40.240.810 Special Management Area Scenic Review Criteria

A.    SMA Design Guidelines Based on Landscape Settings.

    The following guidelines apply to all lands within SMA landscape settings regardless of visibility from key viewing areas (includes areas seen from key viewing areas as well as areas not seen from key viewing areas):

1.    Pastoral. Pastoral areas shall retain the overall appearance of an agricultural landscape.

a.    The use of plant species common to the landscape setting shall be encouraged. The use of plant species in rows as commonly found in the landscape setting is encouraged.

2.    Coniferous Woodlands areas shall retain the overall appearance of a woodland landscape. New developments and land uses shall retain the overall visual character of the natural appearance of the Coniferous Woodland landscape.

a.    Buildings in the Coniferous Woodland landscape setting shall be encouraged to have a vertical overall appearance.

b.    Use of plant species native to the landscape setting shall be encouraged. Where non-native plants are used, they shall have native appearing characteristics.

3.    River Bottomlands. River bottomlands shall retain the overall visual character of a floodplain and associated islands.

a.    Buildings shall have an overall horizontal appearance in areas with little tree cover.

b.    Use of plant species native to the landscape setting shall be encouraged. Where non-native plants are used, they shall have native appearing characteristics.

B.    SMA Guidelines for Development and Uses Visible from Key Viewing Areas.

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

2.    New developments and land uses shall be evaluated to ensure that the required scenic standard is met and that scenic resources are adversely affected, including cumulative effects, based on the degree of visibility from key viewing areas.

3.    In all landscape settings, scenic standards shall be met by blending new development with the adjacent natural landscape elements rather than with existing development.

4.    Proposed developments or land use shall be sited to achieve the applicable scenic standard. Development shall be designed to fit the natural topography to take advantage of landform and vegetation screening, and to minimize visible grading or other modifications of landforms, vegetation cover and natural characteristics. When screening of development is needed to meet the scenic standard from key viewing areas, use of existing topography and vegetation shall be given priority over other means of achieving the scenic standard such as planting new vegetation or using artificial berms.

5.    The required SMA scenic standards for all development and uses are summarized below in Table 40.240.810-1.

6.    The extent and type of conditions applied to a proposed development or use to achieve the scenic standard shall be proportionate to its degree of visibility from key viewing areas.

a.    Decisions shall include written findings addressing the factors influencing the degree of visibility, including but not limited to the following:

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

(2)    Degree of existing vegetation providing screening;

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

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

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

Table 40.240.810-1. Required SMA Scenic Standards

Landscape Setting

Land Use Designation

Scenic Standard

Coniferous Woodland

Forest (National Forest Lands), Open Space

Not Visually Evident

River Bottomlands

Open Space

Not Visually Evident

Coniferous Woodland

Forest, Agriculture, Residential, Public Recreation

Visually Subordinate

Residential

Residential

Visually Subordinate

Pastoral

Forest, Agriculture, Public Recreation, Open Space

Visually Subordinate

River Bottomlands

Forest, Agriculture, Public Recreation

Visually Subordinate

b.    Conditions may be applied to various elements of proposed developments to ensure they meet the scenic standard for 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.

7.    Sites approved for new development to achieve scenic standards shall be consistent with guidelines to protect wetlands, riparian corridors, sensitive plant or wildlife sites and the buffer zones of each of these natural resources, and guidelines to protect cultural resources.

8.    Proposed developments shall not protrude above the line of a bluff, cliff, or skyline as seen from key viewing areas.

9.    Structure height shall remain below the average tree canopy height of the natural vegetation adjacent to the structure, except if it has been demonstrated that meeting this guideline is not feasible considering the function of the structure.

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

a.    New landscaping (including new earth berms) to achieve the required scenic standard from key viewing areas shall be required only when application of all other available guidelines in this chapter is not sufficient to make the development meet the scenic standard from key viewing areas. Development shall be sited to avoid the need for new landscaping wherever possible.

b.    If new landscaping is necessary to meet the required standard, 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 meet the scenic standard within five (5) years or less from the commencement of construction.

c.    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 this chapter, and minimum recommended sizes of new trees planted (based on average growth rates expected for recommended species).

11.    Unless expressly exempted by other provisions in this chapter, colors of structures on sites visible from key viewing areas shall be dark earth-tones found at the specific site or 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 as dark or darker than the colors in the shadows of the natural features surrounding each landscape setting.

