Chapter 19.120
CLEARING, GRADING, AND TREE AND VEGETATION RETENTION

Sections:

Article I. Purpose, Applicability, and Application Requirements

19.120.010    Purpose.

19.120.020    Applicability.

19.120.030    Exemptions.

19.120.040    Application requirements.

19.120.050    Modifications.

19.120.060    Review and approval of clearing, grading, and tree/vegetation retention plans.

Article II. Clearing and Grading Regulations

19.120.070    General provisions.

19.120.080    Clearing and grading and land disturbance limits.

19.120.090    Aesthetics.

19.120.100    Cut and fill slopes.

19.120.110    Clearing and grading standards for sites with slopes of 15 percent or greater.

19.120.120    Rockeries and retaining walls.

Article III. Tree and Vegetation Retention Requirements

19.120.130    Tree and vegetation retention standards.

19.120.140    Off-site mitigation and fees paid in lieu.

19.120.150    Replacement tree species and minimum size requirements.

19.120.160    Tree and vegetation protection during construction.

19.120.170    City forestry account.

Article IV. Forest Practices Regulations

19.120.180    Authority.

19.120.190    Relationship to Chapter 76.09 RCW.

19.120.200    Forest practice application requirements.

19.120.210    Time limitations – Expiration of approvals.

Article V. Performance Assurance, Maintenance and Enforcement

19.120.220    Revegetation.

19.120.230    Maintenance.

19.120.240    Performance assurance.

19.120.250    Project inspections – City access.

19.120.260    Stop work orders and corrective actions.

19.120.270    Compliance and enforcement.

Article I. Purpose, Applicability, and Application Requirements

19.120.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this article is:

(1) To promote the public health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Federal Way without preventing the reasonable development of land.

(2) To promote building and site planning practices that are consistent with natural topography, soils, and vegetative features, and minimize disturbance to vegetation and soils.

(3) To preserve and enhance the city of Federal Way’s physical and aesthetic character by preventing untimely and indiscriminate removal or destruction of trees and vegetation and preserving important landscape characteristics that define aesthetic character, such as trees, important vegetation species, and unique landforms or other natural features to the maximum extent possible.

(4) To establish and maintain the urban tree canopy and its benefits including:

(a) Moderating the effects of wind and temperature;

(b) Minimizing the impacts of impervious surfaces;

(c) Stabilizing and enriching the soil;

(d) Improving air quality;

(e) Improving water quality;

(f) Masking unwanted sound;

(g) Providing visual relief and screening buffers;

(h) Providing recreational benefits;

(i) Enhancing the economic value of developments; and

(j) Preserving and enhancing a valuable asset to the community as a whole.

(5) To establish procedures and review criteria for approval of Class IV – General forest practices.

(6) To encourage site development, including clearing, excavation, and filling, in such a manner as to minimize hazards to life, health, and property.

(7) To minimize surface water and ground water run-off and diversion which may contribute to increased instability, sedimentation, or turbidity in streams, lakes, or other water bodies.

(8) To minimize the need for additional storm drainage facilities.

(9) To protect fish, wildlife, and their habitats by promoting the retention and restoration of vegetation in habitat areas.

(10) To ensure prompt development, restoration, replanting, and effective erosion control of property after land clearing and grading.

(Ord. No. 09-611, § 3(Exh. A), 4-7-09; Ord. No. 09-610, § 4(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

19.120.020 Applicability.

(1) This article shall not apply to development proposals that submitted a complete application prior to the effective date of the ordinance codified in this chapter.

(2) Clearing and grading plan approval required. No person shall remove any trees, make changes or cause changes to be made in the surface of any land by clearing, grading, filling, or drainage alteration in the city of Federal Way without first obtaining approval of a clearing and grading plan by the director; except for those activities that are exempt as described in FWRC 19.120.030.

(3) Tree and vegetation retention plan approval required. No person shall remove any trees on a site without first obtaining approval of a tree retention plan by the director; except for those activities that are exempt as described in FWRC 19.120.030. Tree and vegetation removal may also require Class IV – General forest practices application approval as administered by the city of Federal Way per FWRC 19.120.180 et seq.

(4) Application review process.

(a) Activities requiring clearing and grading plan approval; tree and vegetation retention plan approval; and/or Class IV – General forest practices application shall be reviewed and approved in conjunction with the underlying building or land development permit application associated with the proposed activity(ies).

(b) Proposed clearing, grading, and/or tree and vegetation removal activities that are not associated with a proposed building or land development activity, nor exempt per FWRC 19.120.030, may be approved through Process III, subject to the following criteria:

(i) Except as allowed under this chapter, it will not alter or adversely affect streams, lakes, wetlands, or geologically hazardous areas, either on or off the subject property.

(ii) It will not violate any express policy of the city.

(iii) It meets at least one of the following criteria:

(A) It is necessary to correct an erosion or drainage problem on an undeveloped site.

(B) It is necessary to create new utility or access corridors.

(C) Other unusual circumstances exist which make it reasonable to permit clearing, grading, and/or tree and vegetation removal in advance of the issuance of a development permit, subdivision, or short subdivision approval, or shoreline substantial development permit.

(Ord. No. 09-611, § 3(Exh. A), 4-7-09; Ord. No. 09-610, § 4(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

19.120.030 Exemptions.

Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to allow clearing, grading, and/or the removal of trees or other vegetation within sensitive areas or sensitive area buffers where prohibited under FWRC Title 19, Division IV, Critical Areas, or in designated native growth protection areas. Clearing and grading activities are also subject to review under Appendix Chapter J of the International Building Code.

The following actions shall be exempt from the provisions of this article:

(1) Digging and filling for cemetery graves.

(2) Clearing and grading in a right-of-way authorized in writing by the director of the department of public works for pothole and square cut patching; overlaying existing asphalt or concrete pavement with asphalt or concrete without expanding the area of coverage; shoulder grading; reshaping/regrading drainage systems; crack sealing; resurfacing with in-kind material without expanding the road prism; and vegetation maintenance.

