Chapter 18.04


18.04.010    Short title.

18.04.020    General authority.

18.04.030    Purpose.

18.04.040    Scope – Exemptions.

18.04.050    Undefined words and phrases.

18.04.060    Definitions.

18.04.070    Violation – Penalties.

18.04.010 Short title.

The ordinance codified in this title, together with any amendments, shall be known as the “Port Townsend Land Division Ordinance.” (Ord. 2572 § 2, 1997).

18.04.020 General authority.

The ordinance codified in this title is adopted under the authority of Chapters 35A.58 and 58.17 RCW. (Ord. 2572 § 2, 1997).

18.04.030 Purpose.

The purpose of this title is to regulate the division of land lying within the corporate limits of the city of Port Townsend, and to promote the public health, safety, and general welfare in accordance with the standards established by the state of Washington and the city, and to:

A. Prevent the overcrowding of land;

B. Lessen congestion and promote safe and convenient travel by the public on sidewalks, pathways, streets and highways;

C. Promote the efficient use of land;

D. Facilitate adequate provision for water, sewage, drainage, streets, schools, parks, recreational areas, and other public requirements with consistent engineering design standards that balance the initial capital costs of improvements with long-term operation and maintenance costs;

E. Require uniform monumenting of land divisions and conveyance of lots, tracts and parcels by accurate legal description;

F. Facilitate the development of affordable housing in Port Townsend through the adoption of clear, predictable and uniformly applied land development regulations and through the expeditious processing of land development applications; and

G. Implement the goals, objectives and policies of the Washington Growth Management Act and the Port Townsend Comprehensive Plan. (Ord. 2572 § 2, 1997).

18.04.040 Scope – Exemptions.

A. This title applies to the division of land of up to nine parcels for short subdivisions, and of 10 or more parcels for full subdivisions. This title further applies to boundary line adjustments and binding site plan review and regulation.

B. Development of, and construction upon, lots of record established through the subdivision process before the enactment of the Platting and Subdivision Act of 1937, Chapter 58.16 RCW, may occur only under the specific provisions set forth in this title, Chapter 18.18 PTMC. However, notwithstanding PTMC 18.04.070, this title shall not be construed to prohibit the transfer, purchase or sale of platted lots of record as defined in PTMC 18.04.060.

C. Property boundary lines separating two or more lots of record may be adjusted only under the specific provisions as set forth in this title.

D. The process for resubdivision, alteration and vacation of any existing subdivision is identical to the process for initial subdivision. All such subdivision applications shall conform with the pertinent sections in this title governing the subdivision of property into lots, tracts or parcels. All proposed plat vacations shall comply with the requirements and criteria set forth in RCW 58.17.212, as now adopted or hereafter amended.

E. Where this title imposes greater restrictions or higher standards upon the development of land than other laws, ordinances or restrictive covenants, the provisions of this title shall prevail.

F. This title does not apply to the following:

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

2. Divisions of land made by testamentary provisions or the laws of descent;

3. Divisions of land relating to the acquisition of land by public agencies, including, but not limited to, divisions made for road or public right-of-way conveyance or widening purposes. (Ord. 2572 § 2, 1997).

18.04.050 Undefined words and phrases.

The definition of any word or phrase not listed in the definitions which is in question when administering this title shall be defined from one of the following sources. Said sources shall be utilized by finding the desired definition from source number one, but if it is not available there, then source number two may be used and so on. The sources are as follows:

A. Any city of Port Townsend resolution, ordinance, code, regulation or formally adopted comprehensive plan, shoreline master plan or program or other formally adopted land use plan;

B. Any statute or regulation of the state of Washington;

C. Legal definitions from Washington common law or a law dictionary;

D. The common dictionary. (Ord. 2572 § 2, 1997).

18.04.060 Definitions.

For the purpose of this title, certain words and terms used in this title are defined as follows:

“Accumulative short subdivision” means multiple short subdivision of contiguous land under common ownership. Ownership for purposes of this section means ownership as established at the date of the initial short subdivision approval. Ownership by persons related by blood or marriage where an inter-family land conveyance has occurred within two years of making application for short subdivision approval shall be construed to be common ownership.

“Alley” means a public thoroughfare or right-of-way which affords only a secondary means of access to abutting property.

“Applicant” means the owner or owners of record of the property subject to an application for land division or lot line adjustment, or authorized representative of such owner or owners.

“Application” means all of the application forms, plans and accompanying documents required for any particular land division or lot line adjustment request.

“Binding site plan” means a drawing to appropriate scale which: (a) identifies and shows the areas and locations of all streets, roads, improvements, utilities, open spaces, and any other matters specified by local regulations; (b) contains inscriptions or attachments setting forth such appropriate limitations and conditions for the use of the land as are established by the city of Port Townsend; and (c) contains provisions requiring that any development be in conformity with the site plan.

