Chapter 15.390A


15.390A.010    Purpose.

15.390A.020    Applicability.

15.390A.030    Site planning.

15.390A.040    Landscaping and hardscape features.

15.390A.050    Parking lots and structures.

15.390A.010 Purpose.

To establish design criteria for the review and approval of master site plans for regional retail commercial projects pursuant to ECC 15.390.070(D)(9). [Ord. 4769 § 16, 2017; Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013. Formerly 15.590.010.]

15.390A.020 Applicability.

The provisions herein apply to all master site plans for regional retail commercial projects pursuant to Chapter 15.390 ECC and subsequent development activity within the master site plan area. Such master site plans and subsequent development are exempt from the standards in Chapters 15.510 through 15.580 ECC unless otherwise noted herein. [Ord. 4769 § 16, 2017; Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013. Formerly 15.590.020.]

15.390A.030 Site planning.

A.    Responding to the Site Characteristics.

1.    Develop the site plan in response to specific site characteristics, including natural features, vegetation, topography, or existing amenities and location within the community.

Design techniques:

a.    Commercial development should enhance valued neighborhood amenities such as stream corridors, trees and natural areas.

b.    Siting should acknowledge and reinforce desirable existing spatial patterns of the neighborhood.

2.    Coordinate adequate public services and utilities in the design phase to serve the proposed uses.

B.    Transitions to Surrounding Neighborhoods. Link proposed development to walkways, trails, and bicycle systems in the surrounding area by connecting and lining up directly to existing linkages, closing gaps and treating crossings of barriers on development site with special design treatment, minimizing barriers, designing with consistent materials, widths and locations, and providing safe, easy and clearly identifiable access to and along the linkages. Safe, convenient and attractive connections to downtown linkages should be provided.

C.    Streetscape Compatibility. Develop the site plan in response to safety, interaction/activity, informal surveillance.

Design techniques:

1.    Ensure shared access and coordination of internal driveways and parking areas.

2.    Cooperate in a welcoming gateway to the city from interstate highways and incorporate directional signage to historic downtown and Central Washington University (subject to federal, state and local ordinances).

D.    Transitions to Sidewalks, Streets and Buildings.

1.    Design of building massing, height, and scale should provide a sensitive transition to adjoining residential neighborhoods.

2.    New commercial developments, whose bulk and scale may negatively impact adjacent residential areas, should mitigate the effect through careful site planning and architectural design.

Design techniques: Possible mitigation techniques include:

a.    Locating open space on the site’s edge to further separate the building from less intensive uses.

b.    Stepping down the massing of the building along the site’s edge.

c.    Limiting length of, or articulating building facades to reflect adjacent residential patterns.

d.    Creative use of landscaping.

E.    Street Frontages and Building Orientation. Orient the building toward the principal street frontage, and face the primary entrance toward that frontage.

Design techniques:

1.    Commercial architecture in Ellensburg has traditionally maintained a strong relationship to the street.

2.    Buildings in the mixed use retail and office park areas should abut the sidewalks on at least one side.

3.    Orienting the building’s formal facade and primary entrance toward the principal street frontage creates pedestrian interaction, minimizes automobile dominance, and results in a lively streetscape.

4.    Avoid facing buildings to the side with the resultant erosion of the streetscape.

5.    Site entrances shall be emphasized with landscape treatments to strongly indicate the pedestrian orientation of these areas.

6.    Consideration should be given to the relationship between buildings and adjacent open space areas. All design should appear as an integrated part of an overall site plan.

7.    Roadways should be designed to reduce the visual impact of pavement area through siting of structures, berms and landscaping.

F.    Human Activity.

1.    Design the project to human scale in order to provide pedestrian interest and facilitate pedestrian activity.

Design techniques:

a.    Use setback areas for pedestrian activities such as outdoor seating or dining, for a plaza or recessed entity, or for landscaping.

b.    Arcades, colonnades, or awnings at ground floor level provide pedestrian interest and can provide protection.

c.    Create clear and safe pedestrian pathways from the sidewalks to the building’s entrance.

d.    Include public gathering spaces throughout the site, locating smaller retail buildings close to streets, and developing quality landscaping along street frontages.

e.    Appropriate pedestrian amenities could include benches, planters, decorative paving, artwork, lighting, and/or bicycle racks.

2.    The design should provide for a sense of enclosure and safety along commercial streets including the provision of sidewalks, benches, public transportation and a clear pedestrian and bicycle access to all buildings including both internal connections and linkages to city’s planned and existing sidewalk and trail network.

