Chapter 24.02
CLEARING AND GRADING

Sections:

24.02.010    Title.

24.02.020    Definitions.

24.02.030    Purpose.

24.02.040    Authority and administration.

24.02.050    Applicability.

24.02.060    Exemptions.

24.02.070    Application requirements.

24.02.080    Grading plan.

24.02.090    Grading standards.

24.02.100    Grading inspection.

24.02.110    Appeals.

24.02.120    Violations—Penalties.

24.02.130    Severability.

24.02.140    Liability for damages.

24.02.010 Title.

This title shall be known and may be cited as the Skamania County Code Title 24 Clearing and Grading Ordinance. (Ord. 2008-03 (part))

24.02.020 Definitions.

For the purpose of this title, the following definitions shall apply:

“Applicant” means a property owner or any person or entity authorized or named in writing by the property owner to be the applicant, in an application for a clearing and grading permit.

“Approved” means that the proposed work or completed work conforms to this chapter in opinion of the director.

“Berm” means a mound or raised area usually used for the purpose of screening a site or operation, or for containing or directing runoff.

“Civil engineer” means a professional engineer licensed and registered in the state of Washington to practice in civil works.

“Clearing” means the destruction and/or removal of all vegetation by manual, mechanical, or chemical methods resulting in entirely exposed mineral soils in an area exceeding ten thousand square feet.

“Compaction” means the densification of a fill by mechanical, hydraulic or other means approved by an engineering geologist, a civil engineer or a geotechnical engineer.

“Critical areas,” as used in this chapter, means fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas, wetlands, flood hazard areas, geologically hazardous areas and their buffers, as defined in SCC Title 21A, the Skamania County Critical Areas Protection Ordinance.

“Cut” means an excavation or the material removed in excavation work.

“Department” means the Skamania County department of planning and community development.

“Director” means the director of planning and community development or authorized representative.

“Earth material” means any rock, gravel, natural soil or any combination thereof.

“Engineered” or “engineering” means work conducted or prepared by a person licensed in the state of Washington to practice as a professional engineer. “Engineer” is further defined as a civil engineer or geotechnical engineer within this chapter.

“Engineering geologist” means an engineering geologist licensed by the state of Washington.

“Erosion” means the wearing away of the ground surface as the result of the movement of wind, water, and/or ice.

“Erosion and sedimentation control” means any measure taken to reduce erosion, control siltation and sedimentation, and ensure that sediment-laden water does not leave the site.

“Excavation” means the physical removal of earth material.

“Existing grade” is the grade prior to grading.

“Fill” means a deposit of clean earth material, concrete pieces, or asphalt concrete less than one cubic foot in volume.

“Filling” means the physical deposition of material on top of an existing surface.

“Finished grade” is the final grade of the site that conforms to an approved plan.

“Geotechnical engineer” means a professional engineer licensed by the state of Washington to practice in the field of civil engineering who has experience and is knowledgeable in the theory of geology, soil testing, and geotechnical engineering.

“Grade” means the elevation of the ground surface.

“Grading” is any excavation, clearing, or filling activity or combination thereof.

“Grading (engineered)” is grading on sites with a natural slope in excess of fifty percent.

“Grading permit” means the permit required by this chapter for grading activities.

“Permit area boundary” means the defined boundary surrounding grading activity. The permit area boundary will usually be the property lines for the parcel; however, alternate boundaries may be defined on larger parcels with a limited grading area.

“Scarifying” means to break up the surface of soil or pavement.

“Site” means any lot or parcel of land or contiguous combination thereof where activities regulated by this chapter are performed.

“Slope” is an inclined ground surface, the inclination of which is expressed as a ratio of horizontal distance to vertical distance.

“Solid waste” means any nonliquid, nonsoluble materials ranging from municipal garbage to industrial wastes that contain complex and sometimes hazardous substances. Solid wastes also include sewage sludge, agricultural refuse, demolition wastes, and mining residues. Technically, solid waste also refers to liquids and gases in containers.

