Chapter 17.01


17.01.010    Purpose.

17.01.020    Definitions.

17.01.030    Applicability.

17.01.040    Administration.

17.01.050    Compliance with City standards.

17.01.060    Consent to access.

17.01.070    Effect of filing a complete application – Vesting.

17.01.080    Transfer and development of lots not divided according to this chapter.

17.01.090    Monuments.

17.01.010 Purpose.

This title shall be known as the subdivision code, and shall supplement and implement Chapter 58.17 RCW. The purpose of this title is as follows:

A. To regulate the subdivision of land;

B. To promote the public health, safety and general welfare in accordance with standards established by the state;

C. To prevent the overcrowding of land;

D. To manage congestion in the streets and highways;

E. To promote effective use of land;

F. To promote safe and convenient travel by the public on streets and highways;

G. To provide for adequate light and air;

H. To facilitate adequate provision for water, sewerage, parks and recreation areas, sites for schools and school grounds and other public requirements;

I. To provide for proper ingress and egress;

J. To provide for the expeditious review and approval of proposed subdivisions which conform to zoning standards and local comprehensive plans and Comprehensive Plan policies;

K. To adequately provide for the housing and commercial needs of the citizens of the state;

L. To require uniform monumenting of land subdivisions and conveyance of properties by accurate legal description;

M. To further the Comprehensive Plan policies addressing subdivisions and sustainability;

N. To promote the preservation of critical areas and encourage low impact development;

O. To serve to maintain the current character of the City;

P. To encourage efficient and cost-effective provisions for installing infrastructure, limit the development impact area and minimize impervious surfaces;

Q. To encourage sustainable site design which will protect critical areas and the larger environment, including the preservation of natural site amenities such as watercourses, wetlands, and topographic and geologic features;

R. To encourage low impact development (LID) practices when providing for sewer and water, utilities, stormwater management, streets and sidewalks;

S. To protect and preserve trees and the urban forest for its environmental and economic benefits;

T. To encourage site design that can make the best use of renewable energy resources including solar and geothermal; and

U. To provide adequate siting for park and recreation areas, sites for schools and playgrounds and other public requirements. (Ord. 2658 § 2, 2015).

17.01.020 Definitions.

As used in this title, unless the context or subject matter clearly requires otherwise, the words or phrases defined in this chapter shall have the indicated meanings. If there are conflicts between the definitions of this title and other titles of the Mountlake Terrace Municipal Code, the provisions of this title shall prevail.

“Adequate public facilities” means facilities which have the capacity to serve development without decreasing levels of service below minimums established by the City in the Comprehensive Plan.

“Alley” means a public or private right-of-way used primarily as a secondary means of vehicular access to residences and business establishments for provision of services (e.g., deliveries, trash collection, utility service) and for access to private driveways. Alleys are not the sole means of access to property.

“Applicant” means the owner of land proposed to be subdivided or its representative who shall have express written authority to act on behalf of the owner.

“Available public facilities” means that facilities or services are in place or that a financial commitment is in place to provide the facilities or services within a specified time. In the case of transportation, the specified time is six years from the time of development.

“Binding site plan” is a drawing to scale which (1) identifies and shows the areas and locations of all streets, roads, improvements, utilities, open spaces, and any other matters identified in Chapter 17.07 MTMC; (2) contains inscriptions or attachments setting forth such appropriate limitations and conditions for the use of the land as are established by the decision-maker with authority to approve the site plan; and (3) contains provisions making any development be in conformity with the site plan.

“Block” is a group of lots, tracts or parcels within well-defined and fixed boundaries.

“Bond” means any form of surety bond or acceptable guarantee of an amount and form satisfactory to the City.

“Boundary line adjustment” means the shifting or elimination of lot lines between adjacent parcels, resulting in the same or less number of lots that existed before the adjustment or elimination of lot lines.

“Building setback line” means a line parallel to the property line in front of which no structure shall be erected. The location of such line shall be determined from the regulations of the Zoning Ordinance of the City.

“Building site” means real property upon which structures are permitted subject to conformance with all applicable development standards, and which satisfies, or at one time satisfied, the applicable zoning code standards for physical placement, lot coverage, construction of structures and all other location and dimensional requirements for the structure.

“City” means the City of Mountlake Terrace.