(3) Mining, quarrying, excavating, processing, stockpiling of rock, sand, gravel, aggregate, or clay where a permit has been issued by the State Department of Natural Resources.

(4) Exploratory excavations under the direction of a professional engineer licensed in the state; provided, that the extent of the clearing and grading does not exceed the minimum necessary to obtain the desired information.

(5) Normal maintenance and repair of the facilities of a common carrier by rail in interstate commerce within its existing right-of-way.

(6) Excavations for utility service connections to serve existing and/or new structures and that is outside any area that is within the jurisdiction of Chapter 19.145 FWRC.

(7) Actions which must be undertaken immediately, or within a time too short to allow for compliance with the requirements of this article, to avoid an imminent threat to public health or safety; to prevent an imminent danger to public or private property; or to prevent an imminent threat of serious environmental degradation. This determination will be made by the director.

(8) Clearing and grading actions that are an integral part of an ongoing agricultural or horticultural use on the subject property.

(9) Tree and vegetation removal actions conducted on a residential lot that contains a detached dwelling unit together with any contiguous lots under the same ownership that are being maintained for the use and enjoyment of the homeowner that comply with the following criteria:

(a) Any trees or vegetation removed must be outside any area that is within the jurisdiction of Chapter 19.145 FWRC.

(b) No trees or vegetation will be removed if that vegetation was required to be retained by or through any development permit issued under this chapter or any prior zoning code.

(c) Tree and vegetation removal will not change the points where the stormwater or groundwater enters or exits the subject property and will not change the quality, or velocity of stormwater or groundwater.

(d) Trees with a diameter at breast height (dbh) of up to six inches and vegetation may be removed without city review and approval if criteria (9)(a) through (c) of this section are met.

(e) Trees with a dbh of six inches or greater may be removed subject to the minimum tree units per acre standard established by Table 19.120.130-1 and subject to criteria (9)(a) through (c) of this section.

(f) Removal of trees with a dbh of six inches or greater that will result in the subject property falling below the minimum tree units per acre standard per Table 19.120.130-1 shall require planting of replacement trees as necessary to meet the minimum tree units per acre standard, or the existing tree units per acre represented by the trees proposed for removal, whichever is less.

(g) Hazard trees and nuisance vegetation may be removed without city review and approval if criteria (9)(a) through (c) of this section are met.

(10) Clearing and grading actions that comply with all of the following criteria:

(a) The subject property contains a permanent building or an active use.

(b) The clearing or grading activity will not change the points where the stormwater or groundwater enters or exits the subject property, and will not change the quality or velocity of stormwater or groundwater.

(c) The clearing or grading activity is outside any area that is within the jurisdiction of Chapter 19.145 FWRC.

(d) Grading, filling, and excavation totals less than 100 cubic yards. Quantities of excavation and fill are calculated separately and then added together to determine total excavation and fill.

(e) No trees or vegetation will be removed if that vegetation was required to be retained by or through any development permit issued under this chapter or any prior zoning code.

(11) Routine maintenance of trees and vegetation necessary to maintain the health of cultivated plants. Topping of trees as defined in Chapter 19.05 FWRC is considered tree removal, not maintenance.

(12) Removal of overhanging vegetation and fire hazards, or removal of invasive species, hazard trees, nuisance vegetation, or dead, dangerous, or diseased trees when authorized by the director or his/her designee.

(13) Removal of trees in easements and rights-of-way for the purposes of constructing public streets and utilities. Protection of trees shall be a major factor in the location, design, construction, and maintenance of streets and utilities. These activities are subject to the purpose and intent of this article.

(14) Removal of trees on sites zoned city center core (CC-C) and city center frame (CC-F).

(Ord. No. 09-630, § 34, 10-20-09; Ord. No. 09-610, § 4(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

19.120.040 Application requirements.

(1) In addition to the requirements of FWRC 19.15.040, a clearing and grading plan shall be submitted and include the following information:

(a) Name of person preparing the map, drawing or diagram submitted with the application, along with credentials if applicable.

(b) Identification of existing slope depicting: areas with zero percent to 15 percent slope; areas with 15 percent to 40 percent slope; and areas of 40 percent or greater slope.

(c) Proposed grades.

(d) Location of all existing and/or proposed structures, driveways, right-of-way improvements, utilities, and easements on the subject property.

(e) Designation of all wetlands, streams, and other critical areas regulated under Chapter 19.145 FWRC that is on or within 200 feet of any area to be disturbed by the proposed clearing and/or grading action.

(f) Areas proposed for clearing and the proposed use for such areas.

(g) Any proposed grade changes that might adversely affect or endanger trees on the property and/or adjacent properties, and specifications to maintain them.

(h) A minimum of two cross sections of the site, drawn to scale, depicting the existing and proposed grade and any proposed rockeries and/or retaining walls. The director may also require a three-dimensional topographic model of existing and proposed topographic conditions.

(i) Location and description of proposed erosion-control devices and structures.

(j) A geotechnical report, prepared by a geotechnical engineer, when required by the director and/or per critical area ordinance provisions for qualified professional reports that contains sufficient information to determine the potential impacts of the proposed clearing and grading, as well as proposed measures to reduce or eliminate these impacts, as may be required by the city.

(2) When a tree/vegetation retention plan in accordance with this article is required, it shall be incorporated into the clearing and grading drawings and shall become part of all construction documentation. The tree/vegetation plan must be prepared by a certified arborist or a certified landscape architect and include the following information:

(a) A statement outlining the purpose of any proposed tree removal (e.g., building construction, street or roadway, driveway, recreation area, patio, or parking lot), together with a proposed timetable for when the work will occur.

(b) A tree survey that identifies the location, approximate size, species, and number of trees on the site and also identifies the general location of trees within 50 feet of the site. For heavily forested sites, the director may allow a tree survey sample to be submitted that may be applied to the forested portions of a site in order to satisfy the tree survey requirement.

