Chapter 15.270
ENVIRONMENTAL PROCEDURES –

STATE ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT (SEPA)

Sections:

15.270.010    Authority.

15.270.020    Purpose.

15.270.030    Conflicts.

15.270.040    Scope and policy.

15.270.050    Definitions.

15.270.060    Purpose and general requirements.

15.270.070    Planned actions.

15.270.080    Integration with Model Toxics Control Act.

15.270.090    Designation of responsible official.

15.270.100    Lead agency determination and responsibilities – Adoption by reference.

15.270.110    Categorical exemptions – Adoption by reference.

15.270.120    Threshold determinations – Adoption by reference.

15.270.130    Environmental impact statements (EIS) and other environmental documents.

15.270.140    Public notice and comments – Adoption by reference.

15.270.150    Designation of official to perform consulted agency responsibilities.

15.270.160    Responsibility as consulted agency.

15.270.170    Using existing environmental documents – Adoption by reference.

15.270.180    SEPA decisions – Adoption by reference.

15.270.190    SEPA/GMA integration.

15.270.200    Appeals.

15.270.210    Notice of action.

15.270.220    Forms – Adoption by reference.

15.270.010 Authority.

This chapter is adopted under the authority of the State Environmental Policy Act (“SEPA”), RCW 43.21C.120, and the SEPA rules, WAC 197-11-904. This chapter contains the city’s SEPA procedures and policies. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.270.020 Purpose.

The purposes of this chapter are to adopt the uniform requirements of Chapter 197-11 WAC and to establish specific local procedures and policies where appropriate in order to perform environmental review and comply with SEPA. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.270.030 Conflicts.

Any irreconcilable conflict between this chapter, Chapter 197-11 WAC, and/or Chapter 43.21C RCW shall be resolved in favor of the provision that is most protective of the environment and meets the minimum standards of Chapter 197-11 WAC. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.270.040 Scope and policy.

The city of Ellensburg adopts by reference WAC 197-11-030, as now existing or hereinafter amended, subject to the following:

A.    Under WAC 197-11-030(1) and (2), the terms “agency” and “agencies” shall include the city of Ellensburg and its respective departments.

B.    Under WAC 197-11-030(2)(a), the text is revised to interpret and administer the policies, regulations, and laws of the state of Washington and applicable ordinances and resolutions of the city of Ellensburg in accordance with the policies set forth in Chapter 43.21C RCW and Chapter 197-11 WAC.

C.    The city establishes these procedures to implement the State Environmental Policy Act, herein referred to as “SEPA,” Chapter 43.21C RCW, consistent with those rules under Chapter 197-11 WAC. The procedures are promulgated under WAC 197-11-020(1), which states: “Each agency must have its own SEPA procedures consistent with” Chapter 197-11 WAC and Chapter 43.21C RCW. Consistent with WAC 197-11-020(3), these provisions, Chapter 197-11 WAC, and Chapter 43.21C RCW, must be read together as a whole to comply with the spirit and letter of the law. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.270.050 Definitions.

The city adopts by reference WAC 197-11-040, 197-11-220 and 197-11-700 through 197-11-799, as now existing or hereafter amended, subject to the following:

A.    Terms defined under Chapter 15.130 ECC shall also apply to this chapter.

B.    Where a conflict exists between those terms under Chapter 15.130 ECC and terms under WAC 197-11-040, 197-11-220, and 197-11-700 through 197-11-799, the more specific definition that meets the minimum standards and spirit of Chapter 197-11 WAC shall apply. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.270.060 Purpose and general requirements.

The city adopts by reference WAC 197-11-055 through 197-11-158, 197-11-902 through 197-11-906, and 197-11-914 through 197-11-916, as now existing or hereafter amended, subject to the following:

A.    Analyzing Similar Actions in a Single Document. The city adopts the optional provision of WAC 197-11-060(3)(c).

B.    Consolidated Review. Except as otherwise exempted, environmental review under this chapter and development proposal review under this title shall be consolidated as specified in ECC 15.210.020.

