Chapter 19.30
FLOODPLAIN OVERLAY DISTRICTS AND REGULATIONS

Sections:

19.30.010    User guide and definitions.

19.30.020    Lands to which this chapter applies.

19.30.030    Floodway overlay zoning district.

19.30.040    Flood fringe and special development area overlay zoning districts.

19.30.045    Biological assessments.

19.30.050    Standards for flood hazard reduction.

19.30.060    Administration.

19.30.070    Nonconforming uses.

19.30.080    Variances.

19.30.090    Appeals.

19.30.010 User guide and definitions.

Certain areas within the city are subject to periodic flooding of the Snohomish River and are also subject to regulations of the Federal Flood Insurance Program. These areas are indicated on the Everett zone map using overlay zones with the symbol “FFD” for flood fringe district, “FWD” for floodway district, and “SDA” for special development area. If you have property located within the FFD, FWD or SDA overlay zones or want to know what the regulations for buildings and land uses are within these overlay zones, you should read this chapter. The definitions of terms in this chapter can be found in Section 19.04.030, Floodplain overlay zone definitions, which is considered part of and incorporated by reference into this chapter. (Ord. 2856-05 § 1, 2005: Ord. 1671-89 (part), 1989.)

19.30.020 Lands to which this chapter applies.

A.    Basis for Establishing the Areas of Special Flood Hazard. This chapter shall apply to all areas of special flood hazards within the jurisdiction of the city as identified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in a scientific and engineering report entitled “Flood Insurance Study, Snohomish County, Washington and Incorporated Areas” (FIS), with accompanying flood insurance rate maps (FIRMs), dated September 2005, as may be revised by FEMA. The FIS and FIRMs are adopted by reference and declared to be part of this title. The FIS and FIRMs are on file at the city planning department.

B.    Specifically, there will be three overlay zones:

1.    Floodway district (FWD);

2.    Flood fringe district (FFD), which shall be divided into a rural flood fringe district (RFFD) and an urban flood fringe district (UFFD);

3.    Special development area (SDA).

The floodway districts, flood fringe districts, and special development areas shall be shown and defined on maps which are effective upon final determination by FEMA and made a part of this chapter by adoption by the city council. Copies of the maps shall be maintained for inspection by the public in the planning department office.

C.    The three overlay zone boundaries are:

1.    Floodway district (FWD) shall consist of the surface area of the Snohomish River, those areas waterward of the levy on the Lowell River Road, the Simpson wetland (approximately thirty-four acres in size), Weyco and Ferry Baker Islands, the Port of Everett Union Slough restoration site, and the area known as Maulsby Swamp north of 6th Street, east of the Burlington-Northern right-of-way and to the top of the bluff.

2.    The flood fringe district shall be divided into rural flood fringe districts and urban flood fringe districts as below:

a.    The rural flood fringe district (RFFD) shall consist of those portions of the special flood hazard area described as follows:

i.    The area lying west of the fifteen-foot contour south of Ravenna Street;

ii.    Jetty Island from the training dike to the line of extreme low tide;

iii.    The city sewer treatment facility on Smith Island located south of 12th Street N.E. and east of I-5 excluding the area west of the aeration pond which has been removed from the floodplain through filling of the property (new designation—Zone X).

iv.    The area east of the City of Everett Water Pollution Control Facility oxidation ponds located north of 4th Street SE labeled as “Density Fringe” on Flood Insurance Rate Map panels 53061C0720F and 53061C1035F and any other parcels within the city’s jurisdiction labeled as “Density Fringe.”

b.    The urban flood fringe district (UFFD) shall consist of all other special flood hazard areas less the special development area defined below.

3.    The special development area (SDA) shall consist of that portion of the special flood hazard area designated as “Special Development Area” on FIRM panels 53061C1030F, 53061C1035F, 53061C1040F, and 53061C1045F. (Ord. 2856-05 § 2, 2005: Ord. 1671-89 (part), 1989.)

