Chapter 18A.05
INTRODUCTION Revised 12/18 Revised 6/19

Sections:

18A.05.010    Title.

18A.05.020    Purpose.

18A.05.025    Applicability and Exemptions. Revised 12/18

18A.05.030    Interpretation and Application of Title. Revised 12/18

18A.05.035    Coordination with Other Titles. Revised 6/19

18A.05.040    Interpretation of Boundaries.

18A.05.050    Interpretation of Uses and Use Tables. Revised 6/19

18A.05.060    Recognition of Previously Granted Permits and Approvals.

18A.05.070    Use Allowances.

18A.05.090    Legal Lot Requirements.

18A.05.110    Definitions.

18A.05.120    Severability.

18A.05.010 Title.

Title 18A shall be officially cited as the Pierce County Development Regulations – Zoning. Title 18A may also be known as the Pierce County Development Regulations – Zoning or the Pierce County Zoning Code. (Ord. 95-79S § 2 (part), 1995)

18A.05.020 Purpose.

A.    Uncoordinated and unplanned growth poses a threat to the environment, sustainable economic development, and the health, safety, and quality of life enjoyed by the residents of Pierce County. The major purpose of the Pierce County Development Regulations – Zoning is to implement the Pierce County Comprehensive Plan which is intended to prevent the harm posed by uncoordinated and unplanned growth. These Development Regulations – Zoning are not intended to be the sole method of implementing the Comprehensive Plan. Other methods such as subdivision regulations, taxing strategies, capital facility expenditures, and other implementation techniques will also be employed.

B.    Additional purposes of the Pierce County Development Regulations – Zoning, include:

1.    To prevent harm to the public health, safety, and general welfare through regulation of land development of Pierce County;

2.    To provide guidance for the future development of Pierce County so development may occur in an orderly and predictable fashion;

3.    To provide for adequate public facilities and services in an orderly and timely fashion that will support land development;

4.    To protect public and private investments within Pierce County;

5.    To promote social and economic well-being through integration of aesthetic, environmental, and economic values;

6.    To protect the property values and property rights of property owners in Pierce County;

7.    To protect and conserve environmentally critical or historically significant resources;

8.    To identify and designate adequate land areas needed to accommodate agricultural, forestry, commercial, industrial, residential, and other land uses necessary to protect and provide for the public welfare;

9.    To provide procedures and processes that foster the efficient and effective administration and enforcement of these regulations.

(Ord. 95-79S § 2 (part), 1995)

18A.05.025 Applicability and Exemptions. Revised 12/18

A.    Applicability. This Title shall apply to all land use in Pierce County unless specifically exempted. Applicability extends to expansions of existing uses and new uses, including changes of use in existing buildings and structures.

B.    Exempt Uses. The provisions of this Title shall not apply to the establishment, modification, or repair of the following uses and facilities:

1.    On-site and community septic systems;

2.    Stormwater conveyance systems which include features such as gutters, pipelines, culverts, manholes, weirs, man-made and natural channels, water quality filtration systems, bioretention ponds, rain gardens, and drywells;

3.    Electrical distribution lines and poles (55 kilovolts and under) (not including antennae, cellular transmission towers or modifications to increase the height of a utility pole to accommodate a wireless antennae – see Utilities Use Category);

4.    Sewerage and water conveyance systems which include underground or flush-with-the-ground features including, but not limited, to pipes and manholes;

5.    Water, oil, and petroleum gas distribution pipelines;

6.    Natural gas distribution lines (as opposed to transmission lines) and necessary appurtenant facilities and hookups;

7.    Cable, fiber optic, or telephone transmission and distribution lines, poles, and appurtenances (not including antennae, cellular transmission towers or modifications to increase the height of a utility tower to accommodate a wireless antennae – see Utilities Use Category);

8.    Streets and linear trails when located in existing rights-of-way; and

9.    Electric vehicle battery charging stations.

C.    Special Exemptions.

1.    Primary and secondary educational facilities, i.e., kindergarten, elementary, intermediate, middle and junior high schools, and high schools, shall be permitted to place or construct a maximum of 5,000 square feet of building coverage on a facility site in any one calendar year, with a cap of 10,000 square feet of building coverage allowed per facility site without approval of the appropriate Administrative or Conditional Use Permit. Primary and secondary schools shall not be subject to the one-time expansion restrictions of PCC 18A.05.060. Any installation of outdoor lighting in currently unlit portions of school grounds shall require the appropriate use permit as specified in the Use Tables contained within this Title.