C.    Time Guidelines. Under WAC 197-11-055(2)(b), the responsible official will make a threshold determination within 90 days of determining that a completed application has been submitted, consistent with WAC 197-11-055(2)(d), subject to:

1.    The calculation of the number of days in subsection (C)(2) of this section shall not include those days between the mailing of any request for additional information and the re-submittal of such requested information.

2.    The responsible official shall not make a threshold determination when there is not adequate information to make a threshold determination within 90 days. When there is not adequate information to make a determination at the end of 90 days, the responsible official shall notify the applicant in writing regarding the information required to make a threshold determination.

3.    Content of SEPA Checklist – Responsibility. The applicant shall prepare the initial environmental checklist, unless the responsible official specifically elects to prepare the checklist. The responsible official shall make a reasonable effort to verify the information in the checklist and supporting documentation and shall have the authority to determine the final content of the checklist.

4.    Additional Information for SEPA Checklist – Timelines. The responsible official may set reasonable deadlines for the submittal of information, studies, or documents that are necessary for, or subsequent to, threshold determinations. Unless an extension is requested in writing and approved, failure to meet such deadlines shall cause the application to be deemed withdrawn.

D.    Environmental Review Costs. The applicant shall pay all costs related to environmental review in accordance with the chapter, including compliance with public notice requirements. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.270.070 Planned actions.

The city adopts by reference the following sections of Chapter 197-11 WAC, as now existing or hereafter amended, as supplemented in this chapter:

197-11-164    Planned actions – Definitions and criteria.

197-11-168    Ordinances or resolutions designating planned actions – Procedures for adoption.

197-11-172    Planned actions – Project review.

Planned actions allowed under this chapter shall also comply with the permit processes and procedures established in Division II. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.270.080 Integration with Model Toxics Control Act.

The city adopts by reference the following sections of Chapter 197-11 WAC, as now existing or hereafter amended, as supplemented in this chapter:

197-11-250    SEPA/Model Toxics Control Act integration.

197-11-253    SEPA lead agency for MTCA actions.

197-11-256    Preliminary evaluation.

197-11-259    Determination of nonsignificance for MTCA remedial action.

197-11-262    Determination of significance and EIS for MTCA remedial actions.

197-11-265    Early scoping for MTCA remedial actions.

197-11-268    MTCA interim actions.

[Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.270.090 Designation of responsible official.

The city adopts by reference WAC 197-11-910, as now existing or hereafter amended, as supplemented in this chapter.

A.    For those proposals for which the city is a lead agency, the responsible official shall be the director.

B.    For all proposals for which the city is a lead agency, the responsible official shall make the threshold determination, supervise scoping and preparation of any required EIS, and perform all other functions assigned to the lead agency or responsible official by those sections of the SEPA rules that have been adopted by reference. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.270.100 Lead agency determination and responsibilities – Adoption by reference.

The city adopts by reference the following sections of Chapter 197-11 WAC, as now existing or hereafter amended, as supplemented in this chapter:

197-11-050    Lead agency.

197-11-920    Agencies with environmental expertise.

197-11-922    Lead agency rules.

197-11-924    Determining the lead agency.

197-11-926    Lead agency for governmental proposals.

197-11-928    Lead agency for public and private proposals.

197-11-930    Lead agency for private projects with one agency with jurisdiction.

197-11-932    Lead agency for private projects requiring licenses from more than one agency, when one of the agencies is a county/city.

197-11-934    Lead agency for private projects requiring licenses from a local agency, not a county/city, and/or more state agencies.

197-11-936    Lead agency for private projects requiring licenses from more than one state agency.

197-11-938    Lead agencies for specific proposals.

197-11-940    Transfer of lead agency status to a state agency.

197-11-942    Agreements on lead agency status.

197-11-944    Agreements on division of lead agency duties.

197-11-946    DOE resolution of lead agency disputes.

