2.18.010    Purpose.

2.18.020    Creation – Appointment – Term.

2.18.030    Qualifications.

2.18.040    Hearing Examiner pro tempore.

2.18.050    Removal.

2.18.060    Conflict of interest.

2.18.070    Freedom from improper influence.

2.18.080    Authority and duties.

2.18.090    Appeal from Hearing Examiner’s decision.

2.18.100    Annual report.

2.18.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to implement an administrative land use regulatory system which separates the City’s land use regulatory function from its land use planning function; ensure and expand the principles of fairness and due process in public hearings; and to provide an efficient and effective land use regulatory system which integrates the public hearing and decision making processes for land use matters. (Ord 07-200 §2)

2.18.020 Creation – Appointment – Term.

Pursuant to RCW 58.17.330 and RCW 35A.63.170 the office of Hearing Examiner is hereby established. The Hearing Examiner shall be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Mayor, which appointment shall be confirmed by a majority of the whole Council, and subject to the execution of an agreement providing for compensation, term, and other matters not inconsistent with this chapter and the Code. (Ord 07-200 §2)

2.18.030 Qualifications.

The Hearing Examiner shall be appointed solely with regard to qualifications for the duties of such office and shall have such training or experience as will qualify the Hearing Examiner to conduct administrative or quasi judicial hearings utilizing land use regulatory codes. The Hearing Examiner must have expertise and experience in planning, and should have knowledge or experience in at least one of the following areas: environmental sciences, law, architecture, economics or engineering. (Ord 07-200 §2)

2.18.040 Hearing Examiner pro tempore.

The Mayor, without the need for prior confirmation of the City Council, may appoint one or more Hearing Examiner pro tempore, who shall serve when the Hearing Examiner is absent, or unable to act. The Hearing Examiner pro-tempore shall have all the duties and powers of the Hearing Examiner, and shall have such training or experience established by this chapter. The Mayor may establish compensation for the Hearing Examiner pro tempore as is consistent with the compensation of the Hearing Examiner. (Ord 07-217 §3; Ord 07-200 §2)

2.18.050 Removal.

Prior to the expiration of a term, the Hearing Examiner may be removed from office by the Mayor, for cause. (Ord 07-200 §2)

2.18.060 Conflict of interest.

The Hearing Examiner shall not conduct or participate in any hearing, decision or recommendation in which the Hearing Examiner has a direct or indirect substantial financial or familial interest, or concerning which the Hearing Examiner has had substantial pre-hearing contacts with proponents or opponents. The Hearing Examiner shall abide by the applicable provisions of state law, the Code and the Appearance of Fairness Doctrine. (Ord 07-200 §2)

2.18.070 Freedom from improper influence.

No person, including City officials, elective or appointive, shall attempt to influence the Hearing Examiner in any matter pending before them, except at a public hearing duly called for such purposes, or to interfere with the Hearing Examiner in the performance of their duties in any other way; provided, that this section shall not prohibit the City Attorney from rendering legal services to the Hearing Examiner upon request, or prohibit other persons or officials from responding in writing to requests for information from the Hearing Examiner; and further provided, that a City official or employee may, in the performance of their own official duties, provide information for the Hearing Examiner or process a case before the Hearing Examiner, when such actions take place or are disclosed in the proceeding before the Hearing Examiner. (Ord 07-200 §2)

2.18.080 Authority and duties.

A. The Hearing Examiner shall receive and examine available relevant information, including environmental documents, conduct public hearings, cause preparation of a record thereof, prepare and enter findings and conclusions based on these facts for the following:

1. Matters delegated to the Hearing Examiner in the Land Use Code;

2. Rezones not of general applicability; and

3. Appeals alleging an error in administrative decisions or determinations pursuant to chapter 43.21C RCW;

B. Any other matters as specifically assigned to the Hearing Examiner by the City Council or as prescribed by the Code.

C. The Hearing Examiner’s decision shall be based upon the policies of the comprehensive planning documents of the City, the standards set forth in the various development regulations of the City or any other applicable program adopted by the City Council. When acting upon any of the above applications or appeals, the Hearing Examiner may grant or deny the application, or may attach reasonable conditions, modifications and restrictions found necessary to make the project compatible with its location and to carry out the goals and policies of the applicable comprehensive plan, or other applicable plans or programs adopted by the City Council.

D. The Hearing Examiner shall have the power to prescribe rules and regulations concerning procedures for hearings before the Hearing Examiner; to issue summons for and compel the appearance of witnesses, to administer oaths and to preserve order. The privilege of cross-examination of witnesses shall be accorded all interested parties or their counsel in accordance with rules of the Hearing Examiner. (Ord 07-200 §2)

2.18.090 Appeal from Hearing Examiner’s decision.

The Hearing Examiner’s decision on all land use actions shall be final and conclusive unless the Hearing Examiner is requested to reconsider their decision, and an appeal therefrom is filed with the Grant County Superior Court within twenty-one days of the notice of decision on reconsideration. (Ord 07-200 §2)

2.18.100 Annual report.

A. The Hearing Examiner shall meet at least once per calendar year with the City Council and the Planning Commission for the purpose of reviewing the policies contained in the City’s Comprehensive Plans and the administration of these policies.

B. The Hearing Examiner shall briefly summarize the Hearing Examiner’s decisions and recommendations for each calendar year. (Ord 07-200 §2)