Chapter 12.20
STREET VACATION PROCEDURE

Sections:

12.20.010    Purpose.

12.20.020    Repealed.

12.20.030    Scope.

12.20.040    Administration.

12.20.045    Petition fees.

12.20.050    Development services department (DSD) recommendation.

12.20.060    Review criteria.

12.20.070    Legislative action.

12.20.080    Variances.

12.20.090    Compensation for vacation.

12.20.100    Appraisals.

12.20.110    Payment of compensation.

12.20.120    Recording ordinance.

12.20.130    Decision final.

12.20.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide uniform review criteria for the vacation of streets within the incorporated limits of the city, and to comply with the provisions set forth in Chapter 35.79 RCW. It is the intent of this chapter that all applicants for street or right-of-way vacations shall have the affirmative burden to prove to the city council that the proposed vacation is consistent with all criteria listed in this chapter for application review. Unless an applicant satisfies all criteria for approval of a street or right-of-way vacation, public rights-of-way of the city of Port Townsend shall be preserved for public use. (Ord. 2671 § 2, 1998; Ord. 2578 § 6, 1997; Ord. 1802 § 1, 1978).

12.20.020 Definitions.

Repealed by Ord. 2578. (Ord. 1802 § 2, 1978).

12.20.030 Scope.

This chapter shall apply to all petitions or requests for the vacation or abandonment of platted, deeded, dedicated, granted or otherwise conveyed public rights-of-way, including streets and alleys within the incorporated limits of the city. (Ord. 2671 § 3, 1998; Ord. 2578 § 6, 1997; Ord. 1802 § 3, 1978).

12.20.040 Administration.

A. Procedural Requirements. The DSD or public works director shall review all applications for street vacations to ensure that the application is filled out properly and completely, and shall not accept application and/or application fees for deficient applications. The DSD director shall be responsible for the procedural requirements set forth in Chapter 35.79 RCW, including the setting of public hearings, posting of notices, publishing of legal notices and similar matters.

B. The DSD director shall coordinate the routing of the street vacation application to ensure that all pertinent offices have submitted recommendations.

C. The public works director shall review applications to determine whether the proposed vacation will complement or impede the overall area traffic circulation and be consistent with the orderly expansion and maintenance of the city transportation system, the city wastewater systems, the city water system and the city stormwater system.

D. City Police Department. The police department shall review applications to determine whether the proposed vacation will hinder the efficient delivery of police protection for the area in which the street is to be vacated.

E. City Fire Department. The fire department shall review applications to determine whether the proposed vacation will hinder the efficient delivery of fire protection for the area in which the street is to be vacated.

F. Emergency Medical Services. Purveyors of emergency medical service shall review applications to determine whether the proposed vacation will hinder the efficient delivery of emergency services to the area in which the street is to be vacated.

 G. Other Public Services. In such cases as the DSD director may deem appropriate, the city shall seek comments and recommendations from public transportation (transit) service providers, the U.S. Postal Service, private utility providers, and the city’s solid waste utility manager.

H. City Development Services Department. The city DSD shall review applications for conformance with the goals and policies contained in the city comprehensive plan and other adopted city plans and the review criteria contained in this chapter. (Ord. 2892 § 1, 2005; Ord. 2671 § 4, 1998; Ord. 2578 § 6, 1997; Ord. 2256 § 1, 1991; Ord. 1992 § 1, 1984; Ord. 1802 § 4, 1978).

12.20.045 Petition fees.

Every petition for the vacation of any street, alley or public place, or any part thereof, shall be accompanied by a payment to the city of a fee in the amount otherwise established by ordinance of the city, to defray the costs of processing such vacation petitions and such fee shall not be refunded under any circumstances. In addition, at the time the city council, or a committee thereof, recommends granting a vacation petition, an additional fee in the amount of $750.00 shall be paid to cover appraisal costs for a street, alley or public place. In the event an appraisal cost is less than the payment therefor, the vacation compensation payable to the city shall be reduced by the difference between the fee and the actual cost or, in the alternative, such difference shall be refunded. (Ord. 2578 § 6, 1997; Ord. 2440 § 2, 1995; Ord. 1992 § 2, 1984).

12.20.050 Development services department (DSD) recommendation.

Before the city council takes action on street vacation applications, the city development services department shall submit a recommendation to the city council, which shall include the information set forth in PTMC 12.20.040 and the application of the criteria for street or alley vacations set forth in PTMC 12.20.060. (Ord. 2892 § 1, 2005; Ord. 2578 § 6, 1997; Ord. 2440 § 3, 1995; Ord. 2256 § 2, 1991).