“Structure” is that which is built or constructed, an edifice or building of any kind, or any piece of work artificially built up or composed of parts joined together in some definite manner. (Ord. 2008-03 (part))

24.02.030 Purpose.

This title is intended to provide uniform procedures authorizing and regulating excavation, grading and earthwork activities within the unincorporated area of Skamania County. While not intended to duplicate other regulations, these regulations are designed to aid in controlling erosion incident to grading activity, and to protect public health, safety and welfare through the adoption and enforcement of provisions designed to:

A. Minimize adverse impacts associated with the excavation and grade of land;

B. Protect water quality from the adverse impacts associated with erosion and sedimentation;

C. Ensure prompt development, restoration, replanting, and effective erosion and sedimentation control of property during and after grading activities;

D. Establish administrative procedures of the issuance of permits, approval of plans, and inspection of grading operations; and

E. Allow for the reasonable development of land in Skamania County. (Ord. 2008-03 (part))

24.02.040 Authority and administration.

The director of the department of planning and community development shall administer, interpret, and enforce this title. The director shall have the authority to issue permits and to perform, or cause to be performed, inspections and take such actions as may be required to enforce the provisions of this title. (Ord. 2008-03 (part))

24.02.050 Applicability.

Unless exempted under SCC Section 24.02.060, no person shall perform any grading activity without having first obtained a permit from the department. Exemption from the permit process shall not relieve any person the requirement for installation of appropriate erosion control measures for their project. No permit or exemption granted pursuant to this title shall remove an applicant’s obligation to comply in all respects with the applicable provisions of any other federal, state, or local law or regulation. (Ord. 2008-03 (part))

24.02.060 Exemptions.

The following activities are exempt from the permit requirements of this title. Materials from exempted excavations may require a separate permit for placement as fill.

A. Mining, quarrying, excavating, processing, or stockpiling activities of rock, sand, gravel, or clay if such operations are authorized by a valid department of natural resources surface mine reclamation permit or Skamania County conditional use permit or other provision of Skamania County Code.

B. All State Department of Natural Resources regulated Class I, II, III, or IV special forest practice activity conducted in accordance with Chapter 76.09 RCW and WAC Title 222.

C. Grading, clearing, filling or excavation of less than five hundred cubic yards, only if located outside critical areas (SCC Title 21A) and regulated shorelines (SCC Title 20).

D. Emergency actions which must be undertaken immediately or for which there is insufficient time for full compliance with this title in the event that:

1. There is an imminent threat to public health or safety;

2. There is imminent danger to public or private property;

3. There is an imminent threat of serious environmental degradation:

a. A person or agency determines that the need to take emergency action is so urgent that there is not sufficient time for review by the department, such emergency action may be taken immediately. Any person or agency undertaking such action shall notify the department within one working day following the commencement of the emergency action. Following such notification the department shall determine if the action taken was within the scope of the emergency actions allowed in this subsection. If the department determines that the action taken or part of the action taken is beyond the scope of allowed emergency action, enforcement action is authorized, as outlined in SCC Section 24.02.120

b. If the action taken qualifies as an emergency, and would have otherwise required a grading permit under this title, then an application for a grading permit will be submitted within thirty days following the emergency event. The application requirements, review, issuance and inspections will be conditioned as outlined in this title.

E. All exemptions as enumerated in the critical area and shoreline ordinances.

F. Nothing herein may interfere or overrule the right to farm ordinance.

G. Nothing in this chapter shall be retroactive and all current projects are vested. (Ord. 2008-03 (part))

24.02.070 Application requirements.

Unless exempted under SCC Section 24.02.060, all persons proposing to conduct grading and/or clearing activity within the jurisdictional boundaries of unincorporated Skamania County shall first apply for a grading permit. The applicant shall obtain a grading permit in conformance with this title prior to any grading activity.

A. The permit application shall at a minimum include the following:

1. A completed application, signed by the property owner and the applicant, a vicinity map, environmental checklist (if required), and any relevant supplemental information required by the director.

