Chapter 15.280
ELLENSBURG LANDMARKS REGISTER AND PROCEDURES

Sections:

15.280.010    Short title.

15.280.020    Declaration of purpose.

15.280.030    Creation of Ellensburg landmarks and design commission.

15.280.040    Members, qualifications and terms.

15.280.050    Powers and duties.

15.280.060    Rules, officers and records.

15.280.070    Landmarks and design commission staff.

15.280.080    Ellensburg landmarks register.

15.280.090    Review of changes to landmarks register properties.

15.280.100    Evaluation of economic impact.

15.280.110    Special valuation for historic properties.

15.280.010 Short title.

The following sections shall be known and may be cited as the “landmarks and design ordinance” of the city of Ellensburg. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.280.020 Declaration of purpose.

This chapter is intended to identify, evaluate, designate, protect, enhance, and perpetuate historic places within the city of Ellensburg in order to:

A.    Safeguard the heritage of the city as represented by those buildings, districts, objects, sites, and structures which reflect significant elements of Ellensburg’s history;

B.    Foster civic pride in the beauty and accomplishments of the past;

C.    Stabilize and improve the economic vitality of buildings, neighborhoods, and the community as a whole;

D.    Strengthen the city’s tourism industry by enhancing its historic character;

E.    Facilitate early resolution of conflicts between preservation of historic resources and alternative land uses;

F.    Protect property values and public and private investment in the existing built environment;

G.    Provide incentives to property owners for the acquisition, preservation, restoration, redevelopment, and continued use of outstanding historic properties; and

H.    Encourage the rehabilitation of eligible historic properties through the “special valuation for improvements to historic property” program, a property tax incentive, as provided in Chapter 84.26 RCW. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.280.030 Creation of Ellensburg landmarks and design commission.

There is hereby created an Ellensburg landmarks and design commission which shall have the powers, duties and functions provided in this chapter. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.280.040 Members, qualifications and terms.

A.    The Ellensburg landmarks and design commission shall consist of seven members appointed by a majority of the Ellensburg city council. A majority of members so appointed shall be residents of the city of Ellensburg.

B.    All members of the commission shall have demonstrated an active interest in historic preservation and design review.

C.    The commission shall include at least two owners of property from within the downtown and First Railroad Addition historic districts, as defined in ECC 15.300.060(B) and (C) or a property individually listed on the Ellensburg landmarks register. One member shall be a member of the Ellensburg Downtown Association (EDA) for a term of four years. One member shall be a general at-large position. The commission shall include at least three professionals (active or retired) who work or worked among the related fields of history, architecture, construction, landscape design, historic preservation, planning, anthropology, archaeology, cultural geography, American studies, land use law, or real estate.

D.    A commission action that would otherwise be valid shall not be rendered invalid by the temporary vacancy of one or all of the professional positions, unless the commission action is related to meeting certified local government (CLG) responsibilities cited in the certification agreement between the Ellensburg city council and the State Historic Preservation Officer.

E.    Appointment of new members to the commission shall be for a period of four years. Vacancies shall be filled by the Ellensburg city council for any unexpired term in the same manner as the original appointment. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.280.050 Powers and duties.

The primary role of the Ellensburg landmarks and design commission is twofold: historic landmarks preservation and design review.

A.    Historic Landmarks Preservation. In the area of historic landmarks preservation, the primary role of the Ellensburg landmarks and design commission is to identify and actively encourage the conservation of Ellensburg’s historic resources through a register of landmarks and historic resources and a review of proposed changes to landmarks; to raise community awareness of Ellensburg’s history and built environment; and to serve as the city’s primary resource in matters of heritage, historic planning, and preservation. In carrying out these responsibilities, the Ellensburg landmarks and design commission shall engage in the following:

1.    Conduct and maintain a comprehensive Ellensburg historic resource inventory; publicize and periodically update inventory findings. Properties included in the inventory shall be noted on official zoning records with an “HI” (for historic inventory). This notation shall not modify the underlying zone classification;

2.    Initiate and maintain the Ellensburg landmarks register. This official register shall be compiled of buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts evaluated by the commission as possessing historic significance worthy of recognition by the city of Ellensburg and worthy of preservation;