12.20.060 Review criteria.

An application seeking the complete or partial vacation of a street, right-of-way or alley may be approved by the city council only upon an applicant demonstrating, to the satisfaction of the city council, compliance with all of the following criteria, measured both in terms of present and potential public need for the street, right-of-way, or alley:

A. That the proposed vacation of a street, right-of-way or alley is in compliance with the city’s engineering design standards manual and the goals and policies of the city comprehensive plan and other adopted city plans, as shown on the list maintained by the development services department, including but not limited to the following “functional” or “subarea” plans, as now adopted and hereafter adopted, revised or amended:

1. Repealed by Ord. 2945;

2. Shoreline Master Program;

3. Gateway Plan;

4. Nonmotorized Transportation Plan;

5. Stormwater Plan;

6. Water System Plan;

7. Parks and Recreation Plan; and

B. That the proposed vacated street, right-of-way or alley is not required for current or anticipated overall area motor vehicle circulation; and

C. That the current and anticipated future effectiveness of fire, law enforcement, medical or other emergency services will not be unduly impaired by the vacation of the street, right-of-way or alley; and

D. That the current and anticipated future needs for public transportation service (transit), mail delivery, private utility service delivery, solid waste collection service and other public service delivery will not be unduly impaired by the vacation of the street, right-of-way or alley; and

E. That the proposed vacated street, right-of-way or alley is not required as a current or anticipated utility corridor (suitable water, sewer, storm sewer and other easements may be required to satisfy this criterion. The dimensions of the easement shall conform with the city’s adopted engineering design standards); and

F. That the proposed vacated street, right-of-way or alley is not required as a current or anticipated bicycle, pedestrian or equestrian pathway, trail or sidewalk corridor (suitable trail easements may be required to satisfy this criterion. The dimensions of the easement shall conform with the city’s adopted engineering design standards); and

G. That the proposed vacation will not increase the potential for disturbance of an environmentally sensitive area (ESA), as defined by Chapter 19.05 PTMC, including ESAs situated within and outside of the street, right-of-way or alley proposed for vacation; and

H. That, in the case of the proposed vacation of any portion of a street or alley which abuts a body of fresh or salt water, the proposed vacation meets the criteria and has been reviewed and approved in accordance with RCW 35.79.035, as now or hereafter amended. (Ord. 2945 § 2.1, 2007; Ord. 2892 § 1, 2005; Ord. 2671 § 5, 1998; Ord. 2578 § 6, 1997; Ord. 2256 § 3, 1991).

12.20.070 Legislative action.

The city council, upon receipt of a street vacation application, shall fix a time, by formal resolution, of not more than 60 days and not fewer than 20 days from the date of said resolution, when a public hearing will be held. The city council, on the date of the public hearing, shall review the recommendation of the DSD and all other testimony in support of, or opposition to, the proposed street vacation. The city council shall make a decision to grant or deny petitions for street vacations by ordinance; provided, that such ordinance may retain an easement or the right to exercise and grant easements over vacated property; and provided, further, that the proposed street to be vacated, or part thereof, does not abut on a body of salt or fresh water, unless such vacation meets the requirements set forth in RCW 35.79.035, as now or hereafter amended. (Ord. 2892 § 1, 2005; Ord. 2578 § 6, 1997; Ord. 2256 § 4, 1991).

12.20.080 Variances.

A. Variance Request. Variances from the review criteria set forth in PTMC 12.20.060 may be permitted under certain circumstances; provided, that a variance request is submitted in writing and attached to the street vacation application.

B. Findings. The city council shall only grant a variance if it makes the following findings on variance requests:

1. That there exist extraordinary conditions or unusual circumstances peculiar to the property or structure thereon, not the result of the action of the applicant; and

2. That the literal enforcement of the review criteria would result in undue and unnecessary hardship; and

3. That justice could be done and the public interest secured by the granting of a suitable variance.

C. City Council Action. In granting variances, the city council may require such conditions as will, in its judgment, secure substantially the objectives of the review criteria so varied. (Ord. 2578 § 6, 1997; Ord. 2256 § 5, 1991; Ord. 1802 § 7, 1978).