197-11-948    Assumption of lead agency status.

A.    The responsible official shall determine the lead agency for any application for or initiation of a proposal that involves a nonexempt action, as provided in WAC 197-11-050, unless the lead agency has been previously determined or unless another agency is in the process of determining the lead agency.

B.    When the city is the lead agency for a proposal, the responsible official shall supervise compliance with the necessary threshold determination requirements, and if an EIS is necessary, shall supervise the preparation of the EIS. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.270.110 Categorical exemptions – Adoption by reference.

A.    The city adopts by reference the following sections of Chapter 197-11 WAC, as now existing or hereafter amended, as supplemented in this chapter:

197-11-305    Categorical exemptions.

197-11-800    Categorical exemptions. (Except as noted in subsection (B) of this section.)

197-11-880    Emergencies.

197-11-890    Petitioning DOE to change exemptions.

B.    The city establishes the following exempt levels for minor new construction under WAC 197-11-800(1)(b):

1.    Construction or location of up to nine detached single-family dwelling units (WAC 197-11-800(1)(b)(i).

2.    Agricultural structures including construction of a barn, loafing shed, farm equipment storage building, produce storage or packing structure, or similar agriculture structure, covering up to 10,000 square feet and to be used only by the property owner or his or her agent in the conduct of farming the property. This exemption shall not apply to feed lots (WAC 197-11-800(1)(b)(ii).

3.    Construction of an office, school, commercial, recreational, service or storage building, up to 12,000 square feet and associated parking facilities designed for up to 20 automobiles (WAC 197-11-800(1)(b)(iii).

4.    Parking lots for 20 or fewer automobiles that are not associated with a structure.

5.    Any fill or excavation of up to 200 cubic yards throughout the lifetime of the fill or excavation and any excavation, fill, or grading necessary for an exempt project listed in WAC 197-11-800(1)(b)(i), (ii), (iii), and (iv). [Ord. 4807 § 37, 2018; Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.270.120 Threshold determinations – Adoption by reference.

The city adopts by reference the following sections of Chapter 197-11 WAC, as now existing or hereafter amended, as supplemented in this chapter:

197-11-300    Purpose of this part.

197-11-310    Threshold determination required.

197-11-315    Environmental checklist.

197-11-330    Threshold determination process.

197-11-335    Additional information.

197-11-340    Determination of nonsignificance (DNS).

197-11-350    Mitigated DNS.

197-11-355    Optional DNS process.

197-11-360    Determination of significance (DS)/initiation of scoping.

197-11-390    Effect of threshold determination.

A.    Pre-Threshold Determination Comment Period. Prior to issuance of a threshold determination, the city shall provide a 14-calendar-day pre-threshold determination comment period, unless the city has chosen to use the optional DNS process established in WAC 197-11-355, in which case there shall be no pre-threshold determination comment period and the threshold determination process shall be as established in WAC 197-11-310 through 197-11-390. The pre-threshold determination comment period process is as follows:

1.    Public notice of the project application and completed SEPA checklist and the opportunity to provide pre-threshold determination comments shall be provided in accordance with the Type II permit public notice requirements established in ECC 15.210.050 and 15.220.040 and WAC 197-11-510 and 197-11-340(b) except that the requirement to mail notice to property owners within 300 feet of the project shall not be required for the pre-threshold determination notice unless the underlying permit also requires such mailed notice. The notice shall include the pre-threshold comment period deadline and shall advise that additional comment opportunities may exist at the time a threshold determination is issued.

2.    The pre-threshold determination comment period shall run for 14 calendar days beginning on the day following the date that public notice was provided pursuant to subsection (A)(1) of this section.

3.    Comments must be made in writing and must be submitted to the responsible official prior to the expiration of that 14-calendar-day comment period.

4.    Prior to making the threshold determination, the responsible official may request that the applicant provide written responses to any timely submitted comments, and all timely submitted comments and applicant responses shall be included in the SEPA record and considered by the responsible official in making the threshold determination.

