Division V. Project Design

Chapter 15.500


15.500.010    Purpose.

15.500.020    Applicability and compliance.

15.500.030    How the provisions of this division are applied.

15.500.040    Administrative variance.

15.500.010 Purpose.

This division was authorized by the city council as a major implementation tool of Ellensburg’s comprehensive plan. Overall, this division intends to:

A.    Provide clear objectives for those embarking on the planning and design of development projects in Ellensburg;

B.    Preserve and protect the public health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Ellensburg;

C.    Promote and accomplish the goals, policies, and objectives of the Ellensburg comprehensive plan;

D.    Preserve and enhance downtown’s historic resources and character;

E.    Ensure that new mixed-use and commercial development is of high quality and appropriate to Ellensburg’s character;

F.    Upgrade the visual appearance of Ellensburg’s principal vehicular corridors;

G.    Ensure that new developments within existing neighborhoods are compatible with, and enhance the character of Ellensburg’s neighborhoods;

H.    Promote increased pedestrian, bicycling, and transit use downtown, and in the residential areas;

I.    Promote compact and energy efficient development patterns throughout Ellensburg;

J.    Enhance the livability of Ellensburg’s residential developments;

K.    Increase awareness of design considerations among the citizens of Ellensburg; and

L.    Maintain and enhance property values within Ellensburg. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.500.020 Applicability and compliance.

The project design provisions in this division generally apply to all new development within the city, including building additions, site improvements, and new signage. However, since each chapter herein addresses different design and development elements, the applicability of each chapter is clarified at the beginning of the chapter. For instance, some chapters may only apply to new commercial and multifamily development, while individual sections in Chapter 15.540 ECC only apply to specific housing types.

It’s also important to note that these standards are intended to supplement other provisions of this title and other existing city codes applicable to developments. Where there is a conflict between the provisions of this division and other codes, the provisions herein shall apply.

For building additions, remodels, and site improvements, three different thresholds have been established to gauge how the standards herein are applied to such projects. See Figure 15.500.020 for examples of site development and the respective types of improvements required under each of the three levels of improvements.

A.    Level I improvements include all exterior remodels, building additions, and/or site improvements commenced within a three-year period (based on the date of permit issuance) that affect the exterior appearance of the building/site and/or increase the building’s footprint by up to 50 percent. The requirement for such improvements is only that the proposed improvements meet the standards and do not lead to further nonconformance with the standards. For example, if a property owner decides to replace a building facade’s siding, then the siding shall meet the applicable exterior building material standards, but elements such as building articulation would not be required.

B.    Level II improvements include all improvements commenced within a three-year period (based on the date of permit issuance) that increase the building’s footprint by more than 50 percent, but not greater than 100 percent. All standards that do not involve repositioning the building or reconfiguring site development shall apply to Level II improvements. For example, if a property owner of an existing home in the R-O zone wants to convert the home to an office and build an addition equaling 75 percent of the current building’s footprint, then the following elements shall apply:

1.    The location and design of the addition/remodel shall be consistent with the site orientation standards (Chapter 15.510 ECC), which address building frontages, entries, parking lot location, and front yard landscaping. For such developments seeking additions to buildings where off-street parking location currently does not comply with applicable parking location standards, building additions are allowed provided they do not increase any current nonconformity and generally bring the project closer into conformance with the standards. (See Chapter 15.550 ECC, Off-Street Parking.)

2.    Comply with applicable site planning and design elements (Chapter 15.520 ECC).

3.    Comply with all building design provisions of Chapter 15.530 ECC, except architectural scale and materials provisions related to the existing portion of the building where no exterior changes are proposed. The entire building shall comply with building elements/details, materials, and blank wall treatment standards of ECC 15.530.060.

4.    Comply with the off-street parking, signage, and landscaping provisions of Chapters 15.550 through 15.570 ECC that relate to proposed improvements.

C.    Level III improvements include all improvements commenced within a three-year period (based on the date of permit issuance) that increase the building’s footprint by more than 100 percent. Such developments shall conform to all applicable standards.

The application review procedures for new development are addressed in Division II of this title. For procedures associated with new developments requiring a building permit, see ECC 15.250.030 (design review).

Figure 15.500.020. Examples of site development and the respective types of improvements required under each of the three levels of improvements.

[Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.500.030 How the provisions of this division are applied.

Most sections within the chapters herein include the following elements:

A.    Purpose statements, which are overarching objectives.

B.    Standards use words such as “shall,” “must,” and “is/are required,” signifying required actions.

C.    Guidelines use words such as “should” or “is/are recommended,” signifying voluntary measures.

D.    Departures are provided for specific standards. They allow alternative designs provided the reviewing authority determines the design meets the purpose of the standards and guidelines and other applicable criteria. See ECC 15.210.060 for related procedures associated with departures.

Furthermore, this division contains some specific standards that are easily quantifiable, while others provide a level of discretion in how they are complied with. In the latter case, the applicant must demonstrate to the director, in writing, how the project meets the purpose of the standard or standards. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.500.040 Administrative variance.

A.    Purpose. To apply limited flexibility in the application of the development standards herein.

B.    Applicability. The director may allow an administrative variance for proposals that are within 10 percent of compliance of applicable dimensional standards within Division V. For example, ECC 15.530.030(D) requires articulation features at intervals no more than 30 feet along facades. The applicant could request an administrative variance to allow the articulation interval to be increased by up to 10 percent (to 33 feet).

C.    Procedures. An administrative variance is subject to the Type II review process set forth in Chapter 15.210 ECC.

D.    Decision Criteria. Proposals shall meet the purpose(s) of the applicable development standards. [Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]