3.    Column and bay spacing along street fronts should be provided at intervals no greater than 36 feet apart in order to maintain a pedestrian-oriented scale and rhythm.

G.    Respect for Adjacent Sites. Structures should be scaled to other structures and spaces.

H.    Phased Developments.

1.    Future development pads shall be designed to relate to the rest of the project’s architecture and will provide pedestrian-scale exterior features.

2.    Each phase of the development shall be designed to be consistent with, but not necessarily the same as, the balance of the project architecture, including materials, colors, and general style.

I.    Transition Between Uses and Streetscape.

1.    Use open spaces to assist in the organization of architectural elements.

2.    Provide common garden elements and/or human activity focus points.

3.    Lessen the impact of parking by creating a prominent street front which is desirable for development attractiveness, public safety and pedestrian access. [Ord. 4769 § 16, 2017; Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013. Formerly 15.590.030.]

15.390A.040 Landscaping and hardscape features.

A.    Reinforcing Design Continuity with Neighboring and Adjacent Sites.

1.    Select plant materials that are suitable to the site and to Ellensburg’s climate zone, and provide a viable stationary irrigation system.

Design techniques:

a.    Choice of plant materials and their placement on the site are critical to the valley’s windy, semi-arid climate.

b.    Install a stationary irrigation system that provides full coverage of the landscaped area.

2.    Building entries, primary vehicular entries and building perimeters should be enhanced with landscaping which could include ornamental vines, groundcovers, shrubs and/or trees selected for their screening, canopy, spatial enclosure and seasonal variation.

3.    Benches, kiosks, signs, bollards, waste receptacles, street vending carts, water fountains, lighting standards, perch walls, sidewalks, pathways, trails and special water features should be designed to be compatible elements of like materials and design.

4.    Streetscape plantings should be simplified to allow adequate visibility from automobiles to businesses.

5.    The use of potted plants and flowers as well as street trees are encouraged, but should not impede pedestrian traffic.

6.    The landscape design character of Ellensburg should be reinforced by using:

Design techniques:

a.    Street Trees. Ellensburg has a long-term “Tree City” designation. If a street has a uniform planting of street trees, or an area of distinctive species, plant additional street trees that match the planting pattern or species.

b.    Similar Plant Materials. When many lots on a block feature similar landscape materials, emphasis on these materials will help a new project fit into the local context.

c.    Similar Construction Materials Textures, Colors or Elements. Extending a low brick wall, using paving similar to a neighboring use or employing similar stairway construction are ways to achieve design continuity.

7.    Use landscaping to integrate the commercial development with the community, through the establishment of sidewalks, street trees per city of Ellensburg street tree list, and street lighting.

Design techniques:

a.    Plant regularly spaced trees to shade the sidewalk and street, and consider the use of planters to create a safety barrier between street and sidewalk, or between sidewalk and setback.

b.    Utilize the city of Ellensburg’s street tree list to select climate-appropriate species.

c.    Street lighting designs should reflect the scale of the neighborhood.

8.    Provide landscaping of appropriate scale in the area of the required setbacks, in conformance with city code.

Design techniques:

a.    Incorporate landscape materials into the design of setbacks to help define pedestrian spaces, circulation, and building access.

b.    Landscaping can be effectively used to denote property edges and to accent architectural elements of street facades.

c.    Use landscaping to soften the effect of blank walls.

B.    Landscaping to Enhance a Large Commercial Building and/or Site.

1.    Enhance the site with landscaping.

Design techniques:

a.    Softening the form of the building by screening blank walls, terracing retaining walls, etc.

b.    Providing a framework such as a trellis or arbor for plants to grow on.

c.    Incorporating a planter guard or low planter wall as part of the architecture.

d.    Distinctively landscaping open areas created by building modulation.

e.    Incorporating upper story planter boxes or roof planters.

f.    Including a special feature such as a courtyard, fountain or pool.

g.    Emphasizing entries with special planting in conjunction with decorative paving and/or lighting.

h.    Screening a building from view by its neighbors, or an existing use from the new building.

2.    Screen dumpsters, utilities, and service areas from view with landscaping.

Design techniques:

a.    Where service elements cannot be located away from the street front, they should be screened from view and not encroach upon the pedestrian right-of-way.

b.    Use an effective combination of landscape materials with fencing to screen the service area, and locate its opening away from the sidewalk.

C.    Landscaping to Address Special Site Conditions.

1.    High Bank Front Yard. Where the building’s ground floor is elevated above a sidewalk pedestrian’s eye level, landscaping can help make the transition between grades.