19.30.030 Floodway overlay zoning district.

The floodway overlay district shall apply to the area zoned FWD floodway district.

A.    Permitted Uses. The following uses have a low flood danger potential and, if not obstructing flood flows, shall be permitted within the floodway district; provided they are not prohibited by any other ordinance; and provided they do not require permanent structures, fill or storage of materials or equipment, and meet the requirements of Federal Regulations, 44 CFR, Part 60.3 and Section 19.30.050 of this title:

1.    Agricultural uses such as general farming, pasture, grazing, outdoor plant nurseries, horticulture, truck farming, forestry, sod farming and wild-crop harvesting;

2.    Residential uses such as lawn, gardens, parking areas and play areas;

3.    Private and public recreational uses including, but not limited to, ball fields, golf courses, tennis courts, driving ranges, archery ranges, picnic grounds, boat-launching ramps, parks, wildlife and nature preserves, game farms, fish hatcheries, shooting preserves, target ranges, trap and skeet ranges, hiking and riding trails; and

4.    Municipal facilities.

B.    Prohibited Uses.

1.    No structures (temporary or permanent), fill (including fill for roads and levees), deposit, obstruction, storage of materials or equipment, or other uses, shall be allowed which, acting alone or in combination with existing or future uses, shall unduly affect the capacity of the floodway as determined by the city.

2.    Residential structures are prohibited in the floodway except for:

a.    Repairs, reconstruction or improvements to an existing structure which does not increase the ground floor area; and

b.    Repairs, reconstruction or improvements to an existing structure, the cost of which does not exceed fifty percent of the market value of the structure either:

(1)    Before the repair, reconstruction or improvement is started, or

(2)    If the structure has been damaged and is being restored, before the damage occurred.

c.    Work done on structures to comply with existing health, sanitary, or safety codes or to structures identified as historic places shall not be included in the fifty percent determination.

C.    Conditional Uses. The following uses which involve structures (temporary or permanent), or fill in the floodway may be permitted if approved along with the shoreline permit or floodplain development permit when in compliance with subsection D of this section.

1.    Uses or structures accessory to uses permitted in the floodway district;

2.    Extraction of sand, gravel and other material;

3.    Railroads, streets, bridges, utility transmission lines and pipelines; and

4.    Kennels, stables and barns.

D.    Conditional Use Standards.

1.    Fills.

a.    Any fill permitted must have a beneficial purpose, and the size of the fill must relate to achieving said purpose. A plan shall be submitted illustrating the uses proposed for the fill and its dimensions.

b.    Such fill or other materials shall be protected against erosion by rip rap, vegetation cover or bulkheading.

2.    Structures temporary or permanent, provided:

a.    Structures shall have a low flood-damage potential.

b.    When permitted, structures shall offer minimum obstruction to the flow of floodwaters:

i.    By being parallel to the direction of the flood flow; and

ii.    By locating on the same flood flow lines as adjoining structures.

c.    Structures shall be firmly anchored to prevent flotation.

d.    Electrical and heating equipment shall be constructed two feet above the regulatory flood protection elevation.

3.    As a minimum, special property uses shall satisfy the requirements of Federal Regulations Title 44 CFR, Part 60.3 and Section 19.30.050 of this title. (Ord. 2856-05 §§ 3, 4, 5, 2005; Ord. 2205-97 § 2, 1997; Ord. 1671-89 (part), 1989.)

19.30.040 Flood fringe and special development area overlay zoning districts.

A.    The flood fringe overlay districts shall apply to areas designated RFFD and UFFD.

1.    Permitted Uses.

a.    Urban Flood Fringe District. Any use consistent with the controlling shoreline master program, permitted in the underlying zones, and meeting the requirements of Federal Regulations 44 CFR, Part 60.3 and Section 19.30.050 of this title.

b.    Rural Flood Fringe District. Any use consistent with the controlling shoreline master program and that is a permitted use in the city’s A-1 zone.