3.    Review citizen nominations to the Ellensburg landmarks register according to evaluation criteria set forth in ECC 15.280.080, and adopt standards in its rules to guide this review;

4.    Develop incentive programs to assist landmark owners with the use, reuse, and redevelopment of historic buildings. Such incentives may include facade design assistance, revolving loan funds, and tax or building code relief;

5.    Review proposals to alter or demolish landmarks, landmark sites, or landmark districts listed in the register as provided in ECC 15.280.090; and adopt standards in its rules to guide this review and the issuance of certificates of appropriateness;

6.    Conduct all commission meetings in compliance with Chapter 42.30 RCW, Open Public Meetings Act, provide for adequate public participation, and adopt standards in its rules to guide this action;

7.    Submit nominations to the Washington Heritage Register and the National Register of Historic Places and adopt standards in its rules to guide this action;

8.    Through staff, provide review and comment to the department of community development on development proposals affecting historic resources within the boundaries of the city of Ellensburg;

9.    Provide review and comment to the Ellensburg city council on land use planning, housing, transportation, municipal improvements, and other activities proposed by any agency of the city of Ellensburg, Kittitas County, Washington State, or the federal government, as they relate to the historic resources of Ellensburg;

10.    Advise the Ellensburg city council generally on matters of historic preservation and heritage tourism, and perform other related functions as assigned by the Ellensburg city council;

11.    Investigate and report to the Ellensburg city council on current federal, state, local and private funding sources available to promote public and private historic preservation projects and heritage tourism in the city of Ellensburg;

12.    Establish working liaisons with existing nonprofit organizations and with federal, state, and local government entities to further historic preservation objectives in Ellensburg;

13.    Provide current information to property owners on techniques and appropriate treatments for maintaining and rehabilitating historic properties. This may take the form of pamphlets, newsletters, workshops, or similar activities;

14.    Compile a list of historic preservation consultants, building movers, and available vacant lots to assist in avoiding demolition of historic buildings. Consider proposing a property maintenance ordinance to assist with mothballing vacant historic buildings;

15.    Conduct educational and interpretive programs pertaining to Ellensburg’s historic resources;

16.    Serve as the local review board for special valuation as provided under Chapter 84.26 RCW and ECC 15.280.110; and

17.    Administer the historic preservation grant program in accordance with procedures authorized and approved by the city council.

B.    Design Review. In the area of design review, the primary role of the Ellensburg landmarks and design commission is to review and make the decision on modifications (including signage) or demolitions of a registered landmark or any property located within a landmark district. See ECC 15.280.090 for the design review process for landmark property/district related projects. [Ord. 4807 § 39, 2018; Ord. 4712 § 2, 2015; Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.280.060 Rules, officers and records.

The landmarks and design commission shall establish and adopt its own rules of procedure, and shall select from among its membership a chairperson and such other officers as may be necessary to conduct the landmarks and design commission’s business. A majority of the membership will constitute a quorum for the purpose of transacting business. Action by the landmarks and design commission shall be by majority vote. A tie vote on a motion to approve shall constitute a failure of the motion and denial of the application. All meetings shall be open to the public and the landmarks and design commission shall keep minutes of its proceedings, and the minutes and a copy of its adopted rules shall be kept on file in the office of the city clerk and be open to inspection by the public. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.280.070 Landmarks and design commission staff.

Assistance to the landmarks and design commission shall be provided by the department of community development, which shall assign a professionally qualified member of the department’s staff, or a qualified consultant, to act as a preservation planner to assist the landmarks and design commission in fulfilling its historic landmarks preservation duties. Under direction of the landmarks and design commission, the preservation planner shall be the custodian of the landmarks and design commission’s historic landmarks records. The preservation planner shall conduct official correspondence, assist in organizing the landmarks and design commission, and carry out the technical work of the landmarks and design commission in all historic landmarks preservation activities. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.280.080 Ellensburg landmarks register.

There is hereby created an Ellensburg landmarks register.

