Chapter 19.47


19.47.010    Purpose.

19.47.020    Applicability.

19.47.030    Permits.

19.47.040    Exemptions.

19.47.050    Application for land clearing permit.

19.47.060    Minor clearing permit.

19.47.065    Performance standards.

19.47.070    Performance bond or cash guarantee.

19.47.080    Appeals.

19.47.090    Civil/criminal enforcement.

19.47.100    Injunctive enforcement.

19.47.110    Severability.

19.47.120    Permit fees.

19.47.130    Compliance with state law.

19.47.010 Purpose.

These regulations are adopted for the following purposes:

(1) To promote the public health, safety and general welfare of the citizens of Oak Harbor;

(2) To preserve and enhance the city’s physical and aesthetic character by preventing indiscriminate removal or destruction of trees and ground cover on undeveloped and partially developed property;

(3) To promote land development practices that result in a minimal disturbance to the city’s vegetation and soils;

(4) To minimize surface water and ground water runoff and diversion and to prevent erosion and reduce the risk of slides;

(5) To minimize the need for additional storm drainage facilities and to promote low impact development grading and clearing techniques;

(6) To acknowledge that trees and ground cover reduce air pollution by producing pure oxygen from carbon dioxide;

(7) To promote building and site planning practices that are consistent with the city’s natural topographic and vegetation features while at the same time recognizing that certain factors such as condition (e.g., disease, danger of falling, etc.), proximity to existing and proposed structures and improvements, interference with utility services, protection of scenic views, and the realization of a reasonable enjoyment of property may require removal of certain trees and ground cover;

(8) To ensure prompt development, restoration and replanting and effective erosion control of property after land clearing through the use of phased development, performance bonds, and other reasonable controls;

(9) To reduce siltation and water pollution;

(10) To implement the goals and objectives of the Washington State Environmental Policy Act;

(11) To maintain the rural character of the city;

(12) To protect and enhance critical lands and their buffers;

(13) To implement the following environmental element policies as stated in the comprehensive plan:

(a) Policy 1.c: Protect the public and public resources and facilities from injury, loss of life, property damage or financial loss due to flooding, erosion, landslides, soil subsidence and slope failure;

(b) Policy 6.c: Require planting or retention of trees and shrubs with new development and substantial development projects;

(c) Policy 6.g: The city shall require developers to submit and receive city approval of erosion control and limit-of-clearing plans, as applicable, prior to release of forest practices permits and land clearing;

(d) Policy 6.h: Consider adopting a land clearing and grading ordinance to prevent indiscriminate removal or destruction of trees and ground cover on undeveloped and partially developed property;

(14) To allow the reasonable development of land in the city of Oak Harbor. (Ord. 1616 § 1, 2011; Ord. 1555 § 21, 2009).

19.47.020 Applicability.

This chapter applies to all properties within the city with exceptions as listed in OHMC 19.47.040. This chapter does not apply to oak trees, which are regulated under Chapter 20.16 OHMC. (Ord. 1616 § 1, 2011; Ord. 1555 § 21, 2009).

19.47.030 Permits.

No person, corporation, or other legal entity shall engage in or cause land clearing in the city without having obtained a land clearing permit or minor clearing permit. Obtaining a land clearing permit or minor clearing permit does not exempt any person from obtaining a grading permit, when required. (Ord. 1616 § 1, 2011; Ord. 1555 § 21, 2009).

19.47.040 Exemptions.

The following shall be exempt from the provisions of this chapter:

(1) The installation and maintenance of fire hydrants, surface electrical transformer boxes, water meters, water and sewer mains, pumping stations, pedestrian or bicycle connections, and street improvements by the city or its contractors;

(2) Removal of trees and ground cover in emergency situations involving immediate danger to life or property or substantial fire hazards;

(3) Removal of dead or diseased ground cover or trees. If there is a question as to whether ground cover or trees are diseased, an arborist or city staff shall inspect the site and determine whether the plant needs to be removed;

(4) Removal of trees or ground cover on partially developed lots, for purposes of general property and utility maintenance, landscaping or gardening; provided, that this exemption shall not apply to any land clearing which includes the use of a bulldozer or similar mechanical equipment and shall not be construed to eliminate the requirement of permits for land clearing for the purpose of developing the property with substantial permanent improvements such as roads, driveways, utilities, or buildings;

(5) Developed single-family residential lots;

(6) Individual undeveloped single-family residential lots where a building permit has been issued. (Ord. 1616 § 1, 2011; Ord. 1555 § 21, 2009).