2.    Development Standards for Permitted Uses in Urban and Rural Flood Fringe Districts.

a.    The first floor of structures and outdoor storage areas shall be two feet above the regulatory flood protection elevation.

b.    The elevation of the site shall be two feet above the regulatory flood protection elevation for a distance of fifteen feet beyond any structure in any direction.

c.    All parking areas and driveways shall be no lower than one foot below the regulatory flood protection elevation.

d.    Compliance with Federal Regulations Title 44 CFR, Part 60.3 and Section 19.30.050 of this title is required.

B.    The special development areas shall apply to the areas designated SDA.

1.    Permitted Uses. Any use that is not a conditional use in the SDA overlay and is consistent with the controlling shoreline master program and any applicable subarea plan, is permitted in the underlying zones, and meets the requirements of Federal Regulations 44 CFR, Part 60.3 and Section 19.30.050 of this title.

2.    Conditional Uses. Conditional uses and conditional use standards as specified in Sections 30.030.C and D (floodway overlay zoning district). (Ord. 3684-19 § 2(F), 2019; Ord. 2856-05 § 6, 2005: Ord. 1671-89 (part), 1989.)

19.30.045 Biological assessments.

Section 19.37.190 requires that a biological assessment be completed to determine the impacts of proposed development to endangered species and mitigation requirements. (Ord. 3676-19 § 38, 2019: Ord. 3457-15 § 7, 2015)

19.30.050 Standards for flood hazard reduction.

A.    General Standards. In all areas of special flood hazards, the following standards are required:

1.    Anchoring.

a.    All new construction and substantial improvements shall be anchored to prevent flotation, collapse or lateral movement of the structure.

b.    All manufactured homes must likewise be anchored to prevent flotation, collapse or lateral movement, and shall be installed using methods and practices that minimize flood damage. Anchoring methods may include, but are not limited to, use of over-the-top or frame ties to ground anchors (Reference FEMA’s “Manufactured Home Installation in Flood Hazard Areas” guidebook for additional techniques).

2.    Construction Materials and Methods.

a.    All new construction and substantial improvements shall be constructed with materials and utility equipment resistant to flood damage.

b.    All new construction and substantial improvements shall be constructed using methods and practices that minimize flood damage.

c.    Electrical, heating, ventilation, plumbing and air-conditioning equipment and other service facilities shall be designed and/or otherwise elevated or located so as to prevent water from entering or accumulating within the components during conditions of flooding.

3.    Utilities.

a.    All new and replacement water supply systems shall be designed to minimize or eliminate infiltration of floodwaters into the system;

b.    New and replacement sanitary sewage systems shall be designed to minimize or eliminate infiltration of floodwaters into the systems and discharge from the systems into floodwaters; and

c.    On-site waste disposal systems shall be located to avoid impairment to them or contamination from them during flooding.

4.    Subdivision Proposals.

a.    All subdivision proposals shall be consistent with the need to minimize flood damage;

b.    All subdivision proposals shall have public utilities and facilities such as sewer, gas, electrical and water systems located and constructed to minimize flood damage;

c.    All subdivision proposals shall have adequate drainage provided to reduce exposure to flood damage; and

d.    Where base flood elevation data has not been provided or is not available from another authoritative source, it shall be generated for subdivision proposals and other proposed developments which contain at least fifty lots or five acres (whichever is less).

5.    Review of Building Permits. Where elevation data is not available either through the Flood Insurance Study or from another authoritative source (Subsection 30.060A1b), application for building permits shall be reviewed to assure that proposed construction will be reasonable safe from flooding. The test of reasonableness is a local judgment and includes use of historical data, high water marks, photographs of past flooding, etc., where available. Failure to elevate at least two feet above base flood elevation in these zones may result in higher insurance rates.

