Chapter 17.04LEGAL LOTS

Sections:

17.04.010
Purpose and Intent.
17.04.020
Definition.
17.04.030
Certificate of Land Division Compliance.
17.04.040
Application.
17.04.050
Review and Processing Procedures.
17.04.060
Notice of Violation.
17.04.070
Non-buildable Lots.
17.04.010Purpose and Intent.

The purpose of this chapter is to advance the purposes and intent of RCW 58.17; namely, to “regulate the subdivision of land and to promote the public health, safety and general welfare in accordance with standards established by the state to prevent the overcrowding of land; to lessen congestion in the streets and highways; to promote effective use of land; to promote safe and convenient travel by the public on streets and highways; to provide for adequate light and air; to facilitate adequate provision for water, sewerage, parks and recreation areas, sites for schools and schoolgrounds and other public requirements; to provide for proper ingress and egress; to provide for the expeditious review and approval of proposed subdivisions which conform to zoning standards and local plans and policies; to adequately provide for the housing and commercial needs of the citizens of the state; and to require uniform monumenting of land subdivisions and conveyancing by accurate legal description.

This chapter seeks to ensure that the subdivision and development of land is accomplished in a thoughtful and orderly manner. This section seeks to balance the ability to develop private property with the public interest in ensuring that any such development does not adversely affect the community, the environment, or surrounding land uses. (Ord. 591 § 10, 2015.)

17.04.020Definition.

A legal lot is a lot with specific fixed boundaries which was created consistent with applicable state law and which remains consistent with applicable state law. LMC 18A.50.115(A) sets forth requirements to establish a legal lot of record. To establish that a lot has been legally created, an applicant shall provide one (1) of the following:

A. A copy of a recorded formal plat, short plat, binding site plan, or subdivision approved by Pierce County or the City of Lakewood pursuant to RCW 58.17 or RCW 58.16 separately describing the lot.

B. A copy of the recorded boundary line adjustment or lot combination approved by Pierce County or the City of Lakewood separately describing the lot. This does not include actions taken by the County Assessor’s Office for tax purposes only.

C. Documentation that the creation of the lot was exempt from the provisions of the Pierce County or City of Lakewood Subdivision Regulations.

D. A deed, contract of sale, mortgage, recorded survey, or tax segregation executed prior to August 13, 1974 that separately describes the lot. (Ord. 591 § 11, 2015.)

17.04.030Certificate of Land Division Compliance.

In the event that an asserted lot was not created pursuant to a formal plat action, or where there is a question of a lot’s legality, a property owner may apply for a Certificate of Land Division Compliance.

Although a certificate of compliance certifies the legality of the parcel, it neither ensures that it is a buildable parcel, nor entitles the parcel owner to a construction permit or other development permits or approvals. To obtain a construction permit or other land use approval for the parcel, the owner must complete the appropriate application process and meet all existing regulations.

If the City determines that the parcel was created in compliance with the provisions of RCW 58.17 and local ordinances at the time of its creation, a certificate of compliance may be issued. If the parcel was not created in compliance with those provisions, a conditional certificate of compliance or a notice of violation may be issued. A Notice of Violation is a recorded document notifying the owner and subsequent owners that the parcel was created in violation of RCW 58.17 and local ordinances. A landowner, upon receipt of the city’s intent to file a notice of violation may apply for a conditional certificate of compliance. The conditions which must be satisfied before a property is declared to be a legal lot, or before issuance of any permit or other approval, will typically be the same as those that would have been applied if the parcel had been legally created using the land division process. The city will not record the notice of violation if a conditional certificate is issued. (Ord. 591 § 12, 2015.)

17.04.040Application.

Application for a certificate of compliance shall be made to the community development department on forms provided by the department, accompanied by the required filing fee. An application for a certificate of compliance shall be accompanied by the following:

A. One copy of grant deeds or other conveyance documents establishing the ownership of the property on the date of its creation;

B. One copy of the grant deed (s) or other conveyance documents showing the current owner of the parcel;

C. The assessor’s parcel number for the property;

D. Legal description of the parcels;

E. Current preliminary title report(s) for the subject property, not more than six months old, issued by a title company;

F. One copy of any plat map(s) which depict the property involved in the request. (Ord. 591 § 13, 2015.)

17.04.050Review and Processing Procedures.