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

“Boundary line adjustment” shall have the same meaning as “lot line adjustment,” meaning the relocation or other minor adjustment of the boundaries of a lot, in which the relocation does not result in the creation of any additional lot or lots.

“Building envelope” refers to the buildable area of a lot after applicable setbacks, easements and other restrictions on the lot are taken into account.

“CC&Rs” means covenants, conditions and restrictions by which the declarant or other party or parties executing the CC&Rs impose contractual obligations upon the present and future owners and assignees of real property. CC&Rs are connected with land or other real property, and run with the land, so that the grantee of such land is invested with and bound by the CC&Rs. CC&Rs include but are not limited to “declarations” for condominiums in accordance with Chapters 64.32 and 64.34 RCW.

“Common open space” means a parcel or parcels of land or an area of water or a combination of land and water within the site designated for a subdivision and designed and intended for the use or enjoyment of the public. Common open space may contain such complementary structures and improvements as are necessary and appropriate for the benefit and enjoyment of residents of the subdivision.

“Condominium” means real property, portions of which are designated for separate ownership and the remainder of which is designated for common ownership solely by owners of those portions. Real property is not a condominium unless the undivided interests in the common elements are vested in unit owners, and unless a declaration and a survey map and plans have been recorded in accordance with Chapters 64.32 or 64.34 RCW. Condominiums are not confined to residential units, such as apartments, but also include offices and other types of space in commercial buildings.

“Dedication” means a deliberate appropriation of land by its owner for any general and public uses, reserving to the owner/dedicator no other rights than such as are compatible with the full exercise and enjoyment of the public uses to which the property has been devoted.

“Development permit” means any permit issued by the city of Port Townsend, allowing the physical alteration of real property including, but not limited to, building construction, street construction, utility construction or installation, grading, filling or excavating. Approval of a subdivision, short subdivision, or lot line adjustment is not considered a “development permit” for the purposes of this title.

“Director,” unless otherwise specified, means the director of the city’s planning and community development department (“PCD”) or the director’s designee.

“Division of land” means the creation of any new lot or lots for the purpose of sale, lease or transfer of ownership, whether such lot or lots is created by full subdivision or short subdivision.

“Engineering design standards” is synonymous with “engineering standards” and means the city’s engineering, design and construction standards and specifications governing the construction of public and private improvements serving developments. The city’s engineering design standards include the public works engineering design standards manual, standards for transportation facilities in accordance with PTMC Title 12 and standards for clearing and grading, erosion control, stormwater facilities and water and sewer improvements as provided in PTMC Title 13.

“Fill” means any sand, gravel, earth, or other materials of any composition whatsoever placed or deposited by humans.

“Final plat” means the final drawing of the subdivision and dedication prepared for filing for record with the county auditor and containing all elements and requirements set forth in this title, and all other applicable codes and ordinances.

“Homeowners association” means an incorporated nonprofit organization operating under recorded land agreements, including but not limited to CC&Rs, through which:

1. Each lot owner is automatically a member;

2. Each lot is automatically subject to a proportionate share of the expenses for the organization’s activities, such as maintaining commonly owned property; and

3. A charge, if unpaid, becomes a lien against the real property.

“Improvements” means the facilities and infrastructure of a land development, including but not limited to the streets, sidewalks, street lights, fire hydrants, stormwater facilities, sanitary sewer facilities, domestic water facilities, and other utilities and facilities required by this title to be constructed in conjunction with any particular land division, as approved by the necessary city departments.

“Land division” means the creation of any new lot or lots for the purpose of sale, lease or transfer of ownership, whether such lot or lots is created by full subdivision or short subdivision.

“Lot” means a designated parcel, tract or area of land established by plat, subdivision, or as otherwise permitted by law, to be separately owned, used, developed, or built upon.

“Lot, corner” means a lot situated at the intersection of two streets or roads, by which the interior angle does not exceed 135 degrees.

“Lot frontage” means the boundary of a lot which is along an existing or dedicated public street, or where no public street exists, along a private road, easement or access way. On an interior lot, it is the lot line abutting a street; or, on a pipestem (flag) lot, it is the interior lot line most parallel to and nearest the street from which access is obtained. On a corner lot the front yard shall be determined by the property owner. On a “through lot,” both street lines shall be deemed front lot lines.

“Lot line adjustment” is synonymous with “boundary line adjustment,” meaning the relocation or other minor adjustment of the boundaries of a lot, in which the relocation does not result in the creation of any additional lot or lots.