2. Grading plans as described in SCC Section 24.02.080

3. A full identification and written description of the work to be covered by the permit for which the application is made.

4. A timeline for completion of the project.

5. Nonrefundable application fee as determined by resolution of the board of county commissioners.

B. Granting of Permits.

1. After an application has been filed and reviewed the director shall ascertain whether such proposed grading work complies with the provisions of this title. If the application and plans so comply, or if they are corrected or amended so as to comply, and the proposal is consistent with all other relevant county codes, the director shall issue a grading permit.

2. The applicant/property owner shall maintain the approved grading plans and permit available on the site, and provide an individual copy to any grading contractor who will be working at the site.

3. A grading permit shall be valid for a period of two years from the date of permit issuance, only for the grading work applied for. An extension may be granted for an additional twelve months for special circumstances. Request for extensions shall be submitted in writing to the department prior to expiration of the current permit, setting forth the reasons and justification for the request. No permit may be extended more than once. Renewal of permits may be accomplished with existing plans and reports, if no changes are being made to the proposal, and no new significant issues are raised during the review. (Ord. 2008-03 (part))

24.02.080 Grading plan.

An application for clearing and grading shall be accompanied by a grading plan. If the clearing and grading project involves engineered grading, than an engineered grading plan based on an engineering report or an engineering geology report shall be submitted with the application. Engineered grading plans shall be prepared and stamped by an engineering geologist, geotechnical engineer and/or civil engineer licensed to work in the state of Washington. Grading within a geological hazard critical area may require a geotechnical assessment report in compliance with the critical area protection ordinance (SCC Title 21A). A grading plan, shall include:

A. An easily reproducible drawing at a scale of appropriate size to show location and details of all cuts and all fills including depth and finished slopes of all cuts and all fills;

B. A general vicinity map of the area and site plan of the project;

C. North arrow;

D. Dimensions and location of subject property boundary lines, location of the permit area boundary, existing and proposed roads, or driveways, easements, natural or manmade bodies of water and drainages, critical areas, shorelines, and any existing or proposed structures, wells or septic systems on the site, and the distance between such features;

E. Bodies of water, critical areas, structures, wells and septic systems on adjacent property and lying within fifty feet of the subject grading activity boundary that could be affected by the proposed grading operations;

F. Location and dimensions of buffer areas to be maintained or established, and location and description of proposed erosion-control devices or structures;

G. Map drawn with contour intervals (five-foot or less) that adequately depict existing and proposed slope for the proposal;

H. Total quantities, in cubic yards, and type of cut and fill material, including on-site grading material, and imported material. Cross section drawings that include:

1. Maximum depth of fill and maximum height of cuts,

2. Existing and proposed buildings and their setbacks from cut or fill slopes,

3. Existing grades extending a minimum of twenty feet beyond the scope of work,

4. Finished grades of cuts and fills extending a minimum of twenty feet beyond the scope of work,

5. Retaining walls and the adjacent grade at least twenty feet on either side of the wall(s),

6. Grades of all existing cut and fill areas expressed as a ratio of horizontal to vertical slope;

I. The disposal site for excavated material. Off-site disposal may require a separate grading permit;

J. The location of proposed erosion and sedimentation control measures showing compliance with the requirements of SCC Section 24.02.090

K. Detailed plans of all surface and subsurface drainage devices, walls, cribbing, dams, berms, settling ponds, or other water or erosion control devices to be utilized as a part of the proposed work;

L. Any recommendations included in an engineering geology or geotechnical assessment or report for grading or developing the property. If required, assessment and reports shall be completed in compliance with SCC Title 21A prior to issuance of a clearing and grading permit. (Ord. 2008-03 (part))

24.02.090 Grading standards.

Unless otherwise recommended in an approved soils engineering or engineering geology report, grading shall conform to the following standards. Erosion control measures may be installed as outlined in this title, unless otherwise recommended by a project engineer.