“Common ownership” means ownership by the same person, corporation, firm, entity, partnership or unincorporated association, or ownership by different corporations, firms, partnerships, entities or unincorporated associations, in which a stockbroker, partner or associate, or a member of his family owns an interest in each corporation, firm, partnership, entity or unincorporated association.

“Comprehensive Plan(s)” mean the adopted plans of the City of Mountlake Terrace for the orderly growth of the City and shall include but not be limited to comprehensive, water, road, drainage, sewer, open space, and land use plans as adopted or amended at the time of consideration of any preliminary plat or short subdivision.

“Concurrency” means that adequate public facilities are available when the impacts of development occur. This definition includes the two concepts of “adequate public facilities” and of “available public facilities” as defined above.

“Condominium,” pursuant to RCW 64.34.020(9), means real property, portions of which are designated for separate ownership and the remainder of which is designated for common ownership solely by the owners of those separate portions. Real property is not a condominium unless the undivided interests in the common elements are vested in the unit owners, and unless a declaration and a survey map and plans have been recorded against the property, pursuant to this title and other applicable law.

“Consistency” means that no feature of a plan or regulation is incompatible with any other feature of a plan or regulation. Consistency is indicative of a capacity for orderly integration or operation with other elements in a system.

“Corner lot” means a lot which abuts on two or more intersecting streets.

“County” means the County of Snohomish, Washington.

“Days” shall mean calendar days unless otherwise defined. If a period ends on a legal holiday or Saturday or Sunday, the last day shall be the next business day.

“Dedication” is the deliberate appropriation of land or rights in land by its owner for any general and public use, reserving to himself or herself no other rights than such as are compatible with the full exercise and enjoyment of the public use to which the property has been devoted.

“Domestic water system” means any system providing a supply of potable water which is deemed adequate pursuant to RCW 19.27.097 for the intended use of the development.

“Driveway” means a private vehicular travel way across a site, or providing vehicular access to not more than one abutting noncommercial site or two additional single-family residential lots if contained in an access easement.

“Easement” means an authorization by a property owner for another to use the owner’s property for a specified purpose.

“Escrow” means a deposit of cash with the City or escrow agent, pursuant to a written agreement, in order to secure the promise to perform some act.

“External buffer” means a naturally vegetated area or vegetated area along the exterior boundaries of an entire development processed in accordance with a subdivision application which is landscaped and maintained as open space in order to eliminate or minimize conflicts between such development and adjacent land uses.

“Fee simple unit lot subdivision” means a division of land for purposes of individual ownership of residential single-family, townhouse or cottage house units that are otherwise collectively permitted on a single parcel of land.

“Final plat” is the final drawing of the subdivision and dedication prepared for filing of record with the County Auditor, and containing all elements and requirements set forth in Chapter 58.17 RCW and this title.

“Financial commitment” means that sources of public or private funds or combinations thereof have been identified which will be sufficient to finance public facilities necessary to support development and that there is a reasonable assurance that such funds will be timely put to that end.

“Flag lot” is a lot configured with a narrow extension of land connecting the main buildable area of the lot to a street, private street, or alley. The narrow extension of land in a flag lot provides for vehicular and/or utility access to the main buildable area of the lot, but is not wide enough for development and does not meet minimum lot width requirements. Flag lots are also known as “pan-handle” or “pipe stem” lots.

“Improvement” means the installation, construction or placement of any structure, building, pavement or other object that is erected, affixed, poured, formed or otherwise placed on or in the ground as a permanent or long-term feature of a site. The term does not include vegetation or other organic landscaping features.

“Interior lot” means a lot which has frontage on one street or private street only. The term also includes “through lots.”

“Irregular lot” means one which is shaped so that application of setback requirements is difficult. Examples include a lot with a shape that is not close to rectangular, or a lot with no readily identifiable rear lot line, or a flag lot.

“Legal lot or lot of record” means a parcel of land satisfying the requirements of MTMC 17.01.080.

“Level of service” means an established minimum capacity of public facilities or services that must be provided per unit of demand or other appropriate measure of need.

“Lot” is a fractional part of legally divided lands having fixed boundaries, being of sufficient area and dimension to meet minimum zoning requirements for width and area. The term shall include tracts or parcels.