12.20.090 Compensation for vacation.

A. All ordinances vacating any street, right-of-way or alley, or any part thereof, shall provide that the same shall not become effective until the owners of property abutting upon the street, right-of-way or alley, or part thereof, so vacated, pay to the city one-half of the appraised value of the area so vacated, or the full appraised value of the area vacated if the street or alley has been part of a dedicated public right-of-way for 25 years or more, or the full appraisal value if the city acquired the right-of-way other than by dedication; provided, however, that in lieu of payment of appraised value, the city council, in its discretion, may authorize and accept dedication or conveyance of real property to the city in exchange for the vacated street, right-of-way or alley. In the event the city council accepts such property exchange, the exchanged properties shall be for use by the city for transportation, (motorized and nonmotorized) circulation, utility and/or stormwater retention and control purposes. Frequently flooded areas, wetland areas, natural drainage corridors, and areas which may serve local or regional stormwater control purposes are considered properties having stormwater retention and control purposes.

B. In considering and approving applications proposing a property exchange as compensation in lieu of appraised value, the city council may waive the requirement that the applicant obtain an appraisal; provided, that qualified public works personnel (as defined in PTMC 12.20.100) provide a written determination that the value of property received will be equal to or greater than the value of the right-of-way vacated. In cases where this determination is not made at the time the city council considers the application, the city council’s decision approving a street, right-of-way or alley vacation application shall be conditioned upon this determination. The “value received” may include intangible values or benefits received by the city through implementation of comprehensive plan goals and policies (including goals and policies of the city’s “functional” and “subarea” plans) and provision of other public health, safety and welfare benefits to the city.

C. One hundred percent of the revenue received by the city as compensation for the area vacated must be dedicated to a reserved transportation system improvement account for the purchase of rights-of-way or transportation facility easements within the city. (Ord. 2776 § 1, 2001; Ord. 2671 § 6, 1998; Ord. 2578 § 6, 1997; Ord. 1992 § 3, 1984).

12.20.100 Appraisals.

A. Except as provided in PTMC 12.20.090 (B), the public works director is authorized to obtain or require the applicant to obtain an appraisal from a qualified, independent appraiser. The appraiser shall appraise the fair market value pursuant to customary industry standards for real property appraisals of such streets, rights-of-way or alleys as are approved for vacation after hearing by the city council. All applicants shall be required to pay the full cost of an independent, qualified appraisal prior to the city council adopting an ordinance formally vacating the street or right-of-way.

 B. Under circumstances provided in PTMC 12.20.090(B), qualified public works department personnel may be used to make the required appraisals without cost to the applicant. For the purposes of this section, “qualified public works department personnel” means employee(s) or contractors of the public works department who have work experience as professional appraisers or adequate experience in real estate transactions in the local real estate market to enable the public works employee(s) to make a reliable, independent and well-informed determination of comparable market values of real property. Under circumstances as provided in PTMC 12.20.090 (B), the finance director shall provide written approval of all appraisals conducted by qualified public works department personnel. (Ord. 2671 § 7, 1998; Ord. 2578 § 6, 1997; Ord. 1992 § 3, 1984).

12.20.110 Payment of compensation.

Upon securing an appraisal of the value of the street, right-of-way or alley area to be vacated as provided in this chapter, the development services department (DSD) director shall notify the petitioner that payment of such appraised value, deducting therefrom any appraisal fee coverage not previously refunded to petitioner, may be made to the finance director for deposit in the appropriate fund or funds, as directed by the city council. The finance director shall make a written report of such payment to the DSD director. (Ord. 2892 § 1, 2005; Ord. 2671 § 8, 1998; Ord. 2578 § 6, 1997; Ord. 1992 § 3, 1984).

12.20.120 Recording ordinance.

As required by law, a certified copy of the ordinance vacating a street, alley or public place, or part thereof, shall be recorded by the city clerk in the office of the Jefferson County auditor, upon receipt by the city of all fees and compensation required hereunder. (Ord. 2578 § 6, 1997; Ord. 1992 § 3, 1984).

12.20.130 Decision final.

Any decision, finding, ruling, order or determination of the city council made pursuant to street vacations provided for in this chapter shall be final on the effective date of an ordinance giving effect thereto, and no action to set aside or modify the same shall be brought in the superior court or other tribunal unless the action shall be filed within 30 days from the effective date of such decision, finding, ruling, order or determination. (Ord. 2578 § 6, 1997; Ord. 2206 § 4, 1990; Ord. 1990 § 4, 1984; Ord. 1802 § 7.20, 1978).