Chapter 15.20


15.20.010    Variance procedure.

15.20.020    Hearing examiner.

15.20.030    Prerequisite conditions for variances.

15.20.010 Variance procedure.

Procedures for requesting and processing variance applications shall be as set forth in Chapter 21.04 of this code.

(Ord. 310 (2003) § 38, 2003: Ord. 80 (1980) § 4.4 (part), 1980)

15.20.020 Hearing examiner.

In considering a variance application, the hearing examiner shall consider all technical evaluations and standards specified in this title, and the following criteria:

(A)    The danger that materials may be swept onto other lands to the injury of others;

(B)    The danger to life and property due to flooding or erosion damage;

(C)    The susceptibility of the proposed facility and its contents to flood damage and the effect of such damage on the individual owner;

(D)    The importance of the services provided by the proposed facility to the community;

(E)    The necessity to the facility of a waterfront location, where applicable;

(F)    The availability of alternative locations for the proposed use that are not subject to flooding or erosion damage;

(G)    The compatibility of the proposed use with existing and anticipated development;

(H)    The relationship of the proposed use to the comprehensive plan and floodplain management program for the area;

(I)    The safety of access to the property in times of flood for ordinary and emergency vehicles;

(J)    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

(K)    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. 310 (2003) § 39, 2003: Ord. 80 (1980) § 4.4-1, 1980)

15.20.030 Prerequisite conditions for variances.

(1)    Generally, a variance from the elevation standard may be issued only for new construction and substantial improvements to be erected on a lot of one-half acre or less in size contiguous to and surrounded by lots with existing structures constructed below the base flood level, providing all variance criteria have been fully considered. As the lot size increases the technical justification required for issuing a variance increases.

(2)    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 the remainder of this section.

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

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

(5)    Variances 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; and

(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, victimize the public as identified in Section 15.20.020 or conflict with existing county laws or ordinances.

(6)    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, or economic or financial circumstances. They primarily address small lots in densely populated residential neighborhoods. As such, variances from the flood elevations should be quite rare.

(7)    Variances may be issued for non-residential 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 other variance criteria except subsection (1) of this section, and otherwise complies with Sections 15.12.030, 15.12.040, and 15.12.050 of this code.

(8)    Any applicant to whom a variance is granted shall be given written notice that the structure will be permitted to be built with a lowest floor elevation below the base flood elevation, and that the cost of flood insurance will be commensurate with the increased risk resulting from the reduced lowest floor elevation.

(Ord. 310 (2003) § 40, 2003: Ord. 80 (1980) § 4.4-2, 1980)