(c) A depiction of the spatial limits for tree/vegetation retention areas and details of tree/ vegetation protection measures.

(d) A depiction of any new vegetated areas to be established.

(e) The manner in which the cleared areas on the property will be reclaimed with vegetation, specification of any required mitigation plantings, and a timetable for replanting.

(Ord. No. 09-610, § 4(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

19.120.050 Modifications.

(1) Purpose. The purpose of this section is to provide a process for requesting modification from the general standards specified in this article. The director shall have the authority, consistent with the criteria provided herein, to modify specific requirements, or impose additional requirements in unique or special circumstances to assure the fulfillment of the stated purposes of this article. The applicant must demonstrate one or more of the following in order to obtain approval of a modification request:

(a) There are no feasible and reasonable alternatives to the clearing, grading or tree/vegetation removal activity being proposed;

(b) The proposed modification will result in the same or less impacts than meeting the standards;

(c) The proposed modification will meet or exceed the intent of this article;

(d) Meeting the standards would create an unacceptable risk to health or safety.

(2) Modification submittal requirements. A request for modification shall:

(a) Be submitted in the same form and according to the same terms as the required clearing and grading and/or tree and vegetation retention plan documents of this article and subject to the same enforcement requirements;

(b) Be clearly labeled as “Clearing and Grading, and/or Tree and Vegetation Retention Modification Plan”; and

(c) Clearly delineate and identify the deviations requested from the provisions of this article.

(Ord. No. 09-610, § 4(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

19.120.060 Review and approval of clearing, grading, and tree/vegetation retention plans.

(1) Review of plans required under this article shall be conducted as follows:

(a) Where clearing and grading plans and/or tree and vegetation retention plans are required, the plans and/or application shall be reviewed by the departments of public works and community development services. Plan review approvals under this section are subject to the provisions of FWRC Title 16, Surface Water Management.

(b) Where the city determines that clearing and grading plans and/or tree and vegetation retention plans shall also be reviewed by the city’s consultant(s), the applicant shall cover the cost of the third party review.

(c) Where project sites contain or are adjacent to electrical substations, utility rights-of-way and/or easements, the applicant must also obtain written comment from the appropriate utility representative(s) for any required clearing, grading, or tree/vegetation retention plans.

(2) Approval and notice to proceed shall be required prior to undertaking any clearing, grading, and/or tree and vegetation removal actions pursuant to the requirements of this section. Approval and notice to proceed shall not be issued until the applicant can demonstrate readiness to proceed with the site development work and the ability to complete such work in a timely manner. The following will be considered in determining readiness:

(a) The applicant shall have received engineering plan approval for erosion control and construction of required on-site infrastructure including, roadways and stormwater facilities as allowed by the public works director; and

(b) The applicant shall have received approval of a proposed project timeline that demonstrates how site development work and revegetation of the site shall be completed per approved revegetation and landscaping plans within 12 months of commencement of site work;

(c) Projects that will not be completed within 12 months of initial clearing, grading, and tree/ vegetation removal activity shall be required to submit plans for interim aesthetic treatment of the site in its cleared and nondeveloped state that shall be subject to review under subsection (1) of this section. Methods for addressing site aesthetics in cases where a project will not be completed within a 12 month period shall include:

(i) Phased clearing, grading, and tree/vegetation removal in conjunction with phased site development as follows:

(A) Phased clearing, grading, and tree/vegetation removal shall be considered for all projects that will not be completed within 12 months of, and up to five years from, commencement of clearing, grading and tree/vegetation removal activity.

(B) Phased clearing, grading and tree/vegetation removal shall be required for all projects that will not be completed within five years of commencement of clearing, grading and tree/ vegetation removal activity.

(ii) Installation of permanent vegetation per approved plans in cases where vegetation can become established and will not be harmed during completion of site work and building construction.

(iii) Temporary revegetation and/or vegetation retention per an approved plan that provides visual screening of the site from neighboring properties and rights-of way.

(3) Approval of plans under this article shall be binding upon the applicant. Any proposed changes to approved clearing, grading, and/or tree and vegetation retention plans shall be resubmitted for review and approval subject to the applicable review process(es) associated with the permit(s) required.

(Ord. No. 09-630, § 35, 10-20-09; Ord. No. 09-610, § 4(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

Article II. Clearing and Grading Regulations

19.120.070 General provisions.

(1) General. The applicant shall comply with this section with respect to all clearing and grading actions. The requirements of FWRC Title 19, Division V, Environmentally Critical Areas, shall govern for proposed clearing and grading actions occurring in all critical areas.

(2) Nature of fill materials. All materials used as structural fill must be nondissolving and nondecomposing. Fill materials must not contain organic or inorganic material that would be detrimental to water quality or existing habitat, or create any other significant adverse impacts to the environment.

(Ord. No. 09-610, § 4(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

19.120.080 Clearing and grading and land disturbance limits.

(1) Clearing and grading activities for developments shall be permitted in conjunction with an approved site development plan (e.g., subdivision approval, site plan approval, etc.) that establishes permitted areas of clearing, grading, cutting, and filling. Permitted clearing and grading areas should minimize removal of existing trees and minimize the disturbance or compaction of native soils, except as needed for building purposes. Permitted clearing and grading areas and any other areas required to preserve critical or sensitive areas, buffers, native growth protection easements, or required tree retention areas shall be delineated on the site plans.

(2) Prior to beginning clearing and grading activities, all clearing limits, sensitive areas and their buffers, and trees and vegetation that are to be preserved within and adjacent to the construction area shall be clearly marked, and protected per FWRC 19.120.160, to prevent damage.

(Ord. No. 09-610, § 4(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

19.120.090 Aesthetics.

(1) All natural vegetation shall be retained on the site except that which may be removed as shown on approved engineering plans.