B.    Mitigated Determination of Nonsignificance. Pursuant to WAC 197-11-350, the responsible official may issue a DNS which may include conditions attached to the proposal by the responsible official, or may issue a DNS which includes conditions based on changes to, or clarifications of, the proposal that have been made by the applicant in writing prior to issuance of the threshold determination. The applicant’s proposed mitigation measures (clarifications, changes or conditions) must be in writing and must be specific.

C.    Public Notice. Public notice of the threshold determination shall be provided as required pursuant to ECC 15.210.050 and 15.220.040 and WAC 197-11-340, 197-11-355, and 197-11-360.

D.    Environmental Checklist.

1.    A completed environmental checklist, a completed critical area information form and/or critical area report deemed necessary pursuant to Division VI shall be filed at the same time as an application for a development proposal or other approval not exempted by this chapter. The checklist shall be in the form of WAC 197-11-960 with such additions that may be required by the responsible official in accordance with WAC 197-11-906(4) and this chapter.

2.    A checklist is not needed if the responsible official determines that one of the following applies: an EIS is required; SEPA compliance has been completed; SEPA compliance has been initiated by another agency.

3.    The responsible official shall use the environmental checklist to determine the lead agency. If the city is the lead agency, information provided in the environmental checklist, critical area information form or critical area report and/or landmark certificate of appropriateness application shall assist the responsible official in making a threshold determination.

4.    For private proposals, the applicant is required to complete the environmental checklist, critical area information form and/or critical area report. The responsible official may provide assistance as necessary. For city proposals, the department initiating the proposal shall complete the environmental checklist, critical area information form and/or critical area report for that proposal.

5.    The responsible official may decide to annotate the environmental checklist for a private proposal if the responsible official has relevant information or if the applicant has provided incomplete or inaccurate information. [Ord. 4807 § 38, 2018; Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.270.130 Environmental impact statements (EIS) and other environmental documents.

The city adopts by reference the following sections of Chapter 197-11 WAC, as now existing or hereafter amended, as supplemented in this chapter:

197-11-400    Purpose of EIS.

197-11-402    General requirements.

197-11-405    EIS types.

197-11-406    EIS timing.

197-11-408    Scoping.

197-11-410    Expanded scoping.

197-11-420    EIS preparation.

197-11-425    Style and size.

197-11-430    Format.

197-11-435    Cover letter or memo.

197-11-440    EIS contents.

197-11-442    Contents of EIS on nonproject proposals.

197-11-443    EIS contents when prior nonproject EIS.

197-11-444    Elements of the environment.

197-11-448    Relationship of EIS to other considerations.

197-11-450    Cost-benefit analysis.

197-11-455    Issuance of DEIS.

197-11-460    Issuance of FEIS.

A.    Pursuant to WAC 197-11-408(2)(a), all comments on a DS and scoping notices shall be in writing, except where a public meeting on EIS scoping occurs pursuant to WAC 197-11-410(1)(b).

B.    Pursuant to WAC 197-11-420, 197-11-620, and 197-11-625, the responsible official shall be responsible for preparation and content of an EIS and other environmental documents. The responsible official shall contract with consultants, as necessary, for the preparation of environmental documents and EISs. The responsible official may consider the opinion of the applicant regarding the qualifications of the consultant, but the responsible official shall retain sole authority for selecting persons or firms to author, co-author, provide special services or otherwise participate in the preparation of required environmental documents.

C.    Consultants or subconsultants contracted by the city to prepare environmental documents for a private development proposal:

1.    Shall not act as agents for the applicant in preparation or acquisition of associated underlying permits or actions;

2.    Shall not have a financial interest in the proposal for which the environmental documents are being prepared; and

3.    Shall not perform any work nor provide any services for the applicant in connection with or related to the proposal.

