Chapter 18.72
VARIANCES*

Sections:

18.72.010    Purpose.

18.72.020    Scope.

18.72.030    Variances – Application procedure.

18.72.040    Variances – Review criteria.

18.72.050    Limitations on the granting of variances.

18.72.060    Variances – Effective period.

18.72.070    Extension of time.

18.72.080    Assurance device.

*Prior legislation: Ord. 97-019 and 2001-005.

18.72.010 Purpose.

To provide a mechanism whereby the city may grant relief from the provisions of this title and SMC Titles 16 and 17, where practical difficulties render compliance with the provisions of this title, or SMC Titles 16 and 17, an unnecessary hardship, where the hardship is the result of the physical characteristics of the subject property, and where the purpose of this title, or SMC Titles 16 and 17, and the comprehensive plan can be fulfilled. (Ord. 2007-010 § 3)

18.72.020 Scope.

This chapter shall apply to each application for a variance from any of the provisions of this title or SMC Titles 16 and 17. (Ord. 2007-010 § 3)

18.72.030 Variances – Application procedure.

Applications for a variance must be filed with the department of community development.

A. In those instances where review of an application for a variance has been consolidated with other development applications, the variance will be considered with the highest procedure required consistent with the requirements of SMC Title 20.

B. Prior to the authorization of a variance, the hearing examiner or city council must hold a public hearing. Notification of the required public hearing must be made consistent with the requirements of SMC Title 20. The decision of the hearing examiner or of the city council is final.

C. Applications for variance may be consolidated with other permits required, consistent with the requirements and procedures of SMC Title 20. (Ord. 2019-004 (Exh. B); Ord. 2011-017 § 1; Ord. 2007-010 § 3)

18.72.040 Variances – Review criteria.

The hearing examiner or the city council (if the reviewing body consistent with the requirements of SMC Title 20) may not authorize any variance to the provisions of this title unless all of the following facts and circumstances exist:

A. Such 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 similarly situated properties in the vicinity and in the zone in which the subject property is located;

B. The special conditions and circumstances do not result from the action of the applicant;

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

D. The variance shall not constitute a grant of special privilege inconsistent with the limitation upon uses of other properties in the vicinity and in the zone in which the property is located and would not adversely affect the use of the neighboring properties; and

E. The granting of the variance will not be materially detrimental or contrary to the comprehensive plan and will not adversely affect the character of the neighborhood and the rights of neighboring and adjacent property owners. (Ord. 2019-004 (Exh. B); Ord. 2007-010 § 3)

18.72.050 Limitations on the granting of variances.

The hearing examiner or city council (if the reviewing body consistent with the requirements of SMC Title 20) may not recommend approval of any variance that would:

A. Change the use of a structure or land, or change the boundaries of a zoning district;

B. Change the zoning requirements regulating the use of land;

C. Change the procedural or administrative requirements of this code. (Ord. 2019-004 (Exh. B); Ord. 2007-010 § 3)

18.72.060 Variances – 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 other provisions of this code.

2. The variance approval provides for a greater time period. (Ord. 2007-010 § 3)

18.72.070 Extension of time.

A. The city manager or his/her designee 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 city manager or his/her designee 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. 2007-010 § 3)

18.72.080 Assurance device.

In appropriate circumstances, the city manager or his/her designee may require a reasonable performance or 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. 2007-010 § 3)