Chapter 14.11
DECISIONS AND APPEALS

Sections:

14.11.010    Purpose.

14.11.020    Hearings Examiner actions.

14.11.030    Planning Commission actions.

14.11.040    City Council actions.

14.11.050    Required findings.

14.11.060    Reconsideration.

14.11.070    Administrative appeals.

14.11.080    Judicial appeals.

14.11.090    Consolidated appeals.

14.11.100    Computation of time.

14.11.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to describe the actions taken by the various City hearing bodies, the findings that must be made in order to support decisions of the hearing body, and the various procedures for reconsideration or appeal of hearing body decisions. (Ord. 1768 § 2 (Exh. B), 2013; Ord. 1396 § 2, 2006)

14.11.020 Hearings Examiner actions.

A.    For those issues where the Hearings Examiner conducts public hearings and offers recommendations to the City Council for final action, including preliminary plats, plat variances, and planned unit developments, the following actions shall be undertaken pursuant to Chapter 14.17 FMC, Procedural Rules for the City of Ferndale Hearings Examiner:

1.    Staff Report. The Community Development Director shall be responsible for the preparation of a staff report outlining the proposed development, summarizing the comments of City departments, comments of agencies and special districts, and evaluating the proposal’s consistency with the City’s adopted plans and development regulations. The staff report shall include analysis, recommendations, and proposed conditions of approval.

2.    Hearing. The Hearings Examiner shall conduct an open record public hearing, for the purpose of taking testimony, hearing evidence, considering the facts, and evaluating the proposal for consistency with the City’s adopted plans and development regulations.

3.    Recommendation. Following the public hearing, the Hearings Examiner shall prepare findings and conclusions of law, and recommendations, and forward such to the City Council for consideration and final action.

B.    For those issues where the Hearings Examiner conducts public hearings and renders final decisions, including conditional use permits, variances, preliminary plats, plat variances and major home occupation permits, the following actions shall be undertaken:

1.    Staff Report. The Community Development Director or Public Works Director shall be responsible for the preparation of a staff report outlining the proposed development, summarizing the comments of City departments, comments of agencies and special districts, and evaluating the proposal’s consistency with the City’s adopted plans and development regulations. The staff report shall include analysis, recommendations, and proposed conditions of approval.

2.    Hearing. The Hearings Examiner shall conduct an open record public hearing, or if applicable, a closed record appeal hearing, for the purpose of taking testimony, hearing evidence, considering the facts, and evaluating the proposal for consistency with the City’s adopted plans and development regulations.

3.    Decision. Following the public hearing, the Hearings Examiner shall prepare a written decision within 10 working days supported by findings of fact and conclusions of law, and forward such decision to the Community Development Director for preparation of a notice of decision. (Ord. 2018 § 1 (Exh. 1), 2017; Ord. 1768 § 2 (Exh. B), 2013; Ord. 1396 § 2, 2006)

14.11.030 Planning Commission actions.

For those issues where the Planning Commission conducts public hearings and offers recommendations to the City Council for final action, including Comprehensive Plan amendments, rezone requests, annexation requests, and zoning text amendments, the following actions shall be undertaken:

A.    Staff Report. The Community Development Director shall be responsible for the preparation of a staff report outlining the proposed action, summarizing the comments of City departments, comments of agencies and special districts, and evaluating the proposal’s consistency with the City’s adopted plans and development regulations. The staff report shall include analysis and proposed conditions of approval, if applicable.

B.    Hearing. The Planning Commission shall conduct an open record public hearing for the purpose of taking testimony, hearing evidence, considering the facts, and evaluating the proposal for consistency with the City’s Development Code, adopted plans and regulations. The Commission may conduct any number of public meetings concerning a particular legislative matter prior to conducting a public hearing.

C.    Recommendation. Following the public hearing, the Planning Commission shall set forth its findings, conclusions, and recommendations and forward such to the City Council for consideration and final action. (Ord. 2018 § 1 (Exh. 1), 2017; Ord. 1768 § 2 (Exh. B), 2013; Ord. 1396 § 2, 2006)

14.11.040 City Council actions.

Upon receiving a recommendation from the Planning Commission or the Hearings Examiner, the City Council shall perform the following actions as appropriate:

A.    For quasi-judicial matters, hold a closed record public meeting and take final action.

B.    For legislative matters, hold an open record public hearing or a closed record public meeting, as appropriate, and take final action.

C.    The City Council shall make its decision by motion, resolution, or ordinance as appropriate.

D.    The City Council shall take one of the following actions: approve the action, deny the action, approve with modification, or remand the issues back to the hearing body for further review. In the event of a remand, the City Council shall specify the items or issues to be given additional consideration and the time frame for completing the additional work. (Ord. 2018 § 1 (Exh. 1), 2017; Ord. 1768 § 2 (Exh. B), 2013; Ord. 1396 § 2, 2006)

14.11.050 Required findings.

No development application shall be approved unless the decision to approve the application is supported by the following findings and conclusions:

A.    The development is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and meets the requirements and intent of the Ferndale Municipal Code.

