Chapter 4.34


4.34.010    Purpose.

4.34.020    Creation of hearing examiner office.

4.34.030    Scope of authority – Jurisdiction.

4.34.040    Powers.

4.34.050    Assignment of matters to examiner – Coordination – Departmental reports.

4.34.060    Conduct of hearings – Decisions.

4.34.070    Appointment, compensation, term and removal of examiner.

4.34.080    Qualifications of examiner.

4.34.090    Freedom from improper influence – Legal services.

4.34.100    Conflict of interest.

4.34.110    Examiner’s reports.

4.34.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to establish a quasi-judicial hearing examiner system in accordance with RCW 35A.63.170 for hearing and deciding quasi-judicial land use and other matters as allowed or authorized by law. It is the intent of the city council to provide procedural due process for all regulatory and other matters subject to this chapter, and to separate the city’s land use, building code, and other regulatory functions from its land use planning functions. Nothing in this chapter shall intrude upon or prevent the city council from exercising its legislative authority, nor prevent the city council from exercising quasi-judicial authority as it may determine to be in the public interest or as otherwise authorized by law. (Ord. 2018-830 § 3; Ord. 2010-718 § 1 (Exh. A))

4.34.020 Creation of hearing examiner office.

The office of the Mill Creek hearing examiner is hereby created. The term “examiner” or “hearing examiner” shall include deputy examiners, on-call examiners, and examiners pro tem as may be appointed from time to time. (Ord. 2010-718 § 1 (Exh. A))

4.34.030 Scope of authority – Jurisdiction.

The examiner shall serve as the city’s quasi-judicial hearings officer and shall have jurisdiction over the matters set forth in this chapter, MCMC 14.03.080 and as designated by ordinance. In the exercise of such jurisdiction, the examiner shall interpret, review and implement the city’s land use regulations and pertinent provisions of the MCMC, hold hearings and hear appeals, issue decisions, and take such actions as assigned by the municipal code or the city council. (Ord. 2018-830 § 3; Ord. 2010-718 § 1 (Exh. A))

4.34.040 Powers.

By way of example and not by limitation, in carrying out his duties, the examiner shall have the following powers as to all matters for which jurisdiction is assigned to the examiner:

A. To receive and examine available information.

B. To arrange for, conduct and regulate the schedule, course and content of hearings, including prehearing matters, post-hearing matters, dispositive or other motions, supplementary proceedings, settlement conferences, and such procedural matters as are pertinent to the foregoing.

C. To cause preparation of necessary and appropriate records of hearings.

D. To administer oaths and affirmations.

E. To examine and allow examination of witnesses, including cross-examination; provided, that no person shall be compelled to divulge information which he or she could not be compelled to divulge in a court of law.

F. To decide the matters within his jurisdiction, and to make and enter recommendations, decisions and orders as appropriate.

G. To take such other actions as are authorized by or necessary to carry out this chapter.

H. To prescribe rules concerning the scheduling and conduct of hearings, decisions, and all other procedural matters related to the duties of the office; provided, that such rules shall be consistent with the requirements of the municipal code. (Ord. 2018-830 § 3; Ord. 2010-718 § 1 (Exh. A))

4.34.050 Assignment of matters to examiner – Coordination – Departmental reports.

A. Matters falling within the examiner’s jurisdiction shall be assigned to the examiner’s office as provided in the municipal code.

B. The director designated to handle the matter on the city’s behalf (“designated director”) shall be responsible for coordinating with the examiner any scheduling, hearings, and other procedural matters. The designated director shall coordinate with and obtain as appropriate input from other city departments, governmental agencies, or persons having an interest in the matter, and shall prepare and present such information as needed.

C. The designated director shall prepare a thorough report summarizing and evaluating the factors, evidence, information, legal requirements and other matters pertinent to the issues, including if appropriate the department’s findings, conclusions, recommendations and/or decisions (“staff report”). The staff report shall be filed with the examiner and copies thereof shall be transmitted to the applicant, proponent or appellant and made available for public inspection on the schedule determined by the examiner, or if no schedule has been determined, at least 10 calendar days prior to the scheduled hearing. (Ord. 2010-718 § 1 (Exh. A))

4.34.060 Conduct of hearings – Decisions.

On any matters which require an open record hearing, the examiner shall conduct such proceedings substantially in accordance with the procedures of Chapter 14.09 MCMC, the requirements of the specific code chapter under which the action or hearing arises, and as may be provided in the examiner’s rules. All testimony at hearings shall be taken under oath, which may be administered by the examiner individually or otherwise. Following the conclusion of any hearing, the examiner shall evaluate the matter and timely prepare and issue a final decision and order as appropriate to the matter. The decision shall be in writing and shall conform with the requirements of MCMC 14.09.080, the requirements of the specific code chapter under which the action or hearing arises, and as may be provided in the examiner’s rules. (Ord. 2010-718 § 1 (Exh. A))

4.34.070 Appointment, compensation, term and removal of examiner.

The city manager shall appoint the examiner and make contractual arrangements as appropriate, including term and compensation, subject to city council ratification. An examiner may be removed from office by the city manager in accordance with the terms of the contractual arrangements between the city and the examiner. (Ord. 2010-718 § 1 (Exh. A))

4.34.080 Qualifications of examiner.

Examiners shall be appointed with regard to their availability and qualifications for performing the duties of the examiner’s office. Examiners shall be active licensed attorneys in the state of Washington and/or shall have such training and experience as will qualify them to perform their duties. Examiners shall hold no other elective or appointive office or position with the city of Mill Creek. (Ord. 2010-718 § 1 (Exh. A))

4.34.090 Freedom from improper influence – Legal services.

No person, including elected or appointed city officials or city employees, shall attempt to improperly influence the examiner in any matter then pending, or to interfere with the examiner in the performance of his duties; provided, that this section shall not prohibit the office of the city attorney from rendering legal services to the examiner upon request, which services shall not preclude the office of the city attorney from providing legal services to the city or any of its departments, elected or appointed officials, directors, or employees. (Ord. 2010-718 § 1 (Exh. A))

4.34.100 Conflict of interest.

Examiners shall comply with applicable conflict of interest statutes with regard to any matter before them. If there are no other applicable conflict of interest statutes, no examiner shall conduct or participate in any matter under this chapter in which the examiner has a direct or substantial indirect financial or familial interest, or concerning which the examiner has had substantial prehearing contacts with proponents or opponents, unless such conflicts are disclosed to and waived by the parties involved. (Ord. 2010-718 § 1 (Exh. A))

4.34.110 Examiner’s reports.

The examiner shall provide reports of the examiner’s activities as requested by the city manager. At least annually, the examiner shall prepare a complete report setting forth a list of all the matters conducted during the preceding year, the type and nature of such matters, the actions taken and decisions issued by the examiner as to such matters, significant issues (if any) related to such matters, and discussion of procedural or substantive issues identified by the examiner or others during the handling of such matters that warrant the city manager’s attention. Such report shall be at no charge to the city unless otherwise provided in the contractual arrangements with the examiner. (Ord. 2010-718 § 1 (Exh. A))