19.47.050 Application for land clearing permit.

(1) An application for a land clearing permit shall be submitted by the owner or authorized agent on a form provided by the city and shall be accompanied by such of the following documents and information as are determined to be necessary by the city staff as indicated on the application form.

(2) Applications shall be submitted with the preliminary plat application, where applicable.

(3) City staff shall complete its review and make its decision within 20 working days from the date a complete land clearing application is submitted, if such application is submitted as a stand-alone application. However, if the application is submitted with a preliminary plat, binding site plan, site plan review, planned residential development or other development application, the review shall be completed within the prescribed timelines of Chapter 18.20 OHMC, unless an extension is authorized by the director.

(4) Any permit granted hereunder shall expire six months from the date of issuance. Approved plans shall not be amended without authorization of the city staff. The permit may be suspended or revoked by the city staff because of incorrect information supplied, not following the approved plan or any violation of the provisions of this chapter. A one-time six-month extension may be approved by the director upon submission of a letter from the applicant stating the reason for delay and approximate time clearing will be completed.

(5) The city shall be advised by the property owner or authorized agent the day prior to beginning any land clearing operations.

(6) Land clearing involving the use of heavy equipment shall be limited to those hours indicated in OHMC 6.56.030(1)(h).

(7) The applicant shall be responsible for posting the property as per Chapter 18.21 OHMC.

(8) In the case that multiple owners own a share in a property, a homeowners’ association or other similar maintenance association shall be responsible for continued maintenance of the land and remaining vegetation, subsequent to land clearing.

(9) An erosion and sediment control plan shall be approved prior to issuance of a land clearing permit, or as a condition of approval of a land clearing permit. (Ord. 1616 § 1, 2011; Ord. 1555 § 21, 2009).

19.47.060 Minor clearing permit.

In the case that a property owner wishes to remove five percent or less of the total trees and ground cover on a site, the owner may apply for a minor clearing permit.

(1) To apply for a permit, the owner must submit a letter requesting approval to remove the trees and/or ground cover. Such letter shall provide the following information:

(a) The percentage of total ground cover and trees which will be removed, as compared to the existing amount of trees and ground cover on the lot;

(b) Location of the trees and/or ground cover proposed for removal;

(c) If applicable, the approximate date the last minor clearing permit was approved by the city;

(d) Date that trees and/or ground cover are to be removed.

(2) At no time shall the city approve, either by individual permit or by multiple permits, the removal of more than five percent of ground cover and trees on a lot per year through the minor clearing permit. Any proposed tree or ground cover removal above the annual maximum of five percent is subject to the land clearing permit process.

(3) The minor clearing permits may not be used for requesting the removal of trees within a required buffer on arterial streets per OHMC 21.60.180. (Ord. 1616 § 1, 2011; Ord. 1555 § 21, 2009).

19.47.065 Performance standards.

Compliance with the following performance standards is required prior to the approval of a land clearing permit in OHMC 19.47.050, unless an exemption is clearly justified in the SWPPP.

(1) Minimize Potential Impacts. All grading and clearing activities shall be conducted so as to minimize potential adverse effects of these activities on forested lands, surface water quality and quantity, groundwater recharge, fish and wildlife habitat, adjacent properties, and downstream drainage channels in accordance with the performance standards in this section.

(2) Stormwater Consistency of Standards. All standards under this code will be consistent with the latest version of the Stormwater Management Manual for Western Washington, pursuant to OHMC Title 12.

(3) Natural Features and Vegetation Retention. Projects shall be phased to the maximum degree practical and shall take into account seasonal work limitations, to decrease exposed soils and minimize adverse impacts to natural features and vegetation resulting from land disturbance activities. The director shall have the authority to require a phased land clearing plan.

(4) Dust Suppression. Dust from clearing, grading, and other construction activities shall be minimized at all times. Impervious surfaces on or near the construction area shall be swept, vacuumed, or otherwise maintained to suppress dust entrainment. Any dust suppressants used shall be approved by the director or designee. Petrochemical dust suppressants are prohibited. Watering the site to suppress dust is also prohibited unless it can be done in a way that keeps sediment out of the drainage system.

