Chapter 14.25


14.25.010    Purpose.

14.25.020    Applicability.

14.25.030    Annual amendment schedule.

14.25.040    Application and docketing procedures.

14.25.050    Preliminary review – Determination of final docket.

14.25.060    Selection and decision criteria.

14.25.070    Staff report – SEPA review – Public comment – Transmission to Washington State Department of Commerce.

14.25.080    Final review and action.

14.25.010 Purpose.

The City of Covington comprehensive plan is a document which guides the nature and intensity of development in the City. An amendment to the comprehensive plan is a mechanism by which the City may periodically modify its land use, development or growth policies. This chapter establishes the procedures and criteria for amending the comprehensive plan, including provision for early and continuous opportunities for public participation in the amendment process. Comprehensive plan amendments are legislative decisions made by the City Council, and include public notice and public hearing requirements. (Ord. 24-08 § 2 (Exh. 1))

14.25.020 Applicability.

(1) The procedures and criteria of this chapter shall apply to:

(a) Proposed changes to the text of the comprehensive plan, including, but not limited to, goals, policies, objectives, principles, and standards;

(b) Proposed area-wide changes to the comprehensive plan future land use map;

(c) Proposed site-specific changes to the comprehensive plan future land use map;

(d) Proposed changes to development regulations and the official zoning map that are necessitated by a proposed comprehensive plan.

(2) Proposed changes to development regulations and the official zoning map that are not necessitated by a proposed comprehensive plan amendment are subject to the amendment process set forth in Chapter 14.27 CMC. (Ord. 24-08 § 2 (Exh. 1))

14.25.030 Annual amendment schedule.

(1) Annual Amendment Cycle – Concurrent Consideration. The comprehensive plan may be amended no more than once per year pursuant to the State of Washington Growth Management Act. Any contemplated amendments shall be considered concurrently so the cumulative effect of the various proposals can be ascertained. Proposed amendments may be considered at separate meetings or hearings, so long as the final action taken considers the cumulative effect of all the proposed amendments to the plan.

(2) Exceptions to Annual Cycle. Amendments may be considered more frequently than once per year in any of the following circumstances:

(a) Resolution of an emergency condition or situation. Council shall confirm the Director’s finding that such an emergency exists.

(b) Resolution of a decision by an administrative agency or court of competent jurisdiction.

(c) For any of the reasons specified in RCW 36.70A.130(2), as hereinafter amended.

(3) General Timeline. The annual amendment cycle shall consist of an application period of at least 60 days, a preliminary review period, and a final review period resulting in action by the City Council. The City shall establish a specific timeline and make that available to the public. (Ord. 24-08 § 2 (Exh. 1))

14.25.040 Application and docketing procedures.

(1) Who May Apply.

(a) Any person may apply for an area-wide map amendment or a text amendment to the comprehensive plan.

(b) A property owner or authorized agent of a property owner may apply for a site-specific amendment to the comprehensive plan.

(c) Any person or group may informally suggest a comprehensive plan amendment to the City Council and request their sponsorship for area-wide amendments. Agreement to sponsor such an amendment is at the discretion of the City Council.

(d) Amendment proposals submitted through the formal application process by private individuals or groups shall be deemed “privately initiated.” Privately initiated proposals shall not include those sponsored by the City Council.

(e) The City Council, Planning Commission, or Community Development Director may initiate consideration of an amendment to the comprehensive plan and submit it during the designated time period for applications. Such proposals shall be deemed “City-initiated.”

(2) Application. Each year the City shall designate a period of no less than 60 days during which it will officially accept applications for proposed comprehensive plan amendments. At least 30 days prior to that period, the City will make information on the comprehensive plan amendment process available to the public through a variety of media. The City shall establish additional application procedures and make those available to the public.

(3) Three-Year Limitation. A specific property, policy topic or land use issue shall not be the subject of a comprehensive plan amendment proposal initiated by the public and reviewed by the City more frequently than once every three years, measured by three annual amendment cycles. When new property is added to a previously submitted, substantially similar amendment proposal due to geographic expansion by the City, the following shall apply:

(a) If the original proposal was not selected for the final docket, the new proposal is not subject to the three-year limitation.

(b) If the original proposal was selected for the final docket, but was not adopted pursuant to final City Council review and action, the new proposal is subject to the three-year limitation.

(4) Fees. Applications submitted by private individuals or groups are subject to fees as set forth in the current fee resolution. Proposals for which an applicant pays a fee that are rejected in the initial review shall be subject to refund as set forth in the current fee resolution. Applicants may also be responsible for fees related to environmental analysis and review (SEPA process) if these are required by the nature of the amendment. No fees shall apply to City-initiated amendment proposals.

(5) Docketing. The City shall compile and maintain a list, known as a “docket,” of all City-initiated and privately initiated proposed comprehensive plan amendments. The list shall be organized as to amendment type and include a description of the amendment in nontechnical terms, as well as the name of the applicant and date of submission to the City. The preliminary docket shall be made available to the public for review and comment for at least 15 days prior to consideration by the Planning Commission. Written comments that are submitted by the end of the comment period shall be added to the preliminary docket. The final docket will be determined as described in CMC 14.25.050. (Ord. 24-08 § 2 (Exh. 1))

14.25.050 Preliminary review – Determination of final docket.

(1) Staff Evaluation. The Community Development Director shall conduct a brief initial evaluation of all privately initiated proposed comprehensive plan amendments to ascertain whether the proposals meet the preliminary review criteria in CMC 14.25.060 and to assess the extent of review that would be required under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). The Director shall make a recommendation to the Planning Commission as to which proposed amendments should be included in the final docket, along with any City-initiated proposed amendments.