B.    The development adequately mitigates environmental impacts identified through SEPA review under the provisions of FMC Title 16.

C.    The development is beneficial to the public health, safety and welfare and is in the public interest.

D.    The development does not lower the level of service of transportation and/or neighborhood park facilities below the minimum standards established within the City’s adopted traffic mitigation ordinance, parks mitigation ordinance and Comprehensive Plan. If the development results in a level of service lower than those set forth in the traffic mitigation ordinance, parks mitigation ordinance or Comprehensive Plan, the development may be approved if improvements or strategies to raise the level of service above the minimum standard are made concurrent with the development. For the purpose of this section, “concurrent with the development” is defined as the required improvements or strategies in place at the time of occupancy, or a financial commitment is in place to complete the improvements or strategies within six years of approval of the development.

E.    The area, location and features of any land proposed for dedication are sufficient and appropriate to mitigate any identified impacts resulting from the development proposal, and are proportional to the impacts created by the development. (Ord. 1768 § 2 (Exh. B), 2013; Ord. 1396 § 2, 2006)

14.11.060 Reconsideration.

A party of record believing that a decision or recommendation of the Hearings Examiner or City Council is based on erroneous procedures, errors of law or fact, or the discovery of new evidence which could be reasonably available at the prior hearing may make a written request for reconsideration by the Examiner or City Council within seven calendar days of the date of the notice of decision, together with a reconsideration fee as established by ordinance. This request shall set forth the specific errors or new information relied upon by the appellant, and the Examiner or City Council may, after review of the record, take further action as deemed proper. If a request for reconsideration is accepted, a decision is not final until after a decision on the reconsideration is issued. Decisions regarding requests for reconsideration shall be rendered within 10 working days from receipt of the request by the Examiner, or within 30 working days of receipt of the request by the City Council. (Ord. 1768 § 2 (Exh. B), 2013; Ord. 1396 § 2, 2006)

14.11.070 Administrative appeals.

A.    Any party of record that feels aggrieved by an administrative decision of the City may submit an appeal. The term “party of record,” for the purposes of this chapter, shall mean:

1.    The applicant;

2.    Any person that testified at an open record hearing on the application or matter;

3.    Any person who submitted written comments concerning the application at or prior to an open record public hearing (excluding persons who have only signed petitions or mechanically produced form letters); and

4.    Any person aggrieved by an administrative interpretation or administrative permit decision issued under the provisions of FMC 14.09.050.

B.    Every appeal to the Hearings Examiner of an administrative interpretation or administrative permit decision shall be filed in writing with the Community Development Director within 10 calendar days from the date of the interpretation or decision regarding the matter being appealed. If an appellant prevails in an appeal of an administrative decision, the appellant’s appeal fees shall be refunded.

C.    The notice of appeal shall contain a concise statement identifying:

1.    The decision being appealed.

2.    The name and address of the appellant and his interest(s) in the matter.

3.    The specific reasons why the appellant believes the decision to be wrong. The appellant shall bear the burden of proving the decision was wrong.

4.    The desired outcome or changes to the decision.

5.    Appeal fees pursuant to the current Ferndale Unified Fee Schedule. (Ord. 2018 § 1 (Exh. 1), 2017; Ord. 1768 § 2 (Exh. B), 2013; Ord. 1740 §§ 1, 2, 2012; Ord. 1396 § 2, 2006)

14.11.080 Judicial appeals.

A.    Appeals from the final decision of the Hearings Examiner or City Council, or other City decision-making entities involving FMC Titles 14 through 18 or other development-related portions of this code, and for which all other appeals specifically authorized have been timely exhausted, shall be made to Whatcom County Superior Court within 21 days of the date the notice of decision or action became final, unless another time period is established by state law or local ordinance.

B.    Notice of the appeal and any other pleadings required to be filed with the court shall be served on the City Clerk, Community Development Director and City Attorney within the applicable time period. This requirement is jurisdictional.

C.    The cost of transcribing and preparing all records ordered certified by the court or desired by the appellant for such appeal shall be borne by the appellant. The appellant shall post with the City Clerk prior to the preparation of any records an advance fee deposit equal to the full estimated cost of such preparation. Any overage will be promptly refunded to the appellant. (Ord. 2018 § 1 (Exh. 1), 2017; Ord. 1768 § 2 (Exh. B), 2013; Ord. 1396 § 2, 2006)

14.11.090 Consolidated appeals.

A.    All appeals of project permit application decisions, other than an appeal of an environmental threshold determination, shall be considered together in a consolidated appeal.

B.    Appeals of environmental threshold determinations shall be decided by the Hearings Examiner in accordance with FMC 14.09.040. (Ord. 1768 § 2 (Exh. B), 2013; Ord. 1396 § 2, 2006)

14.11.100 Computation of time.

In computing any period of time prescribed in this chapter, the day of the act or event from which the designated period of time begins to run shall be included. The last day of the period so computed shall be included, terminating at 5:00 p.m. If the last day falls on a weekend or a City holiday, the last day shall be the following business day. (Ord. 1768 § 2 (Exh. B), 2013; Ord. 1396 § 2, 2006)