D.    The responsible official may include additional elements as part of the environment for the purpose of a complete EIS analysis; however, such additional elements shall not add to the criteria for threshold determinations or perform any other function or purpose under this chapter unless such elements otherwise fall within the scope of this chapter. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.270.140 Public notice and comments – Adoption by reference.

The city adopts by reference the following sections of Chapter 197-11 WAC, as now existing or hereafter amended, as supplemented in this chapter:

197-11-500    Purpose of this part.

197-11-502    Inviting comment.

197-11-504    Availability and cost of environmental documents.

197-11-508    SEPA register.

197-11-535    Public hearings and meetings.

197-11-545    Effect of no comment.

197-11-550    Specificity of comments.

197-11-560    FEIS response to comments.

197-11-570    Consulted agency costs to assist lead agency.

A.    Whenever the city issues a DNS under WAC 197-11-340(2) or a MDNS under WAC 197-11-350 or a DS under WAC 197-11-360(3), the city shall give public notice as follows:

1.    If public notice is required for a nonexempt permit or approval, the notice shall state whether a DNS, MDNS or DS has been issued and when comments are due;

2.    If no public notice is required for the permit or approval, the city shall give notice of the DNS, MDNS or DS by:

a.    Posting the property, for a site-specific proposal;

b.    Publishing notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the county, city or general area where the proposal is located; and

c.    Notifying public or private groups which have expressed interest in a certain proposal or in the type of proposal being considered;

3.    When the city issues a DS under WAC 197-11-360(3), the city shall state the scoping procedure for the proposal in the DS as required in WAC 197-11-408 and in the public notice;

4.    If an environmental document is issued concurrently with the notice of application, the public notice requirements for the notice of application in RCW 36.70B.110(4) will suffice to meet the SEPA public notice requirements in WAC 197-11-510(1).

B.    If a DNS is issued using the optional DNS process in WAC 197-11-355, the public notice requirements for a notice of application in RCW 36.70B.110(4) as supplemented by the requirements in WAC 197-11-355 will suffice to meet the SEPA public notice requirements in WAC 197-11-510(1)(b).

C.    Whenever the city issues a DEIS under WAC 197-11-455(5) or a SEIS under WAC 197-11-620, notice of the availability of those documents shall be given by indicating the availability of the DEIS in any public notice required for a nonexempt license, and:

1.    Publishing notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the county, city or general area where the proposal is located; and

2.    Notifying public or private groups which have expressed interest in a certain proposal or in the type of proposal being considered;

D.    Whenever possible, the city shall integrate the public notice required under this section with existing notice procedures for the city’s nonexempt permit(s) or approval(s) required for the proposal as established in ECC 15.210.050 and 15.220.040.

E.    The city may charge the applicant a reasonable fee to cover the required public notice expenses for the SEPA review of the applicant’s proposal. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.270.150 Designation of official to perform consulted agency responsibilities.

The city adopts by reference WAC 197-11-910, as now existing or hereafter amended, as supplemented in this chapter:

A.    The responsible official shall be responsible for preparation of written comments for the city in response to a consultation request pertaining to a threshold determination or the scoping and reviewing of a draft EIS.

B.    The responsible official shall be responsible for the city’s compliance with WAC 197-11-550 and 197-11-912 whenever the city is a consulted agency. The responsible official is authorized to develop operating procedures that will ensure that responses to consultation requests are prepared in a timely fashion and include data from appropriate departments of the city.

C.    The responsible official shall be responsible for reviewing all SEPA determinations made by Kittitas County. If it is the decision by the responsible official that any such SEPA determination substantially impacts the interests of the city, a response shall be forwarded to Kittitas County on behalf of the city. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.270.160 Responsibility as consulted agency.

The city adopts by reference WAC 197-11-912, as now existing or hereafter amended, as supplemented in this chapter. Pursuant to WAC 197-11-912, all requests from other agencies that the city consults on threshold investigations, the scope process, EISs or other environmental documents shall be submitted to the department of community development. The department of community development shall be responsible for coordination with affected city departments and for compiling and transmitting the city’s response to such requests for consultation. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.270.170 Using existing environmental documents – Adoption by reference.