B.    Specific Standards. In all areas of special flood hazards where base flood elevation data has been provided as set forth in Section 19.30.020, basis for establishing the areas of special flood hazard or subsection 30.060A1b, use of other base flood data, the following provisions are required:

1.    Residential Construction.

a.    New construction and substantial improvement of any residential structure shall have the lowest floor, including basement, elevated two feet above base flood elevation.

b.    Fully enclosed areas below the lowest that are subject to flooding are prohibited, or shall be designed to automatically equalize hydrostatic flood forces on exterior walls by allowing for the entry and exit of floodwaters. Designs for meeting this requirement must either be certified by a registered professional engineer or architect or must meet or exceed the following minimum criteria:

(i) A minimum of two openings having a total net area of not less than one square inch for every square foot of enclosed area subject to flooding shall be provided.

(ii) The bottom of all openings shall be no higher than one foot above grade.

(iii) Openings may be equipped with screens, louvers or other coverings or devices provided that they permit the automatic entry and exit of floodwaters.

2.    Nonresidential Construction. New construction and substantial improvement of any commercial, industrial or other nonresidential structure shall either have the lowest floor, including basement, elevated to two feet above of the base flood elevation; or, together with attendant utility and sanitary facilities, shall:

a.    Be floodproofed so that below a level which is two feet above the base flood level the structure is watertight with walls substantially impermeable to the passage of water;

b.    Have structural components capable of resisting hydrostatic and hydrodynamic loads and effects of buoyancy;

c.    Be certified by a registered professional engineer or architect that the design and methods of construction are in accordance with accepted standards of practice for meeting provisions of this section based on their development and/or review of the structural design, specifications and plans. Such certifications shall be provided to the official as set forth in Section 30.060.A.1.c.2.

d.    Nonresidential structures that are elevated, not floodproofed, must meet the same standards for space below the lowest floor as described in subsection 30.050B1b.

e.    Applicants floodproofing nonresidential buildings shall be notified that flood insurance premiums will be based on rates that are one foot below the floodproofed level (e.g., as building constructed to the base flood level will be rated as one foot below that level.)

3.    Manufactured Homes. All manufactured homes to be placed or substantially improved within zone A1-30, AH, AE and A as designated on the flood insurance rate map shall be elevated on a permanent foundation such that the lowest floor of the manufactured home is two feet above the base flood elevation and be securely anchored to an adequately anchored foundation system in accordance with the provisions of subsection A.1.b of this section.

4.    Recreational vehicles placed within zone A1-30, AH, AE and A as designated on the flood insurance rate map are required to either:

a.    Be on the site for fewer than one hundred eighty consecutive days; or

b.    Be fully licensed and ready for highway use, on wheels or jacking system, attached to the site only by quick disconnect type utilities and security devices, and have no permanently attached additions; or

c.    Meet the requirements of subsection B.3 of this section and the elevation and anchoring requirements for manufactured homes.

C.    Floodway Standards. Located within areas of special flood hazard established in Section 30.030.A are areas designated as floodways. Since the floodway is an extremely hazardous area due to the velocity of floodwaters which carry debris, potential projectiles and erosion potential, the following provisions apply:

1.    Encroachments. The cumulative effect of any proposed development, where combined with all other existing and proposed development, shall not increase the water surface elevation of the base flood more than one foot at any point in the community.

2.    Prohibit encroachments, including fill, new construction, substantial improvements, and other development, unless certification by a registered professional engineer is provided demonstrating through hydrologic and hydraulic analyses performed in accordance with standard engineering practice that the proposed encroachment would not result in any increase in flood levels during the occurrence of the base flood discharge.

3.    If subsections C.1 and C.2 of this section are satisfied, all new construction and substantial improvements shall comply with all applicable flood hazard reduction provisions of this section, standards for flood hazard reduction. (Ord. 2856-05 §§ 7—10, 2005; Ord. 1729-90 § 15, 1990; Ord. 1671-89 (part), 1989.)

19.30.060 Administration.

A.    The planning director shall administer and enforce this chapter and his or her designee will examine all development permits to determine that all necessary permits have been obtained from those federal, state or local governmental agencies from which prior approval is required.