Design techniques:

a.    Rockeries with floral displays, live ground cover or shrubs.

b.    Terraces with floral displays, ground covers or shrubs.

c.    Low retaining walls with raised planting strips.

d.    Stone or brick masonry walls with vines or shrubs.

2.    Barrier-Free Access. Where wheelchair ramps must be provided on a street front, the ramp structure might include a planting strip on the sidewalk side of the elevated portions of the ramp.

3.    Steep Banks or Stream Bed Topography. Special plantings or erosion control measures may be necessary to prevent site destabilization and/or to enhance the visual qualities of the site in connection with neighboring improvement programs.

4.    Boulevards. Incorporate landscaping which reflects and reinforces the sense of streetscape.

5.    Greenbelt or Other Natural Setting. Protect or preserve greenbelts and other settings by:

Design techniques:

a.    Minimizing the removal of significant trees.

b.    Replacing trees that were removed with new trees.

c.    Emphasizing naturalized or native landscape materials.

d.    Retaining natural greenbelt vegetation that contributes to greenbelt preservation.

e.    Selecting colors that are more appropriate to the natural setting. [Ord. 4769 § 16, 2017; Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013. Formerly 15.590.040.]

15.390A.050 Parking lots and structures.

Reduce the visual impact of parking lots and parking structures.

A.    Parking – Surface.

1.    Where possible, break up or divide large parking lots. Employee and overflow parking may be located behind buildings and away from areas of high public visibility. Handicap stalls should be located throughout the development.

Design techniques:

a.    The relationship of building facade to the street, and safe pedestrian access to the building entrances, are of primary consideration in commercial development.

b.    Parking must not dominate the street front.

2.    Parking areas should include landscape areas. The size and location of parking areas should be minimized and related to the group of buildings served.

Design techniques:

a.    All parking lots visible from public rights-of-way, or located within 20 feet of residential property, should be screened using a combination of trees, shrubs, walls, and/or trellis structures with plants.

b.    Screening need not be sight-obscuring, and need not be uniform along the property frontage.

3.    Minimize long, straight, monotonous rows and effect of large paved areas by visually breaking up the parking lot with landscaped islands. Landscape islands shall be distributed throughout the parking lot at a rate of 24 square feet per stall.

4.    Landscaping shall be provided to screen surface parking areas and provide transition between the project and surrounding areas. Landscape and screen surface parking areas visible to the public.

5.    Pedestrian access from parking areas and vehicle circulation through parking areas should be safe and clearly defined.

6.    Landscaped medians are encouraged where access and traffic allow.

7.    Open space and landscaping should be coordinated and linked wherever possible, particularly in relation to public areas and the pedestrian system.

8.    Design and locate parking areas in a manner that will break up large areas of parking and provide for shared parking among businesses.

9.    Locate off-street parking to the rear or side of the building, whenever possible.

Design techniques:

a.    The site plan should minimize the number and width of driveways and curb cuts along the street and should consider alleyway access.

b.    Various parking lot configurations may be possible, depending upon site constraints; large lots may be broken into several smaller lots.

10.    Minimize the visual impact of parking surface run-off treatments, and incorporate them into landscaping where possible.

11.    Allow surface parking in front of large retail structures and anchor retailers but reduce visibility of parking from public streets with landscaping and the location of smaller structures.

B.    Parking Structures.

1.    The presence and appearance of garage or large door entrances should be minimized so that they do not dominate the street or building frontage.

Design techniques:

a.    Recess the portion of the facade where the entry is located to help conceal it.

b.    Extend portions of the structure over the garage entry to help conceal it.

c.    Emphasize other elements of the facade to reduce the visual prominence of the garage entry.

2.    Structured parking should be designed to avoid undifferentiated planes. The scale of parking structures should be modulated by interruptions of the facades, setbacks, and lowering the first level below the existing grade (where the water table allows) to reduce total height.

3.    Facades of parking structures should include a landscape treatment in addition to architectural screening.

Design techniques:

Parking structures should have landscaping around the ground level perimeter and the top floor which will correspond to adjacent land uses and activities. Landscaping should include, but not be limited to, a combination of shade trees, evergreen trees, shrubs, groundcovers, deciduous native and ornamental shrubs, and vines to further screen the structures.

4.    Provide walkways in parking floors with barriers to protect pedestrians from vehicles.

Design techniques:

For security, pedestrian routes should be visible and avoid enclosed, hidden areas. Emergency call boxes should be available.

5.    Parking structures should be enclosed with retail or office uses on the exterior or where this enclosure is not feasible, the visual impact should be softened with landscaping or screening.

