Chapter 21.26


21.26.100    Scope.

21.26.150    Purpose.

21.26.200    Who may apply.

21.26.250    Applicable procedure.

21.26.300    Submittal requirements.

21.26.350    Decision criteria.

21.26.400    Limitation on authority.

21.26.450    Time limitation.

21.26.500    Extension.

21.26.550    Repealed.

21.26.600    Assurance device.

21.26.100 Scope.

This chapter establishes the procedures and criteria that the city will use in making a decision upon an application for a variance from the provisions of the zoning code. (Ord. 2441 § 9, 2003; Ord. 2020 § 13, 1994)

21.26.150 Purpose.

A variance is a mechanism by which the city may grant relief from the provisions of the zoning code where practical difficulty renders compliance with the provisions of the code an unnecessary hardship, where the hardship is a result of the physical characteristics of the subject property and where the purpose of the code and of the comprehensive plan can be fulfilled upon granting of the variance. (Ord. 2441 § 9, 2003; Ord. 2020 § 13, 1994)

21.26.200 Who may apply.

Only the property owner may apply for a variance from the provisions of the zoning code. (Ord. 2441 § 9, 2003; Ord. 2020 § 13, 1994)

21.26.250 Applicable procedure.

The city will process an application for a variance from the provisions of the zoning code through Process I, LMC 1.35.100 et seq. The development and business services director is the applicable department director. (Ord. 3399 § 2 (Exh. A), 2021; Ord. 2441 § 9, 2003; Ord. 2020 § 13, 1994)

21.26.300 Submittal requirements.

Application for a variance shall be made on forms prescribed by the city, and shall be accompanied by the following information; provided, that the development and business services director may waive any of these items, pursuant to LMC 1.35.015(A), upon request by the applicant and a finding that the item is not necessary to analyze the application:

A. A site plan of the property, drawn to scale, showing existing natural features, existing and proposed grades, existing and proposed utility improvements, existing and proposed rights-of-way and improvements, and existing and proposed structures and other improvements, and particularly identifying the location of parking for the proposed use; this site plan shall also show structures, other improvements and natural features that are located within 50 feet of the project site; this information may be shown on several sheets if needed for readability;

B. A landscape plan, showing existing and proposed landscaping and fencing;

C. A vicinity map, showing the location of the site in relation to nearby streets and properties;

D. A written summary of the proposal, including the goals of the proposal, the section(s) of this municipal code which require approval of the application, and the relationship of the arrangement of buildings and other structures, parking, and landscaping to those goals and to development and use of adjoining properties;

E. A summary table of project statistics, including site area, building coverage, coverage by impervious surface, required and proposed parking, and similar data, as required, to evaluate conformance of the proposed project with city regulations;

F. A list of uses for which the site will be used and the gross floor area or gross lot area that each use would occupy;

G. A written description of the proposed use of the site, including hours of operation, number of employees, and any proposed storage or use of hazardous materials;

H. A written statement addressing the decision criteria;

I. A legal description of the property, including parcel number;

J. A statement to the effect that the applicant or applicants are the sole owners of the property;

K. Photographs of the site;

L. A completed SEPA checklist (for environmental review), unless the project is categorically exempt from SEPA review;

M. A list of other permits that are or may be required for development of the property (issued by the city or by other government agencies), insofar as they are known to the applicant;

N. A list of other city permits that are to be processed concurrently with this permit, pursuant to LMC 1.35.080;

O. Payment of related fees and costs as set forth in Chapter 3.104 LMC;

P. Exterior elevations of all existing and proposed structures;

Q. If the project is to be developed or occupied in phases, a schedule for each phase;

R. A colors and materials board showing all proposed colors and materials. (Ord. 3399 § 2 (Exh. A), 2021; Ord. 2656 §§ 1, 2, 2006; Ord. 2441 § 9, 2003; Ord. 2242 § 10, 1999; Ord. 2075 § 4, 1996; Ord. 2020 § 13, 1994)

21.26.350 Decision criteria.

The hearing examiner may approve or approve with modifications an application for a variance from the provisions of the zoning code if:

A. The variance for the subject property will not constitute a grant of special privilege inconsistent with the limitation upon uses of other properties in the vicinity and the zone in which the property is located; and

B. The variance is necessary because of special circumstances relating to the size, shape, topography, location or surroundings of the subject property, to provide it with use rights and privileges permitted to other properties in the vicinity and in the land use zone in which the subject property is located; and

C. The granting of the variance will not be materially detrimental to the public welfare or injurious to the property or improvements in the vicinity and zone in which the subject property is located; and

D. The special circumstances of the subject property make the strict enforcement of the provisions of this code an unnecessary hardship to the property owner; and

E. The special circumstances of the subject property are not the result of the actions of the applicant or a predecessor in interest; and

F. The variance is the minimum necessary to fulfill the purpose of a variance and the need of the applicant; and

G. The variance is consistent with the purpose and intent of the zoning code; and

H. The variance is in accord with the comprehensive plan. (Ord. 2441 § 9, 2003; Ord. 2020 § 13, 1994)

21.26.400 Limitation on authority.

The hearing examiner may not grant a variance to:

A. The provisions of regulations establishing the allowable uses in each land use zone; or

B. Any procedural or administrative provisions of the Lynnwood Municipal Code; or

C. Any provision of the zoning code which, by the terms of that code, is not subject to a variance. (Ord. 2441 § 9, 2003; Ord. 2020 § 13, 1994)

21.26.450 Time limitation.

A variance automatically expires and is void if the applicant fails to obtain a building permit or other necessary development permit and substantially complete improvements allowed by the variance within two years of the effective date of the variance. (Ord. 2824 § 7, 2010; Ord. 2020 § 13, 1994)

21.26.500 Extension.

Upon application of the applicant or agent of record, the development and business services director may extend a variance, not to exceed two years, if:

A. Unforeseen circumstances or conditions necessitate the extension of the variance; and

B. Termination of the variance would result in unreasonable hardship to the applicant, and the applicant is not responsible for the delay; and

C. The extension of the variance will not cause substantial detriment to existing uses in the immediate vicinity of the subject property.

D. Exception. Effective until June 1, 2010, the applicant or agent of record for any unexpired variance approval granted on or before the effective date of the ordinance codified in this section, or expired variance valid as of January 1, 2009, may submit a written application in the form of a letter with supporting documentation to the development and business services department requesting an additional one-time, one-year time extension. The extension for a currently unexpired variance shall be one year from the expiration date, for a total of two one-year extensions. The extension for an expired variance approval shall be valid for one year from the date of the retroactive extension approval. The hearing examiner shall make a decision using the criteria set forth for extensions in this section. (Ord. 3399 § 2 (Exh. A), 2021; Ord. 2824 § 8, 2010; Ord. 2441 § 9, 2003; Ord. 2020 § 13, 1994)

21.26.550 Second extension.

Repealed by Ord. 2824. (Ord. 2441 § 9, 2003; Ord. 2020 § 13, 1994)

21.26.600 Assurance device.

In appropriate circumstances the hearing examiner may require reasonable performance or maintenance assurance devices to assure compliance with the provisions of the zoning code and the variance as approved. (Ord. 2441 § 9, 2003; Ord. 2020 § 13, 1994)