“Lot frontage” means any boundary of a lot that is along an existing or dedicated street or private street.

“Lot line, front” means that boundary of a lot which is along an existing street or private street (including streets on corner lots), or, in the case of through lots or lots where no public or private street exists, it is the line first crossed when gaining legal vehicular access to the property.

“Lot line, rear” means that boundary of a lot most nearly opposite and distant from the front lot line. In the case of corner lots, the rear lot line is the line most distant and opposite of the narrower of the two frontages. In the case of through lots, it is the line most nearly opposite the front lot line. In the case of three-sided, triangular, or pie shaped lots having boundaries that converge to the rear, there is no rear lot line, in which case the provisions of MTMC 19.120.190(C)(4) apply. In the case of other irregular shaped lots, the rear lot line shall be determined by the Director based upon an examination of existing or likely setbacks of surrounding development.

“Lot line, side” means any boundary of a lot that is not defined as a front lot line or rear lot line.

“Lot width” means any straight-line dimension between side lot lines located between and generally parallel to front and/or rear setback lines.

“Low impact development” means a stormwater management and site design strategy that emphasizes conservation and use of existing natural site features integrated with distributed, small-scale stormwater controls to more closely mimic natural hydrologic patterns. The goal is to manage stormwater where it falls by reducing effective impervious surfaces and maintaining and/or re-establishing native vegetation.

“Metes and bounds” means a description of real property which starts at a known point of beginning and describes the compass bearings and distances of the lines forming the boundaries of the property, and is completed when the description returns to the point of beginning.

“Mid-block connection” means an easement or tract of land connecting two sides of a residential block, usually located near the middle of said block and typically intended for pedestrian and bicycle use.

“Model home” means a dwelling unit used initially for display purposes which typifies the type of units that will be constructed in the subdivision and which will not be permanently occupied during its use as a model.

“Monument” means an object used to permanently mark a surveyed location.

“Nonconforming lot” means one which met applicable dimensional requirements of the Zoning Ordinance at the date on which it was created but which, due to the passage of a Zoning Ordinance, the amendment thereof, the acquisition of a portion of the lot for right-of-way purposes, or the annexation of legally divided property to the City, no longer conforms to the current provisions of the City’s Zoning Ordinance.

“Off site” means any premises not located within the bounds of the property to be subdivided, whether or not in the common ownership of the applicant for subdivision approval.

“Open space” means a portion of land excluding building sites and parking areas which is designated and maintained as an area for natural preserve, leisure, recreation and/or other activities normally carried on outdoors. Open space may include greenbelt and recreational areas.

Parcel. See definition of “lot.”

“Pavement width” means the actual paved surface measured from edge to edge of driveway, street or alley road surfaces.

“Person” means every natural person, firm, partnership, association, social or fraternal organization, corporation, estate, trust, receiver, syndicate, branch of government, or any other group or combination acting as a unit.

“Plat” is a map or representation showing thereon the division of a tract or parcel of land into lots, blocks, streets and alleys or other divisions and dedications.

“Plat certificate” means a title report by a title insurance company certifying the ownership, deed restrictions, covenants, etc., of the land being subdivided.

“Preliminary plat” is a neat and approximate drawing of a proposed subdivision showing the general layout of streets, private streets, alleys, lots, blocks and other elements of a subdivision consistent with the requirements of this title. The preliminary plat shall be the basis for the approval or disapproval of the general layout of a subdivision of 10 or more lots.

“Private street” means a privately owned tract of land that provides vehicular, bicycle, pedestrian and utility access for up to four residential units and meets the requirements of adopted City street standards.

“Public facilities” means streets, roads, highways, sidewalks, street and road lighting systems, traffic signals, domestic water systems, storm and sanitary sewer systems, parks and recreational facilities and schools.

“Right-of-way” or “R/W” means a strip of land deeded or dedicated to the City or other entity for street, utility and/or drainage purposes.

“Road” or “roadway” is a street or private street.

“Sale or lease” means any immediate or future transfer of ownership, or any possessory interest in land, including contract of sale, lease, devise, intestate succession, or other transfer of an interest in a subdivision or part thereof, whether by metes and bounds or lot and block description.

“Sanitary sewer systems” means all facilities, including approved on-site disposal facilities, used in the collection, transmission, storage, treatment, or discharge of any water borne waste, whether domestic in origin or a combination of domestic, commercial or industrial waste.

