Chapter 17.86
VARIANCES

Sections:

17.86.010    Purpose.

17.86.020    Scope.

17.86.030    Application submittal and contents.

17.86.040    Permit review process.

17.86.050    Approval criteria – Variances.

17.86.055    Approval criteria – Minor variances.

17.86.060    Alternative approval criteria – Restoration of historic structures.

17.86.065    Alternative approval criteria – Off-street parking and loading variances.

17.86.070    Additional conditions.

17.86.080    Limitation on authority.

17.86.090    Effective period.

17.86.100    Extension of time.

17.86.110    Assurance device.

17.86.010 Purpose.

To provide a mechanism whereby the city may grant relief from the provisions of this title where practical difficulty renders compliance with the provisions of this title an unnecessary hardship, where the hardship is a result of the physical characteristics of the subject property and where the purpose of this title and of the Port Townsend Comprehensive Plan can be fulfilled. (Ord. 2983 § 1, 2008; Ord. 2571 § 2, 1997).

17.86.020 Scope.

This chapter shall apply to each application for a variance from the provisions of this title. (Ord. 2983 § 1, 2008; Ord. 2571 § 2, 1997).

17.86.030 Application submittal and contents.

A. The application for a minor variance or a variance shall be submitted to DSD on forms provided by the department, along with the appropriate fees established by Chapter 20.09 PTMC. The application shall include all materials required pursuant to PTMC 20.01.100.

B. The director may waive specific submittal requirements determined to be unnecessary for review of an application. (Ord. 2983 § 1, 2008; Ord. 2892 § 1, 2005; Ord. 2571 § 2, 1997).

17.86.040 Permit review process.

A. Except as specified in subsection B of this section, variance applications shall be processed according to the procedures for Type III land use decisions established in Chapter 20.01 PTMC, Land Development Administrative Procedures.

B. Applications for minor variances as defined in Chapter 17.08 PTMC and listed in PTMC 17.86.055 shall be processed according to the procedures for Type II land use decisions established in Chapter 20.01 PTMC, Land Development Administrative Procedures. (Ord. 2983 § 1, 2008; Ord. 2571 § 2, 1997).

17.86.050 Approval criteria – Variances.

The decisionmaker may approve or approve with modifications an application for a variance from the provisions of this title if:

A. The variance will not constitute a grant of special privilege inconsistent with the limitation upon uses of other properties in the vicinity and zoning district in which the subject property is located; and

B. The variance is necessary because of special circumstances relating to the size, shape, topography, location or surroundings of the subject property, to provide it with use rights and privileges permitted to other properties in the vicinity and in the zoning district in which the subject property is located; and

C. The granting of the variance will not be materially detrimental to the public welfare or injurious to the property or improvements in the vicinity and zoning district in which the subject property is located; and

D. The special circumstances of the subject property make the strict enforcement of the provisions of this title an unnecessary hardship to the property owner; and

E. The special circumstances of the subject property are not the result of the actions of the applicant; and

F. The variance is the minimum necessary to fulfill the purpose and the need of the applicant; and

G. The variance is consistent with the purposes and intent of this title; and

H. The variance is consistent with the goals and policies of the Port Townsend Comprehensive Plan; and

I. The fact that property may be utilized more profitably will not be an element of consideration before the decisionmaker. (Ord. 2983 § 1, 2008; Ord. 2571 § 2, 1997).

17.86.055 Approval criteria – Minor variances.

The director of development services may grant a minor variance if it is shown that the proposal is consistent with the criteria in subsections A through F of this section:

A.  Does not detract from the desired character and nature of the vicinity in which it is proposed;

B. Is consistent with the existing land use pattern with regard to the standard being varied;

C. Does not interfere with or negatively impact the operations of existing land uses and all legally permitted uses within the zoning district it occupies;

D. Does not constitute a threat to the public health, safety and general welfare within the city;

E. Is minor in nature and would not constitute a grant of special privilege inconsistent with the limitation upon uses of other properties in the vicinity and zoning district in which the subject property is located;

F. Does not result in an increase in the allowable density available for the proposal prior to the application; and

G. For applications involving a minor variance from the minimum lot area for planned unit developments, the special circumstances of the subject property are not the result of the actions of:

1. The applicant; and/or

2. The prior owner(s) of the subject property if the special circumstances occurred less than a five-year period immediately preceding the date of the application for the minor variance. (Ord. 2983 § 1, 2008).