A. Appropriate erosion control measures shall be installed prior to any grading activity. All erosion control measures shall be maintained in place until vegetation is established for suitable erosion and sedimentation control. No sediment from grading operations shall be permitted to leave the site or enter any surface waters or wetlands. If the grading activity timeline includes winter months, then a “winter shutdown” standard for site erosion control will be provided by the applicant.

B. Sites shall have a finished grade that drains away from structural foundations for a minimum of ten feet.

C. All sites shall be cleaned upon project completion, including installation of permanent native grass seeding, landscaping, or other organic means of erosion control.

D. Cuts or fills of five feet in depth or greater shall be set back from property lines by a minimum of twenty-five feet. This can be decreased with appropriate engineering. Setback dimensions shall be horizontal distances measured perpendicular to the site boundary.

E. The top of cut slopes shall not be made nearer to a permit area boundary line than one-fifth of the vertical height of cut with a minimum of two feet and a maximum of ten feet. The setback needs to be increased for any required interceptor drains.

F. The toe to fill slopes shall be made not nearer to the permit area boundary line than one-half the height of the slope with a minimum of two feet and a maximum of twenty feet.

G. The director may approve alternate setbacks at the request of the applicant. In approving these alternate setbacks, the director may require an investigation and recommendation by a qualified engineer or engineering geologist to demonstrate that the intent of this section has been satisfied.

H. Any proposed finished slope that is steeper than two horizontal to one vertical shall be engineered.

I. The ground surface shall be prepared to receive fill by removing all organic material, noncomplying fill, and scarifying topsoil.

J. Solid waste as defined in this chapter, and detrimental amounts of organic material shall not be used as fill materials.

K. Fill slopes shall not be constructed on natural or cut slopes steeper than two units horizontal in one unit vertical (fifty percent slope) unless the permittee furnishes a geotechnical engineering or an engineering geology report or both, stating that the site has been investigated and giving an opinion that a cut at a steeper slope will be stable and not create a hazard to public or private property.

L. At the request of the applicant, the director may approve the use of alternate grading standards. These approvals shall be based on sound engineering practices and may require the submittal of additional documentation, reports, or testing.

M. No grading shall obstruct or alter any existing natural drainage way, stream, or any other natural body of water.

N. No grading shall alter or increase surface drainage onto any adjacent properties. (Ord. 2008-03 (part))

24.02.100 Grading inspection.

Grading projects for which a permit is required shall be subject to inspection by the director. A licensed Washington State professional engineer shall provide professional inspections of grading operations if engineering is required elsewhere in this title. An inspection schedule shall be established for each project prior to permit issuance based on the following:

A. A civil engineer shall provide professional inspections within such engineer’s area of technical specialty, which shall consist of observation and review as to the establishment of line, grade and surface drainage of the development area. If revised plans are required during the course of the work, they shall be prepared by the civil engineer.

B. A geotechnical engineer and/or engineering geologist shall provide professional inspection within such engineer’s area of technical specialty, which shall include observation during grading and testing for required compaction. The engineer shall provide sufficient observation during the preparation of the natural ground and placement in accordance with the conditions of the approved plan and the appropriate requirements of this title. He or she shall also provide professional inspection of any excavation to determine if conditions encountered are in conformance with the approved report or plan. Revised recommendations relating to conditions differing from the approved engineering geology or geotechnical reports shall be submitted to the permittee, the department, and the civil engineer.

C. The permittee shall be responsible for the work being performed in accordance with the approved plans and specifications and in conformance with the provisions of the title. When approved by the director, the permittee may engage consultants, if required, to provide professional inspections on a timely basis. The permittee shall act as a coordinator between the consultants, the contractor and the department. In the event of changing conditions, the permittee shall be responsible for informing the department of such change and shall provide revised plans for approval.

D. The department may inspect the project in various stages of work.

E. If, in the course of fulfilling their respective duties under this title, the civil engineer, geotechnical engineer, or engineering geologist finds that the work is not being done in conformance with this title or approved grading plans, the discrepancies shall be reported in writing within three working days to the permittee and to the department.