(2) Clearing and grading shall minimize impacts to adjacent properties, and clearing, grading, and vegetation retention plans shall include protection measures for existing vegetation located on adjacent properties.

(3) If development is to be phased, clearing and grading shall also be phased unless an alternative plan for interim aesthetic treatment of the development site has been approved under FWRC 19.120.060(2)(c).

(4) Roads should follow existing contours in order to minimize grading.

(5) Development on sites with areas of slopes of 15 percent or greater shall comply with FWRC 19.120.110, development of sites with slopes of 15 percent or greater, in order to minimize grading and use of rockeries and retaining walls. Slopes are to be measured in their natural state.

(Ord. No. 09-610, § 4(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

19.120.100 Cut and fill slopes.

Cut and fill slopes shall be designed and constructed in a manner that will minimize erosion. In addition, slopes shall be stabilized in accordance with the requirements of this section. The applicant shall:

(1) Limit the maximum gradient of artificial slopes to no steeper than 33 percent or 3:1 (three feet of horizontal run to one foot of vertical fall) except that:

(a) Slopes for roadways may be constructed at a maximum slope of 2:1 (two feet of horizontal run to one foot of vertical fall) upon approval of the director; and

(b) Slopes that do not exceed six feet in height may be constructed at a maximum slope of 2:1 (two feet of horizontal run to one foot of vertical fall).

(2) Cut and fill slopes shall be designed and constructed in a manner consistent with the applicable requirements of the King County Surface Water Design Manual as amended by the city of Federal Way and FWRC Title 16, Surface Water Management, and Chapter 19.142 FWRC.

(Ord. No. 09-610, § 4(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

19.120.110 Clearing and grading standards for sites with slopes of 15 percent or greater.

(1) The provisions of this section shall apply to development in areas with slopes of 15 percent or greater and with a vertical relief of six or more feet and a vertical rise of six feet or more for every 40 feet of horizontal distance. The provisions of this section are intended to specifically promote the following:

(a) Undertake development in a manner that will protect life and property from hazards due to slope, unstable and erodible soils, earth movement, and other geologic and hydrologic hazards;

(b) Reduce potential for increased erosion, sedimentation, and surface runoff, and the resulting adverse impacts on water quality;

(c) Promote a safe means of ingress and egress for vehicular and pedestrian traffic in sloped areas;

(d) Preserve the visual quality of sloped areas, which are a valuable natural and economic resource; and

(e) Encourage innovative and imaginative site development techniques to create structures and site plans that are suited to sloped terrain. For example, tuck-under garages and daylight basements are encouraged to integrate homes into existing topography and minimize grading.

(2) Sites containing or within 25 feet of slopes of 40 percent or greater (steep slope hazard area) and/or sites with erosion, landslide, and/or seismic hazard areas are also subject to the requirements of FWRC Title 19, Division V, Environmentally Critical Areas.

(3) These standards do not apply to isolated slope areas that are less than 5,000 square feet in land area. For purposes of this provision, the entire contiguous area with slopes measuring 15 percent or greater shall be included in the minimum size calculation regardless of the number of individual lots or different land ownerships involved.

(4) Residential land divisions on sites with slopes of 15 percent or greater are encouraged to implement the following standards in order to minimize clearing and grading necessary to support development on individual lots.

(a) Lot size averaging may be utilized for residential land divisions on sites that contain areas with slopes in excess of 15 percent as well as areas with slopes less than 15 percent as follows:

(i) More steeply sloped portions of a site shall have larger lots resulting in a reduced percentage of lot disturbed for construction. In no case shall any lot created with a slope of 15 percent or greater be less than the minimum lot size of the underlying zoning district.

(ii) Reduced lot sizes may be allowed within the portions of the site that are less than 15 percent slope. Minimum lot size may be reduced by up to 50 percent of minimum lot size requirement of the underlying zoning designation, but in no case less than 5,000 square feet for each single-family residential building lot, and no less than 1,800 square feet for each small lot single-family or zero lot line townhouse lot.

(iii) The maximum allowable density of the underlying zoning district shall not be exceeded for the overall development for which lot size averaging is being applied.

(b) As an alternative to lot size averaging, cluster development may be employed, pursuant to FWRC 18.55.040, in order to limit disturbance of sloped areas of a site. Cluster development should be employed where this option will result in successful retention of mature tree canopy and native vegetation.

(5) Grading plans for residential land divisions shall show that each parcel created by the land division is a suitable building site and show the following on the plan drawings:

(a) Setbacks;

(b) Driveways;

(c) Proposed building envelope; and

(d) Usable rear yard area a minimum of 10 feet deep.

(6) Front yard setbacks for single-family residential development on lots with a slope of 15 percent or greater may be applied in a flexible manner where such application will protect slopes and natural features from development encroachments. However, a minimum front yard setback of 10 feet must be maintained in all cases, and a minimum 20 foot setback shall apply to garages, unless the garage and driveway are oriented in such a way as to provide minimum 20 feet length of parking area in front of the garage within the property boundaries.

(Ord. No. 09-610, § 4(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

19.120.120 Rockeries and retaining walls.

When incorporating rockeries and retaining walls into site design, the applicant shall work with the site topography in order to minimize the need for rockeries and retaining walls. When rockeries and/or retaining walls are utilized, the following standards shall apply:

(1) For single-family residential lots, rockeries and retaining walls shall be:

(a) A maximum of six feet in height as measured from finished grade at base of wall to top of wall.

(b) Composed of brick, rockery, textured or patterned concrete, or other masonry product that complements the proposed building and site development. Other materials may be used with the approval of the community development services and public works directors.

(c) There shall be a minimum setback of one foot for every foot in rockery or retaining wall height between the rear of a residential building and any rockery or retaining wall; provided, that a usable space equal to the rear yard setback must always be maintained.

(2) For detention/retention ponds, rockeries and retaining walls shall be a maximum of six feet in height as measured from finished grade at base of wall to top of wall around the detention/retention pond.