(5) Erosion and Sedimentation Control. Erosion and sedimentation control BMPs shall be designed and implemented appropriate to the scale of the project and necessary to prevent sediment from leaving the project site, including but not limited to the standards and requirements described in this chapter, and in the latest edition of the Department of Ecology Stormwater Management Manual for Western Washington.

(a) In addition to the measures in this and other codes and ordinances, the development services director or designee may impose the following erosion control measures, or other additional measures, as appropriate for the project:

(i) Funding additional city inspection time, up to a full-time inspector.

(ii) Stopping work if necessary to control erosion and sedimentation.

(6) Native Soil Protection and Amendment. The duff layer and native topsoil shall be retained in an undisturbed state to the maximum extent practicable. In areas requiring grading, remove and stockpile the duff layer and topsoil on site in a designated, controlled area, not adjacent to public resources and critical areas, to be reapplied to other portions of the site where feasible.

(7) Protection of Critical Areas. The function and values of all critical areas, including all stream types, geologically unstable areas, critical aquifer recharge areas, frequently flooded areas, wetlands, and fish and wildlife conservation areas or habitats, and their critical area buffers located on or adjacent to the site shall be protected from clearing and grading activities that result in sedimentation, erosion, and degradation. Such impacts shall be avoided by appropriate use of setbacks, erosion, and sediment control measures, construction barriers, and other appropriate best development and management practices.

(8) Avoidance of Hazards. Land disturbance activities shall not result in off-site physical damage, nor pose a danger or hazard to life or property.

(9) Cut and Fill Slopes. Cut and fill slopes shall be designed and constructed in a manner that will minimize erosion. In addition, slopes shall be stabilized in accordance with the requirements of this section. The applicant shall:

(a) Submit a geotechnical report, prepared by a geotechnical engineer, when required pursuant to OHMC Title 20 including critical area ordinance provisions for qualified professional reports.

(b) Minimize clearing and grading on slopes 15 percent or greater and meet any geologically sensitive areas performance standards set forth in Chapter 20.28 OHMC.

(c) Comply with the geologically sensitive areas restrictions (Chapter 20.28 OHMC) applicable to slopes 40 percent or greater and to areas of colluvial or landslide deposit on slopes of 15 percent or greater.

(d) Limit the maximum gradient of artificial slopes to no steeper than 2:1 (two feet of horizontal run to one foot of vertical fall) unless a geotechnical engineering report and slope stability analysis is provided and shows that a factor of safety of at least 1.5 for static loads and 1.1 for pseudostatic loads can be met.

(e) Do no clearing, excavation, stockpiling, or filling on the potential slide block of an unstable or potentially unstable slope unless it is demonstrated to the city engineer’s satisfaction that the activity would not increase the load, drainage, or erosion on the slope.

(f) Do no clearing, excavation, stockpiling, or filling on any unstable or potentially unstable areas (such as landslide deposits) unless it is demonstrated to the city engineers that the activity would not increase the risk of damage to adjacent property or natural resources or injury to persons.

(g) Intercept any ground water, subsurface water, or surface water drainage encountered on a cut slope and discharge it at a location approved by the city of Oak Harbor development services department. Off-site stormwater (run-on) or groundwater shall be diverted away from slopes and undisturbed areas with interceptor dikes, pipes and/or swales. Off-site stormwater should be managed separately from stormwater generated on the site.

(h) Design and protect cut and fill slopes to minimize erosion.

(i) Excavated material shall be placed on the uphill side of trenches, consistent with safety and space considerations.

(j) Check dams shall be placed at regular intervals within constructed channels that are cut down a slope.

(10) Slash Removal. Slash from clearing shall preferably be chipped and used in native vegetation areas on the site within one year of project completion.

(11) Seasonality – Temporary Restrictions. Seasonality refers to the wet season (defined as the period from October 1st through April 30th). Clearing, grading, and other land disturbing activities may be approved by the development services director or designee for proposals that have minimal disturbance of soils and are on sites with predominant soils that have low runoff potential, and are not hydraulically connected to sediment/erosion-sensitive features. The following criteria also apply:

(a) Wet season clearing, grading, and other land disturbing activities may be approved provided an erosion and sediment control plan is prepared by a professional engineer that specifically identifies methods of erosion control for wet weather conditions to control erosion/sedimentation, surface water runoff, and safeguard slope stability. In a situation where erosion or sediment is not contained on site, construction activity shall cease immediately and notification of the development services director shall be made within 24 hours.