F. If the civil engineer, geotechnical engineer, or engineering geologist of record is changed during grading, the work shall be stopped until the replacement has agreed in writing to accept the responsibility within the area of technical competence for approval upon completion of the work. It shall be the duty of the permittee to notify the department in writing of such a change prior to the recommencement of such grading. (Ord. 2008-03 (part))

24.02.110 Appeals.

Any interpretation or decision made by the director in the administration of this title is final and conclusive unless appealed to the Skamania County hearing examiner.

A. The subject property owner, if aggrieved by a decision of the director may, within fourteen days following the date of the department’s written decision, submit an appeal of that decision. The burden of proof in any appeal is the responsibility of the appellant. Any appeal shall be in writing on the notice of appeal form and filed with the department together with the fee as established by resolution of the board of county commissioners and include the certificate of mailing. Any appeal shall at a minimum contain the following information:

1. An explanation and description of how the appellant is aggrieved.

2. A statement describing why the appellant believes the decision of the director is in error and the specific relief sought.

3. A statement showing why upholding an appeal will not be detrimental to public health, safety or welfare, or significantly negate the purpose of this title.

4. A statement describing any mitigating measures the appellant proposes to assure that the proposed actions will not irrevocably jeopardize adjacent properties or water bodies in the event the appeal is successful.

B. Notice of the time, date and place of the hearing before the hearing examiner shall be sent to the appellant and the permittee by first class mail prior to the appeal hearing not less than ten days prior to the appeal hearing. Legal notice of the appeal hearing shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation.

C. The director shall transmit the application and appeal information to the hearing examiner at least ten days prior to the appeal hearing. The director may provide additional information if the appeal contains material or facts not available prior to the director’s decision.

D. Within ten days after the appeal hearing the hearing examiner shall issue a written decision, including findings of fact on which the decision is based. The hearing examiner shall determine if the appeal should be upheld, or denied. Such written decision shall be transmitted to the appellant and shall be available to the public upon request.

E. Any parts of record aggrieved by the decision of the hearing examiner may request relief from the superior court of Skamania County pursuant to state law. (Ord. 2008-03 (part))

24.02.120 Violations—Penalties.

Whenever any work is being done contrary to the provisions of this title, the director may order the work stopped by notice in writing served on any persons engaged in the doing or causing of such work. Once notified, any such person shall forthwith stop such work until authorized by the director to proceed.

Any person who shall knowingly violate any of the provisions of Skamania County Code Title 24, or fails to comply with any order issued by the planning department or hearing examiner, shall be guilty of a violation punishable by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars per violation. A violation will be deemed to occur for each day that the violation continues after the person has been notified by certified mail or personal service of the apparent violation. Payment of a penalty shall not excuse the violation, or permit the violator to continue to violate the county’s ordinance. All persons shall be required to correct or remedy such violations or defects within a reasonable time as specified by the planning department.

Whenever grading activities for which a permit is required by this title has been commenced without first obtaining said permit, an after-the-fact review fee shall be imposed. The after-the-fact review fee shall be established by resolution of the board of county commissioners from time to time. The payment of an after-the-fact review fee shall not exempt any person from compliance with all other provisions of this title nor from any penalty prescribed by law. (Ord. 2008-03 (part))

24.02.130 Severability.

If any section, subsection, chapter or other portion of this title is for any reason held invalid or unconstitutional by any court of competent jurisdiction, such section, subsection, chapter or portion thereof shall be deemed a separate provision of this title and such holding shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this chapter. Where conflicts exist between standards, the more restrictive shall apply. (Ord. 2008-03 (part))

24.02.140 Liability for damages.

This title shall not be construed to hold Skamania County, its officers, employees or agents responsible for any injury or damage resulting from the failure of any person subject to this title to comply with this title, or by reason or in consequence of any act or omission in connection with the implementation or enforcement of this title on the part of Skamania County, its officers, employees or agents. (Ord. 2008-03 (part))