1.    Duties of the planning director shall include, but not be limited to:

a.    Use of Other Base Flood Data. When base flood elevation data has not been provided in accordance with Section 30.020.A, basis for establishing the areas of special flood hazard, the planning director shall obtain, review and reasonably utilize any base flood elevation and floodway data available from a federal, state or other source in order to administer Sections 30.050.B, specific standards, and 30.050.C, floodway standards.

b.    Information to be Obtained and Maintained.

(1)    Where base flood elevation data is provided through the Flood Insurance Study or required as in subsection A.1.a of this section, obtain and record the actual elevation (in relation to mean sea level) of the lowest floor (including basement) of all new or substantially improved structures, and whether or not the structure contains a basement.

(2)    For all new or substantially improved floodproofed structures;

(a)    Verify and record the actual elevation (in relation to mean sea level), and

(b)    Maintain the floodproofing certifications required in subsection 30.060.C.3.

(3)    Maintain for public inspection all records pertaining to the provisions of this title.

c.    Alteration of Watercourses.

(1)    Notify adjacent communities, the Washington State Departments of Fisheries and Wildlife and the Washington State Department of Ecology prior to any alteration or relocation of a watercourse, and submit evidence of such notification to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

(2)    Require that maintenance is provided within the altered or relocated portion of said watercourse so that the flood-carrying capacity is not diminished.

d.    Interpretation of FIRM Boundaries. Make interpretations where needed, as to exact location of the boundaries of the area of special flood hazards (for example, where there appears to be a conflict between a mapped boundary and actual field conditions). The person contesting the location of the boundary shall be given a reasonable opportunity to appeal the interpretation as provided in Section 19.30.090.

B.    Permits Required. A shoreline permit or floodplain development permit shall be obtained before construction or development begins within any area of special flood hazard established in Section 30.020.A. The permit shall be for all structures including manufactured homes, as set forth in Section 19.04.020, and for all development including fill and other activities, also as set forth in Section 19.04.020.

1.    Shoreline Permit Required. All permitted and conditional uses within the floodway and flood fringe district which also meet the requirements for a shoreline permit shall obtain said permit, using the review processes as described in Title 15, Local Project Review Procedures, prior to obtaining construction permits. Compliance with floodplain requirements shall be addressed within the scope of the shoreline permit process and a floodplain development permit, including a FEMA elevation certificate, must be obtained for all structures to be constructed in the floodplain. The shoreline permit shall be obtained prior to application for building permits.

2.    Construction or substantial improvement of any building or structure and substantial improvement or reconstruction after damage of nonconforming buildings in the floodway and flood fringe shall be required to obtain a floodplain development permit. Permitted and conditional uses shall be reviewed using review processes as described in Title 15, Local Project Review Procedures, and, when in compliance with this section, shall be issued a floodplain development permit prior to application for building or public works permits.

Normal maintenance and repair shall be exempt from obtaining a floodplain development permit.

3.    Nothing in this chapter shall relieve the applicant from obtaining all required permits, licenses and approvals required for the proposed project under applicable federal, state and local provisions of law.

C.    Application for Permit. Application for permits shall be made on forms furnished by the city and may include but not be limited to: plans drawn to scale showing the nature, location, dimensions and elevations of the area in question; existing or proposed structures, fill, storage of materials, drainage facilities, and the location of the foregoing. Specifically, the following information is required:

1.    Elevation in relation to mean sea level, of the lowest floor (including basement) of all structures;

2.    Elevation in relation to mean sea level to which any structure has been floodproofed;

3.    Certification by a registered professional engineer or architect that the floodproofing methods for any nonresidential structure meet the floodproofing criteria in Section 30.050.B.2; and

4.    Description of the extent to which a watercourse will be altered or relocated as a result of proposed development. (Ord. 2856-05 §§ 11, 12, 13, 2005; Ord. 2538-01 §§ 18, 19, 2001; Ord. 1849-92 § 18, 1992; Ord. 1729-90 § 16, 1990; Ord. 1671-89 (part), 1989.)

