section, the foreground of a scenic travel corridor shall include those lands within one-quarter (1/4) mile of the edge of pavement of the Washington State Route 14.

2.    All new buildings and alterations to existing buildings, except in a Rural Center designation (village landscape setting), shall be set back at least one hundred (100) feet from the edge of pavement of Washington State Route 14 (SR-14). A variance to this setback requirement may be granted pursuant to Section 40.240.150. All new parking lots and expansions of existing parking lots shall be set back at least one hundred (100) feet from the edge of pavement of SR-14, to the maximum extent practicable.

3.    Additions to existing buildings or expansion of existing parking lots located within one hundred (100) feet of the edge of pavement of a SR-14 shall comply with subsection (D)(2) of this section to the maximum extent practicable.

4.    All proposed vegetation management projects in public rights-of-way to provide or improve views shall include the following:

a.    An evaluation of potential visual impacts of the proposed project as seen from any key viewing area;

b.    An inventory of any rare plants, sensitive wildlife habitat, wetlands or riparian areas on the project site. If such resources are determined to be present, the project shall comply with applicable guidelines to protect the resources.

5.    When evaluating possible locations for undergrounding of signal wires or powerlines, railroads and utility companies shall prioritize those areas specifically recommended as extreme or high priorities for undergrounding in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Corridor Visual Inventory prepared in April, 1990.

6.    New production and/or development of mineral resources proposed within one-quarter (1/4) mile of the edge of pavement of SR-14 may be allowed upon a demonstration that full visual screening of the site from SR-14 can be achieved by use of existing topographic features or existing vegetation designed to be retained through the planned duration of the proposed project. An exception to this may be granted if planting of new vegetation in the vicinity of the access road to the mining area would achieve full screening. If existing vegetation is partly or fully employed to achieve visual screening, over seventy-five percent (75%) of the tree canopy area shall be coniferous species providing adequate winter screening. Mining and associated primary processing of mineral resources is prohibited within one hundred (100) feet of SR-14, as measured from the edge of pavement, except for access roads. Compliance with full screening requirements shall be achieved within time frames specified in Section 40.240.800(B)(30).

7.    Expansion of existing quarries may be allowed pursuant to Section 40.240.800(B)(27). Compliance with visual subordinance requirements shall be achieved within time frames specified in Section 40.240.800(B)(29).

(Amended: Ord. 2006-05-04; Ord. 2008-06-02)