C.    Exterior Lighting.

1.    An exterior lighting plan for the development area shall be provided and approved.

Design techniques:

a.    The plan should encourage nighttime pedestrian movement through and around the development area.

b.    Street lighting should relate in scale to the pedestrian characters of the area.

c.    The design of the light standards and luminaries should enhance the design theme.

d.    Exterior lighting installations shall be designed to avoid harsh contrasts in lighting levels.

2.    In order to direct light downward and minimize the amount of light spilled into the dark night sky, all lighting fixtures shall be full cut-off fixtures as defined by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA).

3.    Fixtures used to accent architectural features, materials, colors, styles of buildings or art shall be located, aimed and shielded so that light is directed only on those features. Such fixtures shall be aimed or shielded so as to minimize light spill into the dark night sky.

Design techniques:

a.    Lighting fixtures shall not generate excessive light levels, cause glare or direct light beyond the facade onto neighboring property, streets or the night sky.

b.    Flags of the United States or Washington State may be illuminated from below provided such lighting is focused primarily on the individual flag or flags so as to limit light trespass and spill into the dark night sky.

4.    Illumination of landscaping shall utilize diffused or muted lighting, avoid glare, and minimize light trespass and escape beyond landscaping onto neighboring property, streets, or the night sky.

Design techniques:

a.    Select plants that will not overgrow security lighting.

b.    Vegetation and landscaping shall be maintained in a manner that does not obstruct security lighting and minimizes possible entrapment spaces.

5.    Fuel service station and truck stop exterior lighting levels should be adequate to facilitate only the activities taking place in such locations.

Design techniques:

a.    Canopy light shall be fully recessed or fully shielded so as to ensure that no light source is visible from or causes glare on public rights-of-way or adjacent properties. Lights shall not be mounted on the top or sides of the canopy.

b.    Lighting shall not be used to attract attention to the business.

6.    Security lighting should be designed and used to discourage crime and undesirable activity.

Design techniques:

a.    Install full cut-off fixtures as defined by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA).

b.    Use the lowest possible illumination to effectively allow surveillance.

c.    Use sensor technologies, timers or other means to activate lighting during times when it will be needed to conserve energy, provide safety, and promote compatibility between different land uses.

d.    Aim lighting fixtures so that illumination is directed to the designated areas.

D.    Architectural Design.

1.    Building Height, Bulk and Scale.

a.    The height, bulk and scale of buildings should be compatible with one another in the development and with neighboring property buildings. Compatibility could be accomplished by:

Design techniques:

i.    Architectural context – the use of architectural style, details (such as roof lines or fenestration), color or materials that derive from neighboring uses.

ii.    The creative use of landscaping or other screening.

iii.    The location of features on-site to facilitate transition, such as locating required open space or the most compatible uses on the edge of the development area.

iv.    Treating topographic conditions in ways that minimize impacts on neighboring development, such as by using a rockery rather than a retaining wall to give a more human scale to a project, or stepping a project down a hillside.

2.    Architectural Elements and Materials.

a.    The building as an individual structure or as part of a series of buildings should respect architectural context of the development area.

Design techniques:

i.    Facade articulation.

ii.    Building scale and proportion.

iii.    Complementary architectural style.

iv.    Roof forms.

v.    Building details and fenestration patterns.

vi.    Complementary materials.

b.    Design roof lines to reflect traditional commercial roof configurations.

Design techniques:

i.    Commercial architecture in Ellensburg has traditionally included various roof forms, most often characterized by a decorative parapet wall;

ii.    Various roof configurations such as gabled, flat, or shed are possible behind the parapet wall; however, mansard roofs are not traditionally found in Ellensburg and their use is discouraged;

iii.    Avoid roof configurations which overly mimic residential styles;

c.    Rooftop utilities and mechanical systems should not be visible from the street; regional retail commercial project buildings have a building height limit of 50 feet which includes any building mechanical equipment.

d.    The roofline of buildings should be modulated to avoid the appearance of large areas of flat roof and should include interesting architectural features. Consideration should be given to the appearance.

e.    The scale of all structures in relationship to other structures and spaces is important. Multiple stories or the appearance of multiple stories may be used up to the maximum height limit. Some variation in heights contributes to the variety and complexity of the environmental experience, and is encouraged.