(Ord. 2018-68s § 3 (part), 2018; Ord. 2012-2s § 5 (part), 2012)

18A.05.030 Interpretation and Application of Title. Revised 12/18

A.    These Development Regulations – Zoning shall be consistent with and implement the Pierce County Comprehensive Plan. Any conflict between provisions of this Title and the Comprehensive Plan, Title 19A, shall be resolved by applying the provisions of 19A (The Plan).

B.    The provisions of this Title which are consistent with and implement the Comprehensive Plan shall be minimum requirements adopted for the promotion of the public health, safety, and general welfare.

C.    The provisions of this Title shall control when they establish more protective restrictions than are established by other applicable County, regional, state, and federal regulations. Note: All development activities done below the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM) are regulated by Shoreline Management Use Regulations.

D.    The provisions of other applicable County, regional, state and federal regulations shall control when they establish more protective restrictions than are established in this Title; provided such regulations are consistent with and implement the County's Comprehensive Plan.

E.    When a provision in this Title conflicts with another provision in this Title, the more protective restriction shall control.

F.    In case of any ambiguity or difference of meaning or inconsistencies between the text and any illustrations or other graphics, the text throughout this Title and the permitted Use Tables shall control.

G.    Unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, words in the present tense can include the future tense, and words in the singular can include the plural, or vice versa. Except for words and terms defined in Chapter 18.25, all words and terms used in this Title shall have their customary meanings.

H.    The word "shall" is mandatory and not discretionary. The words "may" or "should" are permissive and discretionary.

I.    Title 18A is not intended to interfere with, revoke or invalidate any lawful land use easement or covenant.

J.    Title Numbering Scheme. The numbering scheme used in this Title operates as shown below:

18

05

010

A.1.a.(1)(a)

Subsections and Paragraphs

Title of Pierce

County Code

Chapter of Title

Section of Chapter

(Ord. 2017-89s § 2 (part), 2018; Ord. 2012-2s § 5 (part), 2012; Ord. 2004-58s § 2 (part), 2004; Ord. 2004-52s § 3 (part), 2004; Ord. 95-79S § 2 (part), 1995)

18A.05.035 Coordination with Other Titles. Revised 6/19

Administration of this Title shall be coordinated with the provisions of the following Pierce County Code (PCC) Titles when applicable:

A.    Title 1, General Provisions.

1.    Public Hearing. A public hearing required pursuant to this Title shall follow the procedures set forth in Chapter 1.22 PCC.

2.    Reconsideration and Appeal Procedures. Procedures for appeal of any administrative decision and procedures for reconsideration or appeal of a Hearing Examiner decision issued pursuant to this Title are set forth in Chapter 1.22 PCC.

B.    Title 2, Administration.

1.    Fees. Fees for applications filed pursuant to this Title are set forth in Chapter 2.05 PCC.

C.    Construction and Infrastructure Regulations.

1.    Title 17A, Site Development and Stormwater.

2.    Title 17B, Road, Bridge Design and Construction.

3.    Title 17C, Building and Fire Codes.

D.    Development Regulations.

1.    Title 18, General Provisions.

a.    Definitions. Except for words and terms defined in this Title and in Chapter 18.25 PCC, all words and terms used in this Title shall have their customary meanings.

b.    Preliminary Review. The provisions for conducting a preliminary review of a proposed application are set forth in Chapter 18.40 PCC.

c.    Application Filing. Applications filed pursuant to this Title shall be reviewed for completeness in accordance with Department submittal standards checklists and pursuant to Chapter 18.40 PCC.

d.    Public Notice. Public notice provisions for notice of application, environmental action, if applicable, and final decision pursuant to this Title are outlined in Chapter 18.80 PCC.

e.    Review. The Department shall review applications in accordance with the provisions outlined in Chapter 18.60 PCC.

f.    Time Period for Final Decision. The provisions for issuing a notice of final decision on any application filed pursuant to this Title are set forth in Chapter 18.100 PCC.

g.    Compliance. The regulations for compliance with the provisions of this Title are set forth in Chapter 18.140 PCC.