(3) For commercial and multifamily lots, rockeries and retaining walls shall be:

(a) A maximum of six feet in height as measured from finished grade at base of wall to top of wall.

(b) There shall be a minimum three-foot landscaped setback at the base of each rockery or retaining wall.

(4) The width of the terrace between any two vertical rockeries and/or retaining walls shall be a minimum of five horizontal feet to allow for landscaping and maintenance.

(5) Terraces created between rockeries and/or retaining walls shall be permanently landscaped and revegetated with Type III landscaping as specified in FWRC 19.125.050(3).

(6) Rockeries and retaining walls shall be set back a minimum of three feet from adjacent public rights-of-way. The area between the right-of-way and the retaining wall shall be landscaped and maintained per applicable standards in Chapter 19.125 FWRC, Article I, Landscaping. If private agreements are reached with utility companies and written documentation is provided to the city, and a minimum three-foot wide planting buffer can be established and maintained to screen the wall from view, retaining walls can be located to the back of the right-of-way as determined by the community development services and public works directors.

(7) Rockeries and retaining walls visible from a public right-of-way or adjacent property shall be composed of rock, brick, or other textured/patterned wall styles as approved by the planning and public works director. Rockeries and retaining walls shall be landscaped in accordance with the applicable standards in Chapter 19.125 FWRC, Article I, Landscaping.

(Ord. No. 09-610, § 4(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

Article III. Tree and Vegetation Retention Requirements

19.120.130 Tree and vegetation retention standards.

(1) Retention required. Existing trees and vegetation in good health, and not considered to be invasive species, shall be retained on the subject property to the maximum extent possible in all developments as follows:

(a) Site and building development shall take into consideration the location of existing stands of healthy trees both on site and on adjacent properties. Where safe and feasible, the meandering of streets and/or sidewalks around existing stands of trees is encouraged.

(b) Minimum tree density – New uses on vacant or redeveloping parcels. The tree density requirements will be met primarily through the conservation of existing trees. However, in order to provide for continued flexibility in the design of new development, in those situations where a development’s design would preclude the retention of the required number of trees, the use of replacement or supplemental tree planting is authorized. The minimum tree density for each land use designation is specified in Table 19.120.130-1.

(c) Sites with insufficient tree cover. It is recognized that some sites may not contain a sufficient number of existing trees to meet the tree density standards set forth in Table 19.120.130-1. In those situations, additional trees are to be planted as necessary to achieve the minimum tree density requirements of this section. Modification of the requirements of this subsection (1)(c) may be obtained under FWRC 19.120.050.

(2) Tree density requirements. All regulated activity shall ensure that the following tree densities shall be achieved and maintained during and after development:

Table 19.120.130-1 – Minimum Tree Density Requirements for Vacant or Redeveloping Sites

Land Use Designation

Required Tree Unit Density1,2

BC, BN, CE, OP, PO

20 tree units/acre

SF Residential zones

25 tree units/acre

RM 1800, RM 2400, RM 3600

30 tree units/acre

1    Trees that are damaged, diseased, are a hazard or nuisance or invasive species shall not be credited towards satisfying the tree units per acre requirement as noted in Table 19.120.130-1; provided, at the discretion of the city, damaged or diseased or standing dead trees may be retained and counted toward the tree requirement, if it is demonstrated that such trees will provide important wildlife habitat and are not classified as dangerous trees.

2    Trees located within critical area buffers shall be credited towards satisfying the tree units per acre requirement as noted in Table 19.120.130-1. Critical area buffers shall comply with the requirements set forth in FWRC Title 19, Division V.

(3) Calculation of the total tree units required. The total number of tree units required to be provided by a regulated activity shall be calculated by multiplying gross site acreage, minus any proposed public or private streets and regulated critical areas (excluding buffers) determined by Federal Way to be undesirable for tree planting (e.g., certain wildlife habitat and wetlands), by the required tree density (in tree units per acre) set forth in Table 19.120.130-1. The result of the calculation will be the total number of tree units required for the activity. If the calculation results in a fractional quantity, it shall be rounded up to the next higher whole number.

(4) Tree unit credits. The number of tree unit credits given for retaining existing trees, or the planting of new trees, varies in order to encourage the retention of large existing trees and the planting of replacement trees that provide greater canopy areas at maturity. Tree unit credits for the retention of existing trees and the planting of new trees shall be awarded as follows:

Table 19.120.130-2 – Tree Unit Credits

Existing Tree Category

Tree Unit Credit

Existing Tree 1" to 6" d.b.h.

1.0 tree units per tree retained

Existing Tree > 6" to 12" d.b.h.

1.5 tree units per tree retained

Existing Tree > 12" to 18" d.b.h.

2.0 tree units per tree retained

Existing Tree > 18" to 24" d.b.h.

2.5 tree units per tree retained

Existing Tree > 24" d.b.h.

3.0 tree units per tree retained

Replacement Tree Category

 

Replacement Tree, Small Canopy Species (Mature canopy area < 450 SF)

.50 tree units per tree planted

Replacement Tree, Medium Canopy Species (Mature canopy area 450 to 1,250 SF)

1.0 tree units per tree planted

Replacement Tree, Large Canopy Species (Mature canopy area > 1,250 SF)

1.5 tree units per tree planted

(5) Tree retention requirements – Expansion of existing uses. Expansion of existing commercial, industrial, and multifamily properties which do not conform to the tree density requirements of this chapter shall be subject to the following tree conservation requirements whenever such expansion would result in a greater than a 10 percent or 500 square foot increase in the size of the existing building footprint or associated impervious areas (parking lots, storage areas, etc.), whichever is less:

(a) A minimum of one tree unit shall be provided for each 500 square feet of building expansion or new construction; and

(b) A minimum of three tree units shall be provided for each tree unit removed, up to a maximum of 25 tree units per acre.