17.86.060 Alternative approval criteria – Restoration of historic structures.

In the case of a variance requested for the restoration of a historic building designated as pivotal, primary or secondary within the city, and in lieu of the approval criteria required under PTMC 17.86.050, the decisionmaker shall have the authority to grant the variance if a finding is made and it is concluded that the restoration relates to and is reasonably necessary to permit the addition or restoration of a previous condition of historical significance to the building, and that granting of the variance will not be materially detrimental to the public welfare nor injurious to the property or improvements in the vicinity and zoning district in which the subject property is situated. (Ord. 2571 § 2, 1997).

17.86.065 Alternative approval criteria – Off-street parking and loading variances.

A. Requests for Decreased Off-Street Parking. In the case of a variance requested to decrease the parking standards set forth in Chapter 17.72 PTMC, the decision-maker shall have the authority to grant the variance if the following findings are made:

1. Joint use parking opportunities have been fully explored;

2. A parking study has been provided that provides a basis for reduced parking and mitigation necessary to offset any negative effects; and

3. The site is served by transit or can be served within six months of occupancy.

B. Requests for Increased Off-Street Parking. In the case of a variance requested to increase the parking standards set forth in Chapter 17.72 PTMC, the decision-maker shall have the authority to grant the variance if the following findings are made:

1. Joint use parking opportunities have been fully explored;

2. A parking demand study has been submitted and accepted by the city that supports the need for increased parking;

3. The proposed variance does not result in the provision of off-street parking exceeding the maximum permissible space limitations set forth in Table 17.72.080 for a use located within the city’s historic overlay district, as defined in PTMC 17.30.040. (Ord. 2893 § 3, 2005).

17.86.070 Additional conditions.

In granting any variance, the decisionmaker may prescribe appropriate conditions and safeguards that will ensure that the purpose and intent of this title will not be violated. (Ord. 2571 § 2, 1997).

17.86.080 Limitation on authority.

The decisionmaker shall not grant a variance to:

A. The provisions of this title establishing allowed, conditional, and prohibited uses within the various zoning districts (i.e., PTMC 17.16.020, 17.18.020, 17.20.020, 17.22.020, and 17.24.020); or

B. The provisions of PTMC Title 20, or any other procedural or administrative provision of the Port Townsend Municipal Code; or

C. Any provisions of this title which, by the explicit terms of the applicable chapter, are not subject to a variance. (Ord. 2571 § 2, 1997).

17.86.090 Effective period.

A. A decision granting a variance does not become effective until the expiration of five days from the date of such decision, unless it is found that an immediate effective date is necessary for the preservation of property or personal rights.

B. A variance automatically expires and is void if the applicant fails to file for a building permit or other necessary development permit within three years of the effective date of the variance unless:

1. The applicant has received an extension for the variance pursuant to PTMC 17.86.100; or

2. The variance approval provides for a greater time period. (Ord. 2571 § 2, 1997).

17.86.100 Extension of time.

A. The director of the development services department may extend a variance, not to exceed one year, if:

1. Unforeseen circumstances or conditions necessitate the extension of the variance; and

2. Termination of the variance would result in unreasonable hardship to the applicant, and the applicant is not responsible for the delay; and

3. An extension of the variance will not cause substantial detriment to existing uses in the immediate vicinity of the subject property.

B. The director of the development services department may grant no more than two extensions. A second extension may be granted only if:

1. The criteria listed in subsection A of this section are met; and

2. The applicant has demonstrated reasonable diligence in attempting to meet the time limit imposed; and

3. Conditions in the immediate vicinity of the subject property have not changed substantially since the variance was first approved. (Ord. 2892 § 1, 2005; Ord. 2571 § 2, 1997).

17.86.110 Assurance device.

In appropriate circumstances, the director of the development services department may require a reasonable performance of maintenance assurance device, in a form acceptable to the city attorney, to assure compliance with the provisions of this title and the variance as approved. (Ord. 2892 § 1, 2005; Ord. 2571 § 2, 1997).