“Setback” means the minimum distance that buildings, structures or improvements must be setback from a lot line. Setback is measured perpendicular to the lot line at any point along the lot line, resulting in a continuous line or arc running parallel to said lot line. Where setback lines intersect with other setback lines, the more restrictive setback standard applies.

“Setback, front” means the minimum distance required by this code for a building, structure or improvement to be set back from the front lot line. Front setback is measured from the front property line or, in the case of flag lots, from the point beyond the front lot line at which the lot widens to the minimum required lot width.

“Setback, rear” means the minimum distance required by this code for a building, structure or improvement to be set back from the rear lot line.

“Setback, side” means the minimum distance required by this code for a building, structure or improvement to be set back from a side lot line.

“Short plat” is the map or representation of a short subdivision.

“Short subdivision” means the division or re-division of land into nine or fewer lots, tracts, parcels or divisions for the purpose of sale or lease.

“Street” means a dedicated and accepted public right-of-way for vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic, and also for utility services. See also definition of “private street.”

“Street standards” means the requirements contained in Chapter 17.10 MTMC, and in the standard drawings and documents specified in the Transportation Master Plan adopted by City Ordinance No. 2465 and as may be subsequently amended.

“Subdivider” means any person, firm or corporation who divides or subdivides any land deemed to be a subdivision or short subdivision.

“Subdivision” means the division or redivision of land into 10 or more lots, tracts, parcels, sites or divisions for the purpose of sale or lease, or transfer of ownership, except as provided in MTMC 17.01.030(E), and includes all resubdivision of land.

“Subdivision improvement agreement” means a contract between the City and applicant/developer pursuant to Chapter 17.06 MTMC, by which the applicant agrees to complete the required public improvements in the subdivision within a specified time period following final subdivision plat approval and posts security to ensure such completion.

“Surveyor” means a registered professional land surveyor licensed to practice surveying in the state of Washington.

“Through lot” means a lot fronting on two streets and/or private streets that is not a corner lot.

“Tract” is a nonbuildable unit of land created by a subdivision, short subdivision, deed, or other instrument recorded with the appropriate County Recorder. Tracts are usually held in common by the owners of an organization, such as a homeowners’ association, for common benefit and are not required to meet minimum lot size and dimensional requirements of the applicable zone.

“Transportation facilities” includes capital facilities related to air, water or land transportation.

“Transportation level of service standards” means a measure which describes the operational condition of the travel stream and acceptable adequacy requirements, as identified in the City’s Comprehensive Plan (as required by RCW 36.70A.070(6)(b)).

“Utilities” or “public utilities” means enterprises or facilities serving the public by means of an integrated system of collection, transmission, distribution and processing facilities through more or less permanent physical connections between the plant of the serving entity and the premises of the customer. Included are systems for the delivery of natural gas, electricity, telecommunications services and water, and for the disposal of sewage. (Ord. 2658 § 2, 2015).

17.01.030 Applicability.

A. The provisions of this title shall apply to all divisions of land within the corporate limits of the City of Mountlake Terrace, except as expressly stated in this title.

B. No persons shall sell, lease or transfer the ownership of, or offer for sale, lease or transfer of ownership, any real property that is subject to this title without full compliance with this title and the applicable portions of the City of Mountlake Terrace Comprehensive Plan, MTMC Title 16 (the City’s environmental regulations), MTMC Title 18 (the City’s Land Use Planning and Development Code), MTMC Title 19 (the City’s Zoning Code), Chapter 15.35 MTMC (insofar as there are no conflicts with this title; otherwise this title shall prevail), and Chapter 58.17 RCW.

C. Divisions of land into nine or fewer lots shall be in compliance with the regulations and standards governing short subdivisions set out in Chapter 17.03 MTMC, unless the binding site plan procedures of Chapters 17.05 and 17.07 MTMC are followed. Division of land into 10 or more lots shall comply with regulations and standards pertaining to subdivisions contained herein and must follow the preliminary and final procedures set forth in Chapters 17.04 and 17.07 MTMC, or, if applicable, the binding site plan process.

D. Sale of land is prohibited unless it is a legally platted parcel of land or lot or is a parcel of land divided under the provisions of this title, or unless such agreement for sale complies with RCW 58.17.205.