(2) Joint Workshop. During each annual amendment cycle, the City Council and Planning Commission may, at the City Council’s discretion, hold a noticed joint workshop to serve as an informational meeting between the two governmental bodies.

(3) Planning Commission Hearing. The Planning Commission shall hold a noticed public hearing on selection of proposed amendments for the final docket.

(4) City Council Decision. The City Council shall consider the Planning Commission’s recommended final docket. Council may adopt the proposed final docket without a public hearing; however, in the event that a majority of the Council decides to add or subtract amendments, it shall first hold a public hearing. No additional amendments may be considered after Council adoption of the docket for that year, except as provided in CMC 14.25.030(2). (Ord. 24-08 § 2 (Exh. 1))

14.25.060 Selection and decision criteria.

Considering that the comprehensive plan was developed after significant study and public participation, the principles, goals, objectives, and policies contained therein shall be granted substantial weight when considering any proposed amendment. Therefore, the burden of proof for justifying a proposed amendment rests with the applicant. The City Council’s approval, modification, deferral, or denial of an amendment proposal shall be based on the following criteria:

(1) Proposed amendments that meet one of the following criteria may be included in the final docket:

(a) If the proposed amendment is site specific, the subject property is suitable for development in general conformance with adjacent land use and the surrounding development pattern, and with zoning standards under the potential zoning classifications.

(b) State law requires or a decision of a court or administrative agency has directed such a change.

(c) There exists an obvious technical error in the pertinent comprehensive plan provision.

(2) Proposed amendments that do not meet one of the criteria in subsection (1) of this section shall meet all of the following criteria:

(a) The amendment represents a matter appropriately addressed through the comprehensive plan, and the proposed amendment demonstrates a public benefit and enhances the public health, safety and welfare of the City.

(b) The amendment is in compliance with the three-year limitation rules as specified in CMC 14.25.040(3).

(c) The amendment does not raise policy or land use issues that are more appropriately addressed by an ongoing work program approved by the City Council.

(d) The proposed amendment addresses significantly changed conditions since the last time the pertinent comprehensive plan map or text was amended. “Significantly changed conditions” are those resulting from unanticipated consequences of an adopted policy, or changed conditions on the subject property or its surrounding area, or changes related to the pertinent comprehensive plan map or text, where such change has implications of a magnitude that need to be addressed for the comprehensive plan to function as an integrated whole.

(e) The proposed amendment is consistent with the comprehensive plan and other goals and policies of the City, the Countywide planning policies, the Growth Management Act, other State or Federal law, and the Washington Administrative Code and other applicable law. (Ord. 24-08 § 2 (Exh. 1))

14.25.070 Staff report – SEPA review – Public comment – Transmission to Washington State Department of Commerce.

Following the City Council’s adoption of the comprehensive plan amendment final docket, the Community Development Department shall complete the following:

(1) Staff Report. The Director shall prepare a staff report on the proposed amendments to be presented to the Planning Commission for final review and recommendation. The staff report should contain:

(a) Findings of fact;

(b) An evaluation as to how the amendments meet the prescribed criteria;

(c) A summary of public comment on the amendments;

(d) A description of any alternatives or proposed changes to the amendments; and

(e) Any development regulations or zoning map amendments prepared in order to implement the amendments.

(2) SEPA Review. The Director or SEPA official shall review the proposed amendments and determine if there is a need for a SEPA checklist and SEPA determination. Applicants will be notified if a SEPA review is required and will be responsible for any fees associated with SEPA analysis.

(3) Public Participation. The City shall provide notice and opportunity for public comment, as deemed appropriate given the nature of the proposed amendments and consistent with RCW 36.70A.140, as hereinafter amended.

(4) Transmission to Washington State Department of Commerce. The Director shall transmit the proposed amendments to the Washington State Department of Commerce at least 60 days prior to the expected date of final City Council action on the proposed amendment as consistent with Chapter 36.70A RCW, as hereinafter amended. (Ord. 24-08 § 2 (Exh. 1))

14.25.080 Final review and action.

(1) Planning Commission Hearing and Recommendation. All proposed amendments on the final docket shall first be considered by the Planning Commission, which shall make a recommendation to the City Council after holding at least one open record public hearing.

(2) City Council Action. The City Council shall consider the comprehensive plan amendments as recommended by the Planning Commission using the criteria established in CMC 14.25.060. If there are substantial changes to the proposed amendment after the public hearing by the Planning Commission, a second public hearing before City Council is required. If there are not substantial changes, City Council may choose whether or not to hold another public hearing. The City shall transmit a copy of the comprehensive plan and development regulation amendments to Washington State Department of Commerce within 10 days of the City Council’s final adoption. (Ord. 24-08 § 2 (Exh. 1))