(6) No clearing, grading, or other approvals for vegetation removal at a site shall be approved until such time as the city of Federal Way has approved any associated landscaping or tree retention plans.

(7) Tree and vegetation retention areas shall be protected during construction through application of the standards contained in FWRC 19.120.160, Tree and vegetation protection during construction.

(Ord. No. 09-610, § 4(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

19.120.140 Off-site mitigation and fees paid in lieu.

Where an applicant cannot provide for the minimum required tree units per acre on site, off-site mitigation or a fee-in-lieu payment into the city’s urban forestry account may be approved by the director.

(1) Where off-site mitigation is utilized, the remaining balance of required tree units must be planted at an off-site location approved by the director. Where the site is city-owned property, the public works and/or parks department must also approve the tree planting. Acceptable off-site locations, in order of priority, are as follows:

(a) Publicly owned land in the city of Federal Way including but not limited to: environmentally sensitive areas; regional stormwater facilities; or wildlife corridors. Similar lands owned by nonprofit entities that are reserved in open space also qualify.

(b) Publicly owned parks or recreational facilities within the city of Federal Way.

(c) Other mitigation or restoration sites managed by other public entities or private conservation groups.

(d) Public school sites within the city of Federal Way.

(e) Other sites proposed by the applicant, when it is documented that higher priority sites are not available or viable.

(2) Where a tree replacement fee is utilized, a tree replacement fee paid into the city’s urban forestry account may be approved by the director. The fee shall be established based on the number of tree units being satisfied as follows:

(a) Each tree unit shall represent one replacement tree. The fee for each replacement tree shall cover the cost of a tree, installation (labor and equipment), maintenance for two years, and fund administration.

(b) A separate urban forestry account shall be established by the city for fees collected. Tree replacement fee receipts shall be earmarked specifically for this account and shall be expended only for the planting of new trees in city-owned parks, open spaces, or rights-of-way.

(Ord. No. 09-610, § 4(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

19.120.150 Replacement tree species and minimum size requirements.

(1) Where tree replacement is required in order to achieve minimum tree units per acre, the replacement trees shall consist of a mix of evergreen and deciduous trees, suitable to specific site conditions.

(2) Replacement tree species shall be selected from a list of approved tree species maintained by the department of community development services. All species listed are suited to the climate conditions found in the Pacific Northwest. The list is for guidance only and is not intended to be all-inclusive. Other tree species may be utilized where appropriate when recommended by a professional forester, certified arborist, or licensed landscape architect.

(3) Size of replacement trees. Replacement trees shall be evergreen trees a minimum of six feet in height and deciduous trees with a minimum two inches caliper.

(Ord. No. 09-610, § 4(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

19.120.160 Tree and vegetation protection during construction.

(1) No clearing shall be allowed on a proposed development site until the tree retention and landscape plans have been approved by the city of Federal Way.

(2) A no disturbance area shall be established for each tree to be protected. The no disturbance zone shall be equal to the critical root zone which is defined as 12 inches radius for every one inch of tree diameter measured at four and one-half feet above ground. Any other no disturbance area proposed by the applicant shall be determined by a qualified arborist and subject to review and approval by the director.

(3) The no disturbance zone shall be identified during the construction stage with:

(a) A temporary five-foot chain-link fence; and

(b) Tree protection signage attached to the fence which reads “TREE PROTECTION FENCE – No soil disturbance, parking, storage, dumping, or burning of materials is allowed within the Tree Protection Fence.”

(4) No soil disturbance, parking, storage, dumping, burning of materials, impervious surfaces, fill, excavation, or storage of construction materials shall be permitted within the no disturbance area.

(5) If the grade level around the tree is to be raised by more than one foot, a rock well shall be constructed. The inside diameter of the rock well shall be equal to the diameter of the tree trunk plus 10 feet. Proper drainage, and irrigation if necessary, shall be provided in all rock wells.

(6) The grade level shall not be lowered within the larger of the drip line of the tree(s) or the critical root zone of the tree(s).

(7) No trenching is allowed in any critical tree root zone areas.

(8) No installation of any impervious surfaces is allowed in critical root zones. Where road or sidewalk surfaces are needed within critical root zones, unmortared porous pavers or flagstone (rather than concrete or asphalt) may be used. Boardwalks or bridging may span root zones without harming the tree roots.

(9) Tree protection areas (i.e., critical root zone) must be prepared to better withstand the stresses of the construction phase by, if necessary, fertilizing, pruning, and mulching around them well in advance of beginning any construction activities.

(10) Alternative protection methods may be used if accepted by the director to provide equal or greater tree protection.

(11) Encroachment into the no disturbance area may be allowed where the director determines encroachment would not be detrimental to the health of the tree.

(Ord. No. 09-610, § 4(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

19.120.170 City forestry account.

(1) Funding sources. All civil penalties received from enforcement actions under this article and all money received pursuant to FWRC 19.120.140 shall be used for the purposes set forth in this section. In addition, the following sources may be used for the purposes set forth in this section:

(a) Sale of trees or wood from city property where the proceeds from such sale have not been dedicated to another purpose;

(b) Donations and grants for the purposes of the fund; and

(c) Other monies designated by the city council.

(2) Funding purposes. The city shall use money received pursuant to this section for the following purposes:

(a) Acquiring, maintaining, and preserving wooded areas within the city;

(b) Planting and maintaining trees within the city;

(c) Urban forestry education; or

(d) Other purposes relating to trees as determined by the city council.

(Ord. No. 09-610, § 4(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

Article IV. Forest Practices Regulations

19.120.180 Authority.

This article is established to regulate forest practices, Class IV – General, pursuant to Chapter 76.09 RCW and Chapter 222-20 WAC.

(Ord. No. 09-611, § 3(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

19.120.190 Relationship to Chapter 76.09 RCW.

(1) The application of this chapter to forest practice activities regulated by the Washington State Forest Practices Act (Chapter 76.09 RCW) shall be limited to Class IV – General forest practices.