A.    Criteria for Eligibility to the Register. Any building, structure, site, object, or district may be designated for listing in the Ellensburg landmarks register if it is significantly associated with the settlement, development, architecture, politics, economy, social history, archaeology, or cultural heritage of the community; retains integrity of location, setting, design, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association; is at least 50 years old; and if it meets at least one of the following criteria:

1.    Is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of local, state, or national history;

2.    Is closely linked with the life of a person important in the history of the city, state, or nation;

3.    Embodies the distinctive visual characteristics of an architectural type, period, style, or method of construction;

4.    Is an outstanding work of a designer, builder, or architect;

5.    Has yielded, or may be likely to yield, important archaeological information related to history or prehistory; and/or

6.    Because of prominent spatial location, contrasts of siting, age, or scale, it is an easily identifiable visual feature of its neighborhood and contributes to the distinctive identity of that neighborhood.

B.    Process for Designating Properties to the Landmarks Register (a Type II Review Process Exception).

1.    Any person may nominate a building, structure, site, object, or district for inclusion in the Ellensburg landmarks register. Members of the landmarks and design commission or the landmarks and design commission as a whole may generate nominations. In its designation program, the landmarks and design commission shall consider the Ellensburg historic resource inventory and the Ellensburg comprehensive plan. Owner(s’) consent is required before the landmarks and design commission shall consider the nomination.

2.    Nominations shall be made on forms provided by the landmarks and design commission. Completed nominations received by the commission will be scheduled for review within 15 working days of receipt.

3.    The landmarks and design commission shall consider the merits of the nomination at a public hearing, in accordance with the criteria for eligibility set forth in subsection (A) of this section, and according to the nomination review standards established in rules.

4.    Adequate notice shall be given to the general public, the property owner(s), the author of the nomination, and lessees, if any, prior to the public hearing. Such notice shall include publication in a newspaper of general circulation in Ellensburg.

5.    Within 10 days of holding the public hearing, the landmarks and design commission shall render a decision on whether a nominated property meets the criteria set forth in subsection (A) of this section. If the finding is that the nominated property meets the criteria set forth in subsection (A) of this section, the property shall be officially listed as a landmark, landmark site, or landmark district or part thereof. Notice of the decision shall be sent to the property owner(s), the author of the nomination, any occupants of the building, the preservation planner, and the Ellensburg city council. If the listed property is adjacent to the boundary of an existing landmark district, said boundary shall be amended accordingly. If the listed property will create a new landmark district, then the listed area shall be designated on the official zoning map with the notation “LR” to indicate the district is on the landmarks register. An isolated property shall be designated on the official zoning map with the notation “LR” to indicate the property is on the landmarks register.

6.    For individual landmark designations, the landmarks and design commission shall include in its designation the applicable criteria on which the listing is based, a legal description of the property, and a list of all significant features that contribute to its historic character.

7.    For landmark district designations, the landmarks and design commission shall include in its designation recommendation the applicable criteria, a description of the boundaries of the district, and a list of all buildings, structures, sites, and objects which contribute to its historic character.

8.    Whenever the landmarks and design commission rejects the nomination of all or any part of a property, the commission shall, within 10 working days, issue a written decision including reasons supporting the determination that the criteria set forth in subsection (A) of this section have not been met. Notice of the decision shall be sent to the property owner(s), author of the nomination, any lessees, the preservation planner, and the Ellensburg city council.

9.    The commission’s decision on a COA may be appealed to the city council in a closed record appeal hearing.

10.    Properties listed in the Ellensburg landmarks register shall be recorded on official zoning records with an “LR” (for landmarks register). This designation shall not change or modify the underlying zone classification.

C.    Downtown and Residential Historic Districts.

1.    The existing downtown historic district, defined in ECC 15.300.060(B) and hereafter known as the “downtown historic district,” and the existing residential historic district, defined in ECC 15.300.060(C) and hereafter known as the “First Railroad Addition historic district,” are hereby designated as Ellensburg landmark districts. The geographic area encompassed by each district is identified on the map attached to the ordinance codified in this chapter and made a part of this chapter by reference.

2.    The commission shall compile existing historical data and property records, prepare Ellensburg landmarks register nomination forms, and create complete landmark files for each of the landmark districts.