“Lot of record” means any undeveloped lot or parcel of land shown on an officially recorded plat or short plat or a parcel of land officially recorded or registered as a unit of property and described by platted lot number or by metes and bounds and lawfully established for conveyancing purposes on the date of recording of the instrument first referencing the lot. The term “lot of record” as used herein does not imply that the lot conforms with the legal regulatory requirements for subdivision of property in accordance with Chapter 58.17 RCW and this title.

“Lot reorientation” means a boundary line adjustment proposing 90-degree lot line rotations to reposition no more than two lots such that no additional building site, lot, tract or parcel is created. “Lot reorientation” may include reorientations of lots through rotational lot line adjustments less than 90 degrees so long as the director determines the proposed reorientation to conform with all criteria for boundary line adjustments.

“Lot, pipestem” is synonymous with “flag lot” and means a lot not meeting minimum frontage requirements and where access to the public road is by a narrow private right-of-way or driveway.

“Lot, through” means a lot that has both ends fronting on a street; both ends shall be deemed front.

“Meander line” means a line along a body of water intended to be used solely as a reference for surveying.

“Nonconforming lot” means a lot of record in existence prior to the effective date of Chapter 17.88 PTMC and any amendments thereto which does not meet the minimum lot size and other requirements as set forth in the zoning code, PTMC Title 17. For further explanation, see Chapter 17.88 PTMC.

“Panhandle” means an irregular extension or protrusion of a lot created for the purpose of providing such lot with frontage on a public or private street or access way.

“PCD” means the city of Port Townsend planning and community development department.

“Preliminary approval” means the final action of the city granting approval to a short or full subdivision, subject to applicable conditions which must be fully satisfied prior to final plat approval.

“Preliminary plat” means a neat and approximate drawing of a proposed subdivision showing the general layout of streets, lots, blocks and other elements of a subdivision consistent with the provisions of this title.

“Private street” means a street that is not deeded to the city and is used for access to secondary lots which have no direct access to a public way.

“Proof of ownership” means a photocopy of a recorded deed to property and/or a current title insurance policy insuring the status of an applicant as the owner in fee title to real property. Where proof of ownership is required by this title, the director shall have the discretion to require a current title insurance policy.

“Public street” means an approved street, whether improved or unimproved, held in public ownership or control (either through deed or easement conveyance) and intended to be open as a matter of right to public vehicular travel.

“Public way” means any publicly owned land set aside for utilities, surface transportation purposes, including vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian transportation, whether improved or not improved.

“Public works director” means the city of Port Townsend public works director or his/her designee, and shall include without limitation the city engineer and the city development engineer.

“Right-of-way” shall have the same meaning as “public way.”

“Roadway” means that portion of an approved street intended for the accommodation of vehicular traffic, generally between curb lines on an improved surface.

“Short plat” means a neat and accurate drawing of a short subdivision, prepared for filing for record with the county assessor, and containing all elements and requirements as set forth by this title.

“Significant trees” means trees situated within opened or unopened public rights-of-way and defined as “significant” in PTMC Title 12.

“Street” means a public or private thoroughfare or easement which affords primary means of access. For the purposes of this title, the definition of street includes all public and private utilities such as communication lines, cable television lines, electrical lines and equipment, gas distribution lines, stormwater, water and sewer facilities, sidewalks, curb or gutter, and other similar facilities commonly found in street rights-of-way.

“Subdivision” means the division or redivision of land into lots, tracts, parcels, sites or divisions for the purpose of sale, lease, or transfer of ownership.

“Subdivision, full” means the division or redivision of land into 10 or more lots, tracts, parcels, sites or divisions for the purpose of sale, lease, or transfer of ownership.

“Subdivision, phased” means a subdivision which is developed in increments over a period of time.

“Subdivision, short” means the division or redivision of land into nine or fewer lots, tracts, parcels, sites, or divisions for the purpose of sale, lease, or transfer of ownership. (Ord. 3287 § 5, 2022; Ord. 2892 § 1, 2005; Ord. 2572 § 2, 1997).

18.04.070 Violation – Penalties.

A. Director’s Authority. Whenever the planning and community development director or his or her designee (“director”) determines that a condition exists in violation of this chapter or any standard required to be adhered to by this chapter, or in violation of any permit issued hereunder, he or she is authorized to enforce the provisions of this chapter.

B. Chapter 1.20 PTMC Applicable. All violations of any provision of this chapter or incorporated standards, or of any permit or license issued hereunder, are declared nuisances and made subject to the administration and enforcement provisions of Chapter 1.20 PTMC, including any amendments, and including but not limited to abatement, criminal penalty, and civil penalty as set forth in Chapter 1.20 PTMC, which are incorporated by reference as if set forth herein. (Ord. 3287 § 5, 2022; Ord. 2952 § 3, 2008; Ord. 2572 § 2, 1997).