2.    Title 18B, Signs and Billboards.

3.    Title 18C, Site Development.

4.    Title 18D, Environmental (SEPA).

5.    Title 18E, Critical Areas.

6.    Title 18F, Land Divisions and Boundary Changes.

7.    Title 18H, Forest Practices.

8.    Title 18I, Natural Resource Lands.

9.    Title 18J, Design Standards and Guidelines.

10.    Title 18S, Development Policies and Regulations – Shorelines.

E.    Title 19A – Comprehensive Plan.

(Ord. 2013-45s4 § 3 (part), 2015; Ord. 2012-2s § 5 (part), 2012)

18A.05.040 Interpretation of Boundaries.

A.    When interpreting a zone classification boundary, the following rules shall apply:

1.    Where zoning or urban growth boundaries are indicated as following the centerline of streets, alleys, railroad rights-of-way, or highways, the right-of-way centerline shall be the boundary.

2.    Where zoning or urban growth boundaries are indicated as following lot or tract lines, the lot or tract lines shall be the boundary.

3.    Unmapped shorelands shall be considered to be within the same zoning classification or urban growth area designation as the adjacent upland.

4.    Where a public street or alley is officially vacated or abandoned, the zone classification applicable to the property abutting the vacated portion shall apply to the vacated or abandoned street or alley.

5.    Split Parcels.

a.    Where the County Council, as part of an Ordinance approving Comprehensive Plan Amendments, a Community Plan, or associated implementing regulations, approves zoning that divides a parcel, the parcel shall be so divided, PROVIDED, such zoning boundaries are shown on the approved map and the fact that the parcel is split by zoning is acknowledged in the findings of fact of the Ordinance.

b.    Where zoning or urban growth boundaries divide a parcel as a result of other Pierce County Council action, the entire parcel shall be considered to be within the classification of the majority of the parcel; i.e., the portion which is greater than 50 percent of the lot area.

c.    Where said boundaries are established by a road or railroad right-of-way, the center of the road right-of-way or railroad line will act as a boundary line between the zone classifications.

6.    Where these rules do not clarify a boundary issue, the Director shall make the determination. The Director's determination in these instances may be appealable according to PCC 18A.85.050 and Chapter 1.22 PCC.

(Ord. 2012-2s § 5 (part), 2012)

18A.05.050 Interpretation of Uses and Use Tables. Revised 6/19

A.    Use Tables are provided for urban and rural and resource zoning classifications, respectively. Zoning classifications are shown across the horizontal axis, and use category and type are shown down the vertical axis.

1.    Use Categories, Types, and Levels. Uses are grouped into eight major categories: residential, civic, utilities, essential public facilities, office/business, commercial, industrial, and resource. Each use category includes a number of use types. Each use type may contain one or more level. Each level indicates uses based on intensity or characteristics of the use. These use categories, types, and levels are shown on the Use Table. For a description of use categories, types, and levels see PCC 18A.33.200 to 18A.33.280.

a.    Typical Uses within Use Types. The description of the use types and associated levels in this Chapter contain examples of usual and customary uses. These uses are intended to be typical and are not intended to represent all possible uses.

b.    Organization of Uses. In PCC 18A.33.200 through 18A.33.280, uses are organized into use categories, use types and levels which represent typical uses.

Example:

Commercial Use Category

Lodging Use Type

Level 2 – Lodging House.

2.    Symbols. The following symbols are employed in the Use Tables:

a.    A blank cell on the Table indicates that the use type is prohibited in the zone listed at the top of the column.

b.    A "P" in a cell on the Table indicates that the use type is permitted outright in the zone listed at the top of the column.

c.    A "C" in a cell on the Table indicates that the use type is permitted subject to the Conditional Use provisions specified in PCC 18A.75.030, Conditional Use Permit.

d.    An "A" in a cell on the Table indicates that the use type is permitted subject to administrative review under the provision specified in PCC 18A.75.020, Administrative Use Permit.

e.    A number accompanying a "P", "C", or "A" in a cell refers to the level of the use type allowed in the zone listed at the top of the column. If a letter is not accompanied by a number, all levels of that use type are permitted subject to appropriate review. The description of levels for each use type is contained in PCC 18A.33.200 through 18A.33.280.

f.    All symbols used in the Use Tables, including superscripts and parenthetical footnotes, are explained in a footer Table at the bottom of every page for every Use Table.