(b) When approval is issued in the dry season (defined as the months of May through September), and work is allowed to continue in the wet season, the city of Oak Harbor may require additional measures to limit erosion and sedimentation. The director or designee may prohibit land disturbing activities during certain days of the wet season. Determinations shall be made on a site-specific basis and evaluation of the following:

(i) Average existing slope on the site.

(ii) Quantity of proposed cut and/or fill.

(iii) Classification of the predominant soils and their erosion and runoff potential.

(iv) Hydraulic connection of the site to features that are sensitive to erosion impacts.

(v) Storm events and periods of heavy precipitation.

(c) If a clearing and grading approval is issued for work during the wet season and the director subsequently issues a “stop work” order or correction notice for insufficient erosion and sedimentation control, the approval will be suspended until the dry season, or until the director determines that weather conditions are favorable and effective erosion and sedimentation control is in place.

(d) Certain activities are exempted from seasonal restrictions (for a list of exemptions, see Stormwater Management Manual for Western Washington, Construction SWPPP, Vol. 2).

(12) Site-Specific Requirements. Additional, site-specific requirements may be established after a site visit by the city. These requirements shall be based on specific site conditions and are limited to additional temporary erosion and sedimentation control and the mitigation of hazardous or potentially hazardous conditions that pose a threat off site or to habitat preservation.

(13) Tree Retention. Clearing plans shall show tree retention areas and native vegetation retention areas and shall conform to all the requirements of Chapter 19.46 OHMC for protection during construction and development.

(14) Protection of Trees During Construction. Protection of trees during construction and development shall conform to the requirements of OHMC 19.46.140. (Ord. 1784 §§ 68, 69, 2016; Ord. 1616 § 1, 2011).

19.47.070 Performance bond or cash guarantee.

The city staff may require, as a condition to the granting of a permit, that the applicant furnish a performance bond or cash guarantee to the city to secure the applicant’s obligation, after the approved land clearing has been accomplished, to complete the restoration and replanting of the property in accordance with the terms of the permit and within the term thereof. The bond shall be in an amount equal to the estimated cost of such restoration and replanting, plus an additional 10 percent and with surety and conditions satisfactory to the city staff. (Ord. 1616 § 1, 2011; Ord. 1555 § 21, 2009).

19.47.080 Appeals.

Any person or persons aggrieved by any action of the city staff may within 15 days of such action file a written notice of appeal in accordance with Chapter 1.24 OHMC. (Ord. 1616 § 1, 2011; Ord. 1555 § 21, 2009).

19.47.090 Civil/criminal enforcement.

A violation of any of the provisions of this chapter shall be a misdemeanor and any person found guilty thereof shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $500.00 or replacement value, whichever is greater. It shall be a separate offense for each and every day or portion thereof during which any violation of any part of the provisions of this chapter is committed, continued or permitted. (Ord. 1616 § 1, 2011; Ord. 1555 § 21, 2009).

19.47.100 Injunctive enforcement.

Any violation of the provisions of this chapter is hereby declared to be a public nuisance and may be abated through proceedings for injunctive or similar relief in superior court or other court of competent jurisdiction. (Ord. 1616 § 1, 2011; Ord. 1555 § 21, 2009).

19.47.110 Severability.

If any section, paragraph, subsection, clause or phrase of this chapter is for any reason held to be unconstitutional or invalid by action of law, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this chapter. (Ord. 1616 § 1, 2011; Ord. 1555 § 21, 2009).

19.47.120 Permit fees.

After review and approval of the application a land clearing permit and minor clearing permit will be issued at a cost in accordance with the “City of Oak Harbor Comprehensive Permit and Fee List.” (Ord. 1616 § 1, 2011; Ord. 1555 § 21, 2009).

19.47.130 Compliance with state law.

All clearing shall be done in accordance with applicable state laws. (Ord. 1616 § 1, 2011; Ord. 1555 § 21, 2009).