19.30.070 Nonconforming uses.

A.    Notwithstanding any provisions found in the city’s zoning code, for purposes of this title any structure or the use of a structure or premises in the floodway or flood fringe which was lawful before the effective date of the ordinance codified in this title but which is not in conformity with the provisions of this title may be continued subject to the following conditions:

1.    No such use shall be substantially (see definition of “substantial improvement” in Section 4.020.D) improved except in conformance with Chapter 19.30.

2.    If a nonconforming use or structure is destroyed by any means, including floods, to an extent of fifty percent or more of its value before the damage occurred, it shall not be reconstructed except in conformity with the provisions of this section.

3.    Residential structures in the floodway shall conform to requirements of Section 30.030.B.2. (Ord. 1671-89 (part), 1989.)

19.30.080 Variances.

A.    Variance Process. See Section 19.41.130 and Title 15, Local Project Review Procedures.

B.    The planning director shall report any variances to the Federal Insurance Administration upon request.

C.    Basis for Issuance of Variances.

1.    Variances may be issued for the reconstruction, rehabilitation or restoration of structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places or the State Inventory of Historic Places, without regard to the procedures set forth in this section.

2.    Variances shall not be issued within a designated floodway if any increase in flood levels during the base flood discharge would result.

3.    Variances shall only be issued upon a determination that the variance is the minimum necessary, considering the flood hazard, to afford relief.

4.    Notwithstanding the criteria set forth in Section 19.41.130 of this title, variances from the requirements of this section shall only be issued upon:

a.    A showing of good and sufficient cause;

b.    A determination that failure to grant the variance would result in exceptional hardship to the applicant;

c.    A determination that the granting of a variance will not result in increased flood heights, additional threats to public safety, extraordinary public expense, create nuisances, or conflict with existing local laws or ordinances.

5.    Variances as interpreted in the National Flood Insurance Program are based on the general zoning law principle that they pertain to a physical piece of property, they are not personal in nature and do not pertain to the structure, its inhabitants, economic or financial circumstances.

6.    Variances may be issued for nonresidential buildings in very limited circumstances to allow a lesser degree of floodproofing than watertight or dry floodproofing, where it can be determined that such action will have low damage potential, complies with all other variance criteria except Section 30.080.C.1, and otherwise complies with Sections 30.050.A.1 and 30.050.A.2 of the general standards.

7.    Any applicant to whom a variance is granted shall be given written notice that the cost of flood insurance will be commensurate with the increased risk resulting from the reduced lowest floor elevation. (Ord. 3676-19 § 39, 2019; Ord. 2538-01 § 20, 2001; Ord. 1671-89 (part), 1989.)

19.30.090 Appeals.

A.    Appeal of variances shall be as provided in Section 41.130.F.6.b.

B.    The hearing examiner shall hear and decide appeals when it is alleged there is an error in any requirement, decision or determination made by the planning director in the enforcement or administration of this chapter. The action of the hearing examiner shall constitute a decision.

C.    In reviewing such appeals, the hearing examiner shall consider all technical evaluations, all relevant factors, standards specified in other subsections of this chapter, and

1.    The danger that materials may be swept onto other lands to the injury of others;

2.    The danger to life and property due to flooding or erosion damage;

3.    The susceptibility of the proposed facility and its contents to flood damage and the effect of such damage on the individual owner;

4.    The importance of the services provided by the proposed facility to the community;

5.    The availability of alternative locations for the proposed use which are not subject to flooding or erosion damage;

6.    The compatibility of the proposed use with existing and anticipated development;

7.    The relationship of the proposed use to the comprehensive plan and floodplain management program for that area;

8.    The safety of access to the property in times of flood for ordinary and emergency vehicles;

9.    The expected heights, velocity, duration, rate of rise and sediment transport of the floodwaters and the effects of wave action, if applicable, expected at the site; and

10.    The costs of providing governmental services during and after flood conditions, including maintenance and repair of public utilities and facilities such as sewer, gas, electrical and water systems and streets and bridges. (Ord. 1671-89 (part), 1989.)