The city adopts by reference WAC 197-11-600 through 197-11-640, as now existing or hereafter amended, by reference. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.270.180 SEPA decisions – Adoption by reference.

The city adopts by reference the following sections of Chapter 197-11 WAC, as now existing or hereafter amended, as supplemented in this chapter:

197-11-650    Purpose of this part.

197-11-655    Implementation.

197-11-660    Substantive authority and mitigation.

A.    The substantive authority set forth in this section is supplemental to all other authorities the city may possess under federal, state, regional and local law.

B.    The city may approve, condition, restrict, limit, modify or deny a development proposal under this chapter based on the following considerations:

1.    The conditions, restrictions or limitations are reasonably required to mitigate or prevent specific probable adverse environmental impacts identified in analytical documents prepared pursuant to this chapter or this title.

2.    The conditions, restrictions or limitations are reasonably related to the services, demands, or other impacts caused or created by the development proposal, will mitigate or avoid the adverse impacts, and are capable of being accomplished.

3.    The conditions, restrictions or limitations are based on one or more of the policies or goals identified in the comprehensive plan, other adopted city policies or the Ellensburg Municipal Code and cited in the decision document.

4.    The policies or goals on which the conditions, restrictions or limitations are based were in effect when the DNS, MDNS or EIS was issued.

5.    The conditions, restrictions or limitations are set forth in a written decision document.

6.    Whether other local, state or federal requirements or mitigation measures applied to the development proposal are sufficient to mitigate an identified significant environmental impact.

C.    In addition to the considerations set forth above (as may be applicable to a proposal), no development proposal shall be denied under this chapter unless:

1.    A finding is made that the proposal would result in probable significant adverse environmental impacts that are identified in a final EIS or final supplemental EIS; and

2.    A finding is made that there are no reasonable mitigation measures that are sufficient to mitigate the identified impacts.

D.    Applicants may propose voluntary mitigation or contributions in addition to any mitigation that may be required under this chapter. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.270.190 SEPA/GMA integration.

The city adopts by reference WAC 197-11-210 through 197-11-235, as now existing or hereinafter amended as supplemented in this chapter. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.270.200 Appeals.

A.    The city adopts by reference WAC 197-11-680, as now existing or hereafter amended, as supplemented in this chapter.

B.    Any interested person may appeal a threshold determination or the adequacy of a final EIS pursuant to the procedures set forth in this section. No other SEPA appeal shall be allowed. Appeals shall be as set out in Chapter 15.230 ECC.

C.    All appeals filed pursuant to this section shall comply with the requirements of Chapter 15.230 ECC. The procedural determination of the responsible official shall carry substantial weight in every appeal proceeding. The appeal provided by this section shall be a necessary prerequisite to standing to file any judicial appeal arising under this chapter.

D.    All appeals filed pursuant to this section shall be consolidated with the open record hearing on the underlying proposal except those listed as exempt from that requirement in RCW 43.21C.075(3)(b). [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.270.210 Notice of action.

A.    The city, applicant for, or proponent of, an action may publish a notice of action pursuant to RCW 43.21C.080 for any action.

B.    The form of the notice shall be substantially in the form provided in WAC 197-11-990. The notice shall be published by the city clerk, applicant or proponent pursuant to RCW 43.21C.080.

C.    The filing of a notice of action officially starts the time period allowed for filing a judicial appeal of any decision made under this chapter. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.270.220 Forms – Adoption by reference.

The city adopts by reference the following forms and sections of Chapter 197-11 WAC, as now existing or hereafter amended:

197-11-960    Environmental checklist.

197-11-965    Adoption notice.

197-11-970    Determination of nonsignificance (DNS).

197-11-980    Determination of significance (DS) and scoping notice.

197-11-985    Notice of assumption of lead agency status.

197-11-990    Notice of action.

[Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]