The community development director shall review the application and shall issue a certificate of compliance, conditional certificate of compliance, or notice of violation. The determination shall be based on the following criteria:

A. A certificate of compliance shall be issued for a parcel created prior to August 13, 1974, which resulted from a division of land in which fewer than five parcels were created; or,

B. A certificate of compliance shall be issued for any lot created as part of a recorded formal plat, short plat, binding site plan, or subdivision approved by Pierce County or the City of Lakewood pursuant to RCW 58.17 or RCW 58.16; or,

C. A certificate of compliance shall be issued for any lot created as the result of a recorded boundary line adjustment or lot combination approved by Pierce County or the City of Lakewood; or

D. A certificate of compliance may be issued where documentation is provided showing that the creation of the lot was exempt from the provisions of the Pierce County or City of Lakewood Subdivision Regulations.

E. A conditional certificate of compliance shall be issued for any parcel which does not, or at the time of creation did not, comply with the provisions of state law and local ordinances regulating the division of land. A conditional certificate of compliance may include conditions as follows:

1. If the current owner was not the owner at the time of the initial land division, the conditional certificate of compliance shall impose conditions which would have been applicable to a division of land on the date the current owner acquired the property; or

2. If the current owner was the owner at the time of the initial land division, the conditional certificate of compliance shall impose conditions which would be applicable to a current division of land. (Ord. 591 § 14, 2015.)

17.04.060Notice of Violation.

A. If the community development director has knowledge that real property has been divided in violation of the provisions of this title or RCW 58.17, a notice of intention to record a notice of violation shall be mailed by certified mail with return receipt to the current owner of record of the property. The notice shall describe the property in detail, name the owner(s), describe the violation with an explanation as to why the property is not lawful, and state that the owner will be given an opportunity to present evidence to the contrary. The notice shall specify the date, time, and place for a meeting at which the owner may present evidence to the community development director why a notice of violation should not be recorded. The meeting shall take place no sooner than 30 days and no later than sixty days from the date of mailing. The owner shall have fifteen days to indicate whether or not he or she has any objections to the notice and would like to avail him or herself of the opportunity to meet with the community development director.

B. An owner may apply for a conditional certificate of compliance per Section 17.04.030 of this title. If, however, after the owner has presented evidence, the community development director determines that the property has in fact been illegally divided, the city clerk shall record the notice of violation with the county recorder. If, within fifteen days of receipt of the notice, the owner of the real property fails to inform the city of his or her objection to the notice of violation, the city clerk shall record the notice of violation with the county auditor. The notice of violation, when recorded, shall be deemed to be constructive notice of the violation to all successors in interest in the subject property. Pursuant to LMC 18A.50.115 and RCW 58.17.210, development shall be permitted only on a legally created lot.

C. If, after the owner has presented evidence, it is determined that there has been no violation, the City shall issue a certificate of compliance or a conditional certificate of compliance, and shall mail a clearance letter by certified mail with return receipt to the then current owner and shall record the clearance statement or certificate of compliance with the County Auditor.

D. A determination that a violation has been sustained is appealable to the City’s Hearing Examiner in accordance with the provisions of chapter 1.36 LMC.

E. In the event that a Notice of Violation is sustained, the following courses of action are possible:

1. A preliminary plat or short plat application may be filed. If approved, legal lots would be created upon recordation of the final plat or final short plat.

2. A conditional certificate of compliance could be issued noting appropriate requirements to be fulfilled pursuant to LMC 17.04.050(E). Upon fulfilment of the conditions, a clearance statement and/or certificate of compliance shall be issued by the City and recorded with the County Assessor. The property shall thereafter be considered a legal lot of record. If a conditional certificate of compliance is issued, the Community Development Director shall, at a minimum, provide a scaled graphic depiction and accurate legal description to utility companies, service providers, and other agencies with jurisdiction over, or interest in, the subject property.

3. If the property does not conform to City zoning requirements or is otherwise found to be a public nuisance or code violation which cannot be appropriately mitigated, the Notice of Violation shall be sustained and the City shall pursue appropriate legal action to remedy the violation and eliminate the separate lot. (Ord. 591 § 15, 2015.)

17.04.070Non-buildable Lots.

There may be situations where a legal lot of record may be deemed unbuildable because of size, dimension, topography, lack of access, environmental constraint or other factors. When anticipated, information regarding limitations and constraints may be required to be noted on the certificate of compliance, or the city may issue some other appropriate form of notice. (Ord. 591 § 16, 2015.)