3.    Interpretation by Director. Where there is a question regarding the inclusion or exclusion of a particular proposed use within a particular use category, use type, or use type level, the Director shall have the authority to make the final determination. The Director's determination in these instances may be appealable according to PCC 18A.85.050. The Director shall prepare an annual report for the County Council regarding such interpretations and shall offer recommendations on necessary amendments to this Chapter or Title.

4.    Water Dependent Uses. Water dependent uses, to include associated incidental and necessary uses, that are located within shoreline jurisdiction and regulated by Title 18S PCC, Development Policies and Regulations – Shorelines, shall not be regulated by the Use Tables of this Title. A water dependent use is a use which cannot exist in a location that is not adjacent to the water and which is dependent on the water by reason of the intrinsic nature of its operations.

(Ord. 2016-33 § 1 (part), 2016; Ord. 2016-24s2 § 1 (part), 2016; Ord. 2015-86 § 1 (part), 2015; Ord. 2015-40 § 4 (part), 2015; Ord. 2013-45s4 § 3 (part), 2015; Ord. 2014-42 § 2 (part), 2014; Ord. 2012-2s § 5 (part), 2012)

18A.05.060 Recognition of Previously Granted Permits and Approvals.

A.    Public Facility Uses Established by Use Permit. Any previously granted permit or approval that established a legally existing public facility use and/or activity which existed prior to the effective date of these regulations is hereby acknowledged by these provisions. As long as these legally existing public facility uses are not now prohibited in the zone classifications in which they are found, they are recognized. These legally existing public facilities include those authorized under one of the following procedures: Judicial Order, Unclassified Use Permit, Conditional Use Permit, Nonconforming Use Permit, Planned Development District, Approved Site Plan, Recorded Memorandum of Agreement, Site Plan Review (SPR), or Administrative Site Plan Review (ASPR).

The permits or approvals and attached conditions that authorize each of these legally existing public facilities are hereby defined as Public Facility Permits under these regulations, subject to any specific conditions previously imposed. To the extent practical, multiple existing permits issued for an individual facility shall be consolidated.

Existing state and federal permits including, but not limited to, Federal Mining Permits and Leases, Surface Mine Permits (SM), National Pollution Discharge Elimination Permits (NPDES), and Solid Waste Permits may be used as evidence to prove the legal existence of an existing Public Facility. The Department of Planning and Public Works shall maintain a list of these legally existing Public Facilities as submitted and documented by the affected departments.

B.    Uses Previously Established. Any previously granted permit or approval that established a legally existing use and/or activity, which existed prior to the effective date of these regulations, is hereby acknowledged as follows:

How was the use allowed prior to change in regulation?

How is the use allowed after a change in regulation?

Status of Use

Use Permit

Prohibited

Use is nonconforming with specific conditions. The use is still controlled by conditions of approval. Minor changes are not considered nonconforming, however, major changes are subject to nonconforming standards and original conditions.

Outright

Use still subject to original approval until said approval is relinquished.

Use Permit

Original use permit still governs the use. Expansions are subject to amendment criteria. If use now requires a different type of use permit, a new application is not necessary unless a major amendment is proposed. See note (1)

Outright

Prohibited

Use is nonconforming and subject to nonconforming standards.

Outright

Use is permitted and subject to all applicable development standards.

Use Permit

Use is not nonconforming. For uses requiring an Administrative, Conditional Use or Public Facilities Permit, a one-time expansion of a structure shall be allowed on the occupied parcel if it does not exceed 25 percent of the floor area of the structure, and is not more than 2,500 square feet; provided the one-time expansion, as determined by the Director, does not outwardly increase noise, glare, or dust or alter the hours of operation. Any expansion in excess of the above-referenced standards shall require the appropriate permit. For other Use Permits, any further expansion will require the necessary permit.