3.    The provisions of ECC 15.280.090 and 15.280.100 shall hereafter apply to the downtown historic district and the First Railroad Addition historic district.

D.    Removal of Properties from the Register. In the event that any designated landmark property is no longer deemed eligible for inclusion in the register owing to loss of historic integrity, the landmarks and design commission may initiate removal of such designation by the same procedure as provided for in establishing the designation in subsection (B) of this section. [Ord. 4807 § 40, 2018; Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.280.090 Review of changes to landmarks register properties.

A.    Review Required.

1.    No person shall alter, repair, enlarge, newly construct, relocate, or demolish any registered landmark, or any property located within a landmark district, nor install any exterior sign or mural pursuant to subsection (A)(2) of this section, without review by the landmarks and design commission and issuance of a COA. In the case of murals, the arts commission shall first review and provide its recommendations to the landmarks and design commission of any proposal for a mural to be located on a registered landmark or within a landmark district. Factors to be considered by the arts commission include media to be used, method of application, stability, building/site, mural location and practicability of project.

2.    This review shall apply to all exterior features of the property visible from a public right-of-way. This review applies whether or not a permit from the city of Ellensburg is required.

3.    Review of alterations to Ellensburg landmarks register properties under this chapter is in lieu of design review required for projects and sign review per ECC 15.210.050(B).

B.    Exemptions. The following activities are exempted from landmarks review and do not require a COA: maintenance and repairs in-kind which do not alter the historic character-defining exterior features visible from a public right-of-way and do not utilize substitute materials; repairs to or replacement of utility systems which do not alter exterior features visible from a public right-of-way; and all interior work.

C.    Review Process (a Type II Review Process Exception).

1.    Requests for Review and Issuance of a Certificate of Appropriateness.

a.    Application for a COA shall be made by filing an application for such certificate with the preservation planner on forms provided by the department. A written description of materials required for the landmarks and design commission’s review, including but not limited to site plans, elevations, and material samples, shall be provided to the applicant. Preliminary plans may be submitted to the preservation planner for review and an advisory opinion.

b.    If an application is made to the department of community development for any permit which affects a designated landmark, or a property located in a landmark district, the building official shall promptly refer such application to the preservation planner, and such shall be deemed an application for a COA if accompanied by the additional materials required for COA review. No city permit shall be issued, nor work begun, until the landmarks and design review process has been completed and a COA has been issued pursuant to this chapter.

2.    Landmarks and Design Commission Review.

a.    At a regularly scheduled public hearing, the landmarks and design commission shall review the proposed work according to the relevant design provisions set forth in Divisions IV and V of this title. After concluding the public hearing, the landmarks and design commission shall approve or disapprove the application. Approval of projects shall be based upon appropriateness of design as reflected in said provisions.

b.    The landmarks and design commission may approve with or without conditions or disapprove an application. The decision of the landmarks and design commission shall be rendered within 15 working days of the date of receipt of a completed application, unless the parties agree to an extension. The landmarks and design commission’s findings in support of any decision shall be in writing and shall cite the applicable design provisions.

c.    If the landmarks and design commission makes a decision to issue a COA, such certificate shall be promptly issued to the applicant by the preservation planner and a copy of such certificate shall be transmitted to the building official.

d.    If the landmarks and design commission denies the application, the applicant and the building official shall be notified of such denial, including the reasons why approval of the application is not warranted.

e.    The commission’s decision on a COA may be appealed to the city council in a closed record appeal hearing.

D.    Demolition. Application for a COA for whole or partial demolition of a property listed in the Ellensburg landmarks register shall be reviewed by the landmarks and design commission in accordance with the procedures set forth in subsection (C) of this section and ECC 15.280.100 with the following exceptions:

1.    The landmarks and design commission shall meet initially with the applicant to consider alternatives to demolition, including available incentives for preservation. These negotiations may last no longer than 90 calendar days from the first meeting of the landmarks and design commission, unless either party requests an extension.

2.    If no request for an extension is made and the existence of a condition of unreasonable economic return, as set forth in ECC 15.280.100, has been proven and no alternative to demolition has been agreed to, the landmarks and design commission shall make a decision on issuance of the COA. The preservation planner shall promptly transmit a copy of such decision to the building official.