12.    The exterior of structures on lands seen from key viewing areas shall be composed of nonreflective materials or materials with low reflectivity. The Scenic Resources Implementation Handbook will include a recommended list of exterior materials. These recommended materials and other materials may be deemed consistent with this guideline, including those where the specific application meets approval 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 meeting the scenic standard. Recommended square footage limitations for such surfaces will be provided for guidance in the Implementation Handbook.

13.    Any exterior lighting shall be sited, limited in intensity, shielded or hooded in a manner that prevents lights from being highly visible from key viewing areas and from noticeably contrasting with the surrounding landscape setting except for road lighting necessary for safety purposes.

14.    Seasonal lighting displays shall be permitted on a temporary basis, not to exceed three (3) month’s duration.

(Amended: Ord. 2008-06-02)

C.    SMA Guidelines for Key Viewing Area Foregrounds and Scenic Routes.

1.    All new developments and land uses immediately adjacent to scenic routes shall be in conformance with state or county scenic route guidelines.

2.    Scenic highway corridor strategies shall be developed and implemented for Washington State Route 14 (SR-14). For SR-14 this involves ongoing implementation (and possible updating) of the associated existing documents.

3.    The goals of scenic corridor strategies shall include: (a) providing a framework for future highway improvements and management that meet Management Plan scenic guidelines and public transportation needs; and (b) creating design continuity for the highway corridor within the Scenic Area. Corridor strategies shall, at minimum, include design guidelines (e.g., materials, conceptual designs, etc.) for typical projects that are consistent with Management Plan scenic resources provisions and an interdisciplinary, interagency project planning and development process.

4.    The following guidelines shall apply only to development within the immediate foregrounds of key viewing areas. Immediate foregrounds are defined as within the developed prism of a river, road or trail key viewing area. These guidelines apply in addition to applicable guidelines of Section 40.240.810(B).

a.    The proposed development shall be designed and sited to meet the applicable scenic standard from the foreground of the subject key viewing area. If the development cannot meet the standard, findings must be made documenting why the project cannot meet the requirements in Section 40.240.810(B) and why it cannot be redesigned or wholly or partly relocated to meet the scenic standard.

b.    Findings must evaluate the following:

(1)    The limiting factors to meeting the required scenic standard and/or applicable guidelines from Section 40.240.810(B);

(2)    Reduction in project size;

(3)    Options for alternative sites for all or part of the project, considering parcel configuration and on-site topographic or vegetative screening; and

(4)    Options for design changes including changing the design shape, configuration, color, height, or texture in order to meet the scenic standard.

c.    Form, line, color, texture, and design of a proposed development shall be evaluated to ensure that the development blends with its setting as seen from the foreground of key viewing areas:

(1)    Form and line design of the development shall minimize changes to the form of the natural landscape. Development shall borrow form and line from the landscape setting and blend with the form and line of the landscape setting. Design of the development shall avoid contrasting form and line that unnecessarily call attention to the development.

(2)    Color shall be found in the project’s surrounding landscape setting. Colors shall be chosen and repeated as needed to provide unity to the whole design.

(3)    Texture borrowed from the landscape setting shall be emphasized in the design of structures. Landscape textures are generally rough, irregular, and complex rather than smooth, regular, and uniform.

(4)    Design solutions shall be compatible with the natural scenic quality of the Gorge. Building materials shall be natural or natural appearing. Building materials such as concrete, steel, aluminum, or plastic shall use form, line, color and texture to harmonize with the natural environment. Design shall balance all design elements into a harmonious whole, using repetition of elements and blending of elements as necessary.

5.    Right-of-way vegetation shall be managed to minimize visual impact of clearing and other vegetation removal as seen from key viewing areas. Roadside vegetation management (vista clearing, planting, etc.) should enhance views from the highway.

6.    Screening from key viewing areas shall be encouraged for existing and required for new road maintenance, warehouse, and stockpile areas.

D.    SMA Guidelines for Areas Not Seen from Key Viewing Areas.

1.    Unless expressly exempted by other provisions in this chapter, colors of structures on sites not visible from key viewing areas shall be earth-tones found at the specific site. The specific colors or list of acceptable colors shall be approved as a condition of approval, drawing from other recommended palette of colors included in the Scenic Resources Implementation Handbook.

(Amended: Ord. 2006-05-04)