(2) This article is intended to allow the city of Federal Way to assume jurisdiction for approval of Class IV – General forest practices approvals, occurring in the city of Federal Way, as authorized under the Washington State Forest Practices Act, Chapter 76.09 RCW. The city will act as the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) lead agency for all Class IV – General forest practice approvals occurring within the city limits.

(Ord. No. 09-611, § 3(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

19.120.200 Forest practice application requirements.

(1) General requirements.

(a) A Class IV – General application shall be approved based on an approved clearing and grading plan and tree and vegetation retention plan and prior to conducting forest practices on the project site.

(b) All Class IV – General applications shall describe the harvest method, including type of equipment to be used and the expected dates of commencement and completion of all harvest activities.

(2) Review criteria.

(a) Class IV – General forest practices shall comply with all applicable regulations and standards as adopted by the city.

(b) Class IV – General forest practices shall comply with the conditions of approval established through the associated development permit or approval.

(Ord. No. 09-611, § 3(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

19.120.210 Time limitations – Expiration of approvals.

A Class IV – General approval shall be valid for two consecutive years following the date of issuance unless a longer time period has been established through an associated approval (e.g., preliminary plat approval, land use approval, building permit, etc.) in which case the time limits applicable to the associated approval shall apply.

(Ord. No. 09-611, § 3(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

Article V. Performance Assurance, Maintenance and Enforcement

19.120.220 Revegetation.

Development sites shall be revegetated and landscaped as soon as practical after completion of clearing and grading work, in accordance with a revegetation plan established by a tree retention and/or landscape plan, approved by the director or his/her designee.

(1) A permanent revegetation plan, utilizing vegetation that is known to have a high natural survival rate, shall be implemented consistent with city of Federal Way landscaping and tree and vegetation retention and replacement requirements.

(2) Where permanent revegetation measures are not in place within seven days in the dry season and two days in the wet season, the applicant shall provide temporary revegetation or stabilization measures in accordance with the recommendations of the latest edition of ecology’s stormwater management manual for Western Washington, and maintain such measures in good condition until the permanent revegetation measures are installed and inspected by the city of Federal Way.

(3) Where permanent revegetation measures are not in place within 12 months of completion of clearing and grading work, the applicant shall be required to submit a plan for director approval that outlines interim measures for revegetation and aesthetic treatment of the site per FWRC 19.120.060(2)(c). Failure to submit a plan for interim measures as required by FWRC 19.120.060(2)(c) shall result in the application of compliance and enforcement measures per FWRC 19.120.270 of this article.

(4) Where permanent revegetation measures are not in place within five years of completion of clearing and grading work, the applicant shall be required to revegetate the site to meet the minimum tree density requirements of FWRC 19.120.130, Tree and vegetation retention requirements. Failure to revegetate the site per minimum tree density requirements of FWRC 19.120.130 shall result in the application of compliance and enforcement measures per FWRC 19.120.270 of this article.

(Ord. No. 09-610, § 4(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

19.120.230 Maintenance.

(1) All required replacement trees and relocated trees shown on an approved tree retention plan shall be maintained in healthy condition by the property owner throughout the life of the project, unless otherwise approved by the director in a subsequent tree retention plan.

(2) Cutting and pruning.

(a) Protected trees shall not be topped.

(b) Street trees shall be maintained in a healthy condition by the adjacent property owner and shall only be cut or pruned with the permission of the city of Federal Way public works department.

(c) Pruning and maintenance of protected trees shall be consistent with best management practices in the field of arboriculture and further the long-term health of the tree.

(d) Excessive pruning shall not be allowed unless necessary to protect life and property.

(Ord. No. 09-610, § 4(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

19.120.240 Performance assurance.

The city may require the following bonds for any clearing and/or grading activity approved by or under this article:

(1) A performance bond to guarantee that the clearing and/or grading will conform to city standards and requirements.

(2) To mitigate damages should they occur as a result of unauthorized tree removal, the applicant shall submit a bond, letter of credit or other means of assurance acceptable to the director. The following provisions shall apply to such performance assurance:

(a) Tree protection assurance. The applicant shall post a performance bond or other acceptable security device to ensure the installation, maintenance, and adequate performance of tree protection measures. The amount of this bond shall be no less than 120 percent of the city’s estimated cost of replacing each protected tree. The estimated cost per tree shall be the tree base fee established by the city council. Prior to issuance of the certificate of occupancy, any protected tree found to be irreparably damaged, severely stressed, or dying shall be replaced according to the standards identified under FWRC 19.120.270, Compliance and enforcement. The bonding period shall be two years. The director may release all or part of the bond prior to the conclusion of the bonding period if the applicant demonstrates that the requirements of this section have been satisfied and there is evidence that the protected trees will survive.

(b) Tree maintenance assurance. Where replacement trees are required pursuant to this section, the applicant shall post a replacement tree maintenance bond or other acceptable security device to ensure the survival of replacement trees. The amount of the maintenance bond shall equal 50 percent of the cost of plant material, periodic fertilizing and pruning, and labor for the time period of the maintenance bond. Where possible, the bond may be combined with the landscape maintenance bond required by Chapter 19.125 FWRC, Article I, Landscaping. In the event a required replacement tree becomes irreparably damaged, severely stressed, or dies, during the maintenance period, the tree shall be replaced according to the standards in FWRC 19.120.130, Tree and vegetation retention standards and FWRC 19.120.150, Replacement tree species and size. Replacement trees damaged due to natural disasters such as wind storms, hail, ice or snow storms, earthquakes, and the like shall be exempt from replacement. The bonding period shall be two years. The director may release all or part of the bond prior to the conclusion of the bonding period if the applicant demonstrates that the requirements of this section have been satisfied and there is evidence that the replacement trees will survive.