E. Exemptions. The provisions of this title shall not apply to the activities described in subsections (E)(1) through (6) of this section.

1. Cemeteries and other burial plots while used for that purpose;

2. Divisions of land into lots or tracts each of which is one-one-hundred-twenty-eighth of a section of land or larger, or five acres or larger if the land is not capable of description as a fraction or a section of land; provided, that for purposes of computing the size of any lot under this item which borders on a street or road, the lot size shall be expanded to include that area which would be bounded by the center line of the road or street and the side lot lines of the lot running perpendicular to such center line;

3. Divisions made by testamentary provisions, or the laws of descent;

4. A division for the purpose of leasing land for facilities providing personal wireless services while used for that purpose. “Personal wireless service” means any federally licensed personal wireless service. “Facilities” means unstaffed facilities that are used for the transmission or reception, or both, of wireless communication services including, but not necessarily limited to, antenna arrays, transmission cables, equipment shelters and support structures;

5. A division of land into lots or tracts of less than three acres that is recorded in accordance with Chapter 58.09 RCW and is used or will be used for the purpose of establishing a site for construction and operation of consumer-owned or investor-owned electric utility facilities. For purposes of this subsection, “electric utility facilities” means unstaffed facilities, except for the presence of security personnel, that are used for or in connection with or to facilitate the transmission, distribution, sale or furnishing of electricity including, but not limited to, electric power substations. This subsection does not exempt a division of land from the zoning and permitting laws and regulations of the City. Furthermore, this subsection only applies to electric utility facilities that will be placed into service to meet the electrical needs of a utility’s existing and new customers. New customers are defined as electric service locations not already in existence as of the date that electric utility facilities subject to the provisions of this subsection are planned and constructed;

6. Right-of-Way Acquisition and Condemnation.

a. A division of land related to the acquisition or exchange of land by public agencies, for public use except human occupancy, including but not limited to subdivisions made for road construction purposes;

b. A division of land for the sole use of the installation of linear utility facilities, such as electric power lines, telephone lines, water supply lines, sewer service lines, cable lines or other utility facilities of a similar or related nature; and

c. Division of land due to condemnation or sale under threat thereof by an agency or division of government vested with the power of condemnation; if sale is made under threat of condemnation, such threat must be evidenced by the government agency filing affidavit so stating with the County Auditor. (Ord. 2658 § 2, 2015).

17.01.040 Administration.

A. Delegation of Responsibility. The Directors of Community and Economic Development and Engineering Services, hereinafter the “Director,” and/or his/her designee(s), are delegated the responsibility for administration, coordination and enforcement contained in this title, pursuant to Chapter 58.17 RCW. The Director of Engineering Services shall have primary responsibility for compliance with the provisions of Mountlake Terrace Engineering Details and Specifications and all other applicable standards, including but not limited to WSDOT Standard Specifications, Department of Ecology’s Stormwater Management Manual for Western Washington, etc. The Director of Community and Economic Development shall have primary responsibility for compliance with the procedural and nonengineering aspects of this title, and for all other applicable nonengineering standards, including but not limited to the City’s Comprehensive Plan, Zoning Code, Shoreline Master Program, and environmental standards including SEPA.

B. Enforcement. This title shall be enforced pursuant to Chapter 19.140 MTMC. (Ord. 2792 § 8, 2021; Ord. 2679 § 4, 2016; Ord. 2658 § 2, 2015).

17.01.050 Compliance with City standards.

In addition to compliance with this title, all subdivisions, short subdivisions, boundary line adjustments, binding site plans, fee simple unit lot subdivisions, preliminary plat amendments, subdivision alterations and vacations shall adhere to all applicable adopted City standards and regulations, including, but not limited to, the Comprehensive Plan, the Shoreline Master Program, the sewer comprehensive plan, the water system plan, the comprehensive stormwater drainage plan, the City’s street and utility standards, the City’s Zoning and Building Codes, the City’s Concurrency Ordinance, public works and street standards, stormwater drainage code, and Critical Areas Ordinance, all of which have been adopted by ordinance and are on file with the City Clerk. (Ord. 2658 § 2, 2015).