Design techniques:

Consider from among a wide range of wall treatments derived from traditional commercial architecture: pediments, cornice molding, cresting, or a stepped false-front design.

f.    Organize multi-story commercial building facades with three-part horizontal division and vertical column division.

g.    The ground floor of buildings should provide pedestrian interest and activity.

h.    Use traditional storefront components and proportions on the ground-floor levels of street-facing facades.

i.    Facade designs should include some contemporary translations of traditional commercial facade elements, such as:

Design techniques:

i.    Recessed entries.

ii.    Kick plates as bases.

iii.    Plate glass display windows, commercial in scale.

iv.    Transoms.

v.    Canopies, marquees, and awnings.

j.    Include windows on the second-floor levels of street-facing facades.

Design techniques:

i.    Second-story windows create an important rhythm of solid-to-void.

ii.    Alignment, proportions, and groupings of second-floor windows should relate to first-floor building elements.

iii.    Provide second-story windows with architectural detailing of appropriate scale.

k.    Modulate, or break up, blank street-facing walls over 40 feet in width with windows, artwork, recesses, columns, bands, textural treatment, landscaping, or a combination of these techniques.

l.    Avoid design features of incompatible scale such as:

Design techniques:

i.    Residential design features, such as wood-frame porches.

ii.    Blank second-story walls;

iii.    Box-like design, especially on large buildings.

3.    Architectural Features.

a.    Give special architectural treatment to primary building entrances and corner entrances. Special attention should be given to architectural features, fenestration patterns, and the building’s proportions.

Design techniques:

i.    Recessed entry.

ii.    Roof line emphasis.

iii.    Windows above entry.

iv.    Canopy, marquee, or awning above entry.

v.    Head molding or decorative lintel above doorway.

vi.    Contrasting, decorative finish materials.

vii.    Beveling.

viii.    Roof accentuation or height increase.

ix.    Sculptural relief.

x.    Landscape emphasis.

b.    Create building articulation by:

Design techniques:

i.    Modulating the facade by stepping back or extending forward a portion of the facade.

ii.    Repeating the window patterns at an interval that equals the articulation interval.

iii.    Providing features such as a marquee, patio, deck or covered entry.

iv.    Providing a balcony or bay window for each interval.

v.    Changing the roofline by alternating dormers, stepped roofs, gables or other roof elements to reinforce the modulation or articulation interval.

vi.    Changing the materials with a change in the building plane.

vii.    Providing a lighting fixture, trellis, tree or other landscape feature with each interval.

c.    Maintain a consistent architectural concept that reflects a human scale by:

Design techniques:

i.    Articulating the building’s facades vertically and horizontally in intervals that conform to an existing structural pattern.

ii.    Utilizing recessed spaces at ground level.

iii.    Reducing the bulk of the main building by building upper floors.

iv.    Grouping in a campus setting.

v.    Limiting the length of, or otherwise modifying facades, to imply a group of smaller scale buildings.

vi.    Reducing or varying the height of the structure to imply a smaller scale building.

4.    Exterior Finish Material.

a.    Building exteriors should be constructed of durable and maintainable materials that are typically commercial in character. Exterior should be attractive even when viewed up close. Materials that have texture, pattern, or lend themselves to a high quality of detailing are encouraged.

b.    Commercial building materials and exterior finish typical to Ellensburg include:

Design techniques:

i.    Clear or painted wooden storefront ornamentation/fenestration.

ii.    Metal beaming and columns, decorative iron or visible metal exterior support structure which is incorporated into the building facade.

iii.    Brick work with pattern articulation, simple corbelling and accent materials.

iv.    Stone columns, fenestration, and accent combined with brick.

v.    Cement work that has embossed ornamentation, architectural accent or structural column division.

vi.    Ceramic and terra-cotta (pattern/relief molded), tile ornamentation or decorative panels.

vii.    Brick, stone, clay tile, and stucco.

viii.    Also acceptable are concrete, EIFS, and wood.

ix.    Varying patterns, textures, and combinations of materials and colors encouraged.

c.    Select exterior color schemes that are appropriate for large scale development and fall within a traditional commercial range (see color notebook on file at city).

d.    Building design must relate in material, colors, scale and form, which are harmonious with the surrounding environment.

e.    Buildings should be constructed of materials that minimize light reflection and glare.

f.    Green building practices or environmentally sensitive and innovative design and materials are encouraged and should comply with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.

E.    Commercial Signage. A sign plan shall be submitted with the design review application. The plan at a minimum shall show locations, dimensions and designs of the proposed signs. (Please refer to Chapter 3.12 ECC, Sign Code, for sign regulations in the C-T and C-H zones and the Washington State Department of Transportation for State Highway sign regulations.) [Ord. 4769 § 16, 2017; Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013. Formerly 15.590.050.]