Nonconforming

Prohibited

Use is still nonconforming.

Outright

Use is now permitted and subject to all applicable development standards.

Use Permit

Any further expansion will require the necessary permit. This use is not nonconforming.

(1)    Master Planned Communities (MPC) previously approved by a Planned Development District (PDD) shall continue to be processed as a PDD and are not subject to provisions in 18A.75.080, Planned Unit Developments. All proposed amendments shall be subject to provisions of Chapter 18.130 PCC, Amendments.

(Ord. 2017-12s § 2 (part), 2017; Ord. 2013-85 § 1 (part), 2013; Ord. 2013-30s2 § 5 (part), 2013; Ord. 2012-2s § 5 (part), 2012)

18A.05.070 Use Allowances.

A.    Principal Uses. Principal use means the primary or predominant use of any lot or parcel. Principal or main building means a building devoted to the principal use of the lot on which it is situated. The use of a property is defined by the activity for which the building or lot is intended, designed, arranged, occupied, or maintained. A property may have uses that fall into one or more use categories or use types. When more than one use category or use type or level applies to one property, each use shall be classified separately.

B.    Accessory Uses. Accessory uses are described and regulated in Chapter 18A.36 PCC, Accessory Development. Accessory uses specific to a use category are described in the use category description.

C.    Temporary Uses. Temporary uses are described and regulated in Chapter 18A.38 PCC, Temporary Development.

D.    Number of Uses Permitted. In all regulatory zones there shall be no limit as to the number of principal uses allowed on a lot, provided:

1.    Each principal use is permitted in the zone classification;

2.    Each principal use meets all pertinent regulatory requirements; and

3.    No more than one single-family detached dwelling unit or one two-family dwelling unit shall be permitted as a principal use on any individual lot, except as specifically provided in Chapter 18A.38 PCC, Temporary Development, PCC 18A.37.120, Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), PCC 18J.15.200, Mobile Home Parks, and PCC 18A.75.050, Planned Development Districts (PDDs).

(Ord. 2016-33 § 2 (part), 2016; Ord. 2016-14s § 2 (part), 2016; Ord. 2014-42 § 2 (part), 2014; Ord. 2013-85 § 1 (part), 2013; Ord. 2013-30s2 § 5 (part), 2013; Ord. 2012-2s § 5 (part), 2012)

18A.05.090 Legal Lot Requirements.

A.    Proof of Legal Lot.

1.    Development shall be permitted only on legally created lots.

2.    To establish that a lot has been legally created, the applicant must provide one of the following:

a.    A copy of formal plat, short plat, or large lot subdivision approved by Pierce County, separately describing the lot.

b.    A copy of the boundary line adjustment or lot combination separately describing the lot.

c.    Documentation that the creation of the lot was exempt from the provisions of the Pierce County Subdivision Regulation.

d.    A deed, contract of sale, mortgage, recorded survey, or Pierce County Assessor tax segregation executed prior to August 13, 1974, that separately describes the lot.

B.    Testamentary Lots. A building permit may be issued for a lot created after September 1, 2006, by testamentary provisions or the laws of descent pursuant to PCC 18F.10.060 A.5. only if one or more of the following criteria are met:

1.    The lot met the minimum lot size requirement in effect at the time of death of the owner of the property being divided by testamentary provisions;

2.    The lot complies with the minimum lot size requirement in effect at the time of building permit application; or

3.    The lot is at least two and one-half acres in size and was created from a parcel that was held in continuous ownership by the decedent since at least December 31, 1994.

(Ord. 2014-42 § 2 (part), 2014; Ord. 2012-2s § 5 (part), 2012)

18A.05.110 Definitions.

See Chapter 18.25 PCC for a list of defined terms. For terms used in this Title not defined in Chapter 18.25 PCC, the usual and customary meaning shall apply. (Ord. 2012-2s § 5 (part), 2012)

18A.05.120 Severability.

If any Section, portion, Chapter, paragraph, clause, or phrase of these regulations is held to be unconstitutional or invalid for any reason, such unconstitutionality or invalidity shall not affect the validity or constitutionality of the remaining portions of this Title. (Ord. 2012-2s § 5 (part), 2012)