17.01.060 Consent to access.

All persons applying for approvals under this title shall permit free access to the land subject to the application to all agencies with jurisdiction considering the proposal for the period of time extending from the date of application to the time of final action. (Ord. 2658 § 2, 2015).

17.01.070 Effect of filing a complete application – Vesting.

A complete application for a short plat, preliminary plat or binding site plan shall be considered under the subdivision, short subdivision or preliminary binding site plan regulations and zoning or other land use control ordinances in effect on the land at the time the fully completed application for the preliminary plat approval of the subdivision, short plat approval of the short subdivision, or a preliminary binding site plan has been submitted to the Community Development Department. The limitations imposed by this section shall not restrict conditions imposed under Chapter 43.21C RCW (the State Environmental Policy Act). (Ord. 2658 § 2, 2015).

17.01.080 Transfer and development of lots not divided according to this chapter.

No building permit, or other development permit, shall be issued for any lot, tract or parcel of land divided in violation of this title unless the Director finds that the public interest will not be adversely affected thereby. This prohibition shall not apply to lots of record as described in subsection A of this section, or to innocent purchasers without actual notice of such violation, as described in subsection B of this section.

A. Legal Lot Criteria for Building or Transfer of Ownership. A lot is considered a lot of record if it meets any one of the criteria listed below in this subsection A. Lots of record may be transferred and developed as separate legal lots even though such lots may not have been created according to this chapter. Even though a lot may be deemed legal, development on said lot shall be subject to all applicable sections of the City’s Zoning Code and development standards.

1. Lots of record include:

a. Any lot, the legal description of which has been recorded in a plat or short subdivision filed with the County Auditor after June 1937;

b. Any lot created and separately developed before June 9, 1937;

c. Lots created by court order for adverse possessions or divorces;

d. Lots exempted under subsection A of this section and lots transferred to a bona fide innocent purchaser for value in accordance with this title; and

e. Any lot created prior to October 21, 1979, and not otherwise meeting the criteria set forth above; provided, that there must be no adjoining lots of record of contiguous boundary in the same ownership to which the substandard lot can be merged in title or with which the lot lines can be adjusted to create lots of record that would comply with this title.

B. Innocent Purchaser and Public Interest.

1. Innocent Purchasers. Where the purchase value of a parcel and subsequent tax assessments are consistent with a buildable lot of record, the Director may determine that a parcel owned by an innocent purchaser without actual notice (that the parcel has been divided in violation of this title) may be developed as lots of record. The Director’s decision shall be based on the following criteria:

a. Zoning.

i. The parcel meets minimum zoning and dimensional requirements, including lot size, dimensions and frontage width, which are currently in effect or which were in effect at the time the parcel was created;

ii. The parcel lacks sufficient area or dimension to meet current zoning requirements but the parcel size is consistent with surrounding lots of record.

b. Public Health.

i. The parcel meets minimum public health dimensional requirements currently in effect or which were in effect at the time the parcel was created;

ii. The Director finds that the parcel does not adversely affect public health or safety or interfere with the implementation of the Comprehensive Plan.

c. Status.

i. The current property owner purchased the property for value and in good faith, and did not have knowledge of the fact that the property acquired was divided from a larger parcel in violation of the regulations listed under “lots of record” in subsection A of this section;

ii. The Director determines that improvements or conditions of approval, which would have been imposed if the parcel had been established through platting, are already present and completed;

iii. The property owner completes improvements which the Director determines would otherwise be imposed if the parcel had been established through platting under current standards. (Ord. 2658 § 2, 2015).

17.01.090 Monuments.

A. Permanent survey control monuments shall be provided for all land divisions at:

1. All controlling corners on the boundaries of the land division;

2. The intersection of centerline of rights-of-way within and/or associated with the land division; and

3. The beginning and ends of curves on centerlines or points of intersections on tangents.

B. Permanent survey control monuments shall be set in two-inch pipe, 30 inches long with a brass cap, filled with concrete, or shall be constructed of an approved equivalent. Permanent survey control monuments within a street shall be set after the street is paved. Every lot corner shall be marked by a three-quarter-inch galvanized iron pipe or approved equivalent, driven into the ground. If any land in a land division is contiguous to a meandered body of water, the meander line shall be re-established and shown on the final plat, short plat or other recorded land division instrument. (Ord. 2658 § 2, 2015).