3.    The landmarks and design commission may require conditions of approval including, but not limited to, mitigation measures.

4.    Any person aggrieved by any action of the commission denying or approving a demolition request may file a notice of appeal as set forth in Chapter 15.230 ECC; however, such appeal shall be a closed record appeal to city council rather than to the hearing examiner. [Ord. 4807 § 41, 2018; Ord. 4725 § 3, 2016; Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.280.100 Evaluation of economic impact.

A.    In making its decision the landmarks and design commission shall, when requested by the property owner, consider evidence of economic impact on the owner from the denial or partial denial of a COA. In no case may a COA be denied, in whole or in part, when it is established that the denial will, when available economic incentives are utilized, deprive the owner of a reasonable economic use of the property, and there is no viable and reasonable alternative which would have less impact on the significant features specified in the designation.

B.    To prove the existence of a condition of unreasonable economic return, the applicant must establish, and the landmarks and design commission must find, both of the following:

1.    The landmark is incapable of earning a reasonable economic return without completing the alterations or demolition proposed; and

2.    The owner has the present intent and the secured financial ability, demonstrated by appropriate documentary evidence, to complete the proposed alteration or, in the case of demolition, to complete any proposed new construction.

C.    The applicant shall establish a condition of unreasonable economic return with appropriate documentation that may include:

1.    Proof of current level of economic return, including: amount paid for landmark; annual gross and net income from the property for the last five years; remaining balance on mortgage and annual debt service; real estate taxes for previous four years and most recent assessed valuation; appraisals obtained during last three years; fair market value immediately prior to and after landmark designation; form of ownership; or federal income returns relating to the landmark for the last two years.

2.    Proof of lack of marketability, including: reasonableness of asking sales price; offers received within previous two years; real estate broker or firm engaged to sell or lease property; or advertisements placed for sale or lease.

3.    Proof of no feasible alternative uses that could earn a reasonable economic return, including: report from a licensed engineer or architect with historic preservation experience attesting to the landmark’s structural soundness and suitability for rehabilitation; cost estimates for proposed alteration and for compliance with landmarks and design commission’s decision; estimated market value of property after proposed alteration and, in the case of proposed demolition, after renovation of landmark for continued use; testimony of an architect, developer, or real estate professional with experience in historic preservation as to economic feasibility of rehabilitation or reuse of landmark; unfeasibility of new construction around, above, or below landmark.

4.    Proof of lack of available and applicable economic incentives.

D.    Upon reasonable notice to the owner, the landmarks and design commission may appoint an expert to provide advice and testimony concerning the value of the landmark, the availability of incentives, and the economic impacts of approval, denial, or partial denial of a COA.

E.    Any adverse economic impact caused intentionally or by willful neglect shall not constitute a basis for granting a COA. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.280.110 Special valuation for historic properties.

A.    There is hereby established and implemented a special valuation program for historic properties as provided in Chapter 84.26 RCW and Chapter 254-20 WAC.

B.    The Ellensburg landmarks and design commission is hereby designated as the local review board for the purposes set forth in Chapter 84.26 RCW and is authorized to perform all functions of a local review board authorized by Chapter 84.26 RCW and Chapter 254-20 WAC.

C.    The class of properties eligible to apply for special valuation in the city of Ellensburg means all properties listed on the Ellensburg landmarks register, or properties contributing to an Ellensburg landmarks register historic district, which have been substantially rehabilitated at a cost and within a time period which meets the requirements set forth in Chapter 84.26 RCW.

D.    The landmarks and design commission shall adopt administrative rules for implementing special valuation and shall comply with all other local review board responsibilities identified in Chapter 84.26 RCW and Chapter 254-20 WAC.

E.    Any decision of the landmarks and design commission acting on any application for classification as historic property eligible for special valuation may be appealed to superior court under RCW 34.05.510 through 34.05.598 in addition to any other remedy of law. Any decision on the disqualification of historic property eligible for special valuation, or any other dispute, may be appealed to the county board of equalization. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]