(c) Supplemental administrative costs. In addition to the bond and any consultation fees under subsection (2)(e) of this section, the applicant shall post a cash deposit with the city equal to the following percentages of the amount of the bond:

Amount of Bond

Amount of Cash Deposit

Up to $20,000

5% of the bond (minimum $100.00)

$20,001 to $50,000

4% of the bond

$50,001 to $100,000

3% of the bond

$100,001 and up

2-1/2% of the bond

This cash deposit will be used to cover the city’s actual expenses of administering and, if necessary, obtaining and using the proceeds of the bond.

(d) The required tree protection assurance shall be submitted prior to issuance of a permit authorizing tree removal. The required tree maintenance assurance shall be submitted prior to issuance of final plat approval pursuant to FWRC 18.40.050, or certificate of occupancy, whichever is applicable.

(e) The director may consult with a certified arborist, licensed landscape architect, or other similarly qualified professional in determining the amount of a bond under this article. The applicant shall pay the actual costs of this consultation.

(f) The performance assurances shall not be fully released without final inspection and approval of completed work by the city, submittal of any post-construction evaluations, or following any prescribed trial maintenance period required in the permit.

(g) With the consent of the city, assurance devices under this section may be assigned by the applicant to individual property owners when those parties obtain an ownership interest in the subject property. The director may release all or part of an applicant’s assurance when the applicant demonstrates that the applicant has secured to the city sufficient assurances to meet the requirements of this section from other parties.

(h) Performance assurances provided in accordance with this section may be redeemed in whole or in part by the city of Federal Way upon determination by the director that the applicant has failed to fully comply with approved plans and/or conditions.

(Ord. No. 09-610, § 4(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

19.120.250 Project inspections – City access.

(1) All projects with a clearing and grading and/or tree retention plan approval and associated permit are subject to city inspections to ensure compliance with the conditions of approval and associated permit. As a condition of permit issuance, the applicant must grant right-of-entry for such inspections and city emergency corrective measures.

(2) The public works director or his/her designee will specify the general stages of work when city inspection is required and may require inspection and testing by an approved testing agency, to be paid by the applicant.

(3) The director shall specify inspection and testing requirements applicable to a given project prior to permit issuance; however, the public works director may require additional inspection, testing, or professional analysis and recommendations when conditions exist that were not covered in the permit application documents or were not sufficiently known at the time of permit issuance.

(Ord. No. 09-610, § 4(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

19.120.260 Stop work orders and corrective actions.

(1) The director or his/her designee may notify the permittee, or person doing the work, to stop work and take any necessary corrective actions whenever the director determines that:

(a) During the life of the permit, the project is causing problems related to earth and water resources, such as sediment leaving the site or entering the drainage system;

(b) The act or intended act of clearing, grading, or tree or vegetation removal has become or will constitute a hazard to life and limb, or endangers property; or it adversely affects the safety, use, or stability of a public way, drainage channel, street, or surface water;

(c) Clearing, grading or tree or vegetation removal is occurring without a required permit; or

(d) The activity is otherwise violating this article or the conditions of approval issued under this article.

(2) The director or his/her designee shall remove the stop work order when the city has reached an agreement with the violator regarding rectification of the violation. Any stop work order issued under this article may be appealed using the procedures set forth in FWRC 1.15.060.

(Ord. No. 09-610, § 4(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)

19.120.270 Compliance and enforcement.

(1) In addition to any other penalties or other enforcement actions, any person who fails to comply with the provisions of this article or the terms of an approved tree retention plan, or a related cease and desist or stop work order, shall also be subject to a civil penalty as set forth in Table 19.120.270-1. Each unlawfully removed or damaged tree shall constitute a separate violation.

(a) The amount of the penalty shall be assessed in accordance with Table 19.120.270-1. The director may elect not to seek penalties if he or she determines that the circumstances do not warrant imposition of civil penalties in addition to restoration. (For example, first time violators who unintentionally or unknowingly violated the requirements of this article and are cooperating with regard to restoration may not warrant imposition of civil penalties.)

Table 19.120.270-1 – Penalties 

Types of Violations

Allowable Fines per Violation

1. Removal of tree(s) approved to be removed, but prior to final tree retention plan approval

$100.00 per tree.

2. Removal or damage of tree(s) that are or would be shown to be retained on an approved tree plan or any other violation of approved tree retention plan

$1,000 per tree, or up to the marketable value of each tree removed or damaged as determined by a certified arborist or timber cruiser.

3. Removal of tree(s) without applying for or obtaining required city approval

$1,000 per tree, or up to the marketable value of each tree removed or damaged as determined by a certified arborist or timber cruiser.

(2) Violators shall be responsible for restoring unlawfully damaged areas in conformance with a plan, approved by the director, which provides for repair of any environmental and property damage, and restoration of the site; and which results in a site condition that, to the greatest extent practical, equals the site condition that would have existed in the absence of the violation(s).

(3) The number of trees required to be planted shall be equal to the number of tree unit credits of illegally removed trees according to Table 19.120.130-2.

(4) The minimum size for a tree planted for restoration is 12-foot-tall evergreen and three-inch caliper deciduous tree. The city may approve smaller restoration tree sizes at a higher restoration ratio, provided the site has capacity for the additional trees and the results of restoration at a higher restoration ratio is as good or better than at the normal ratio. The smallest allowable alternatives to the normal restoration requirements shall be two eight-foot evergreen for one 12-foot evergreen or two two-inch caliper deciduous for one three-inch caliper deciduous tree.

(5) Remedial measures must be completed within the time frame specified by the director.

(6) The cost of any remedial measures necessary to correct violation(s) of this article shall be borne by the property owner and/or applicant. Upon the applicant’s failure to implement required remedial measures, the director may redeem all or any portion of any security submitted by the applicant to implement such remedial measures, pursuant to the provisions of FWRC 19.120.240, Performance assurance.

(Ord. No. 09-610, § 4(Exh. A), 4-7-09.)