Chapter 20.220


20.220.010    Description and purpose.

20.220.020    Minor variance.

20.220.030    Referral of minor variance.

20.220.040    Conditions for granting variance.

20.220.050    Application filing requirements.

20.220.060    Expiration of approval.

20.220.070    Prohibited variance.

20.220.080    Performance bond.

20.220.090    Application for rehearing.

20.220.100    Appeal.

20.220.010 Description and purpose.

A variance shall be initiated by a property owner or his representative on forms provided by and filed with the department and accompanied by the appropriate administrative fee. A variance is a permission granted as a relief from some specific and unusual hardship(s) imposed by the strict interpretation of the dimensional or development requirements of this code. The director and the hearing examiner shall have the authority to grant a variance. The director shall act on applications for variation of up to ten percent in minimum dimensional requirements. A variance granted on the authority of the director is called a “minor variance.” The hearing examiner shall hear all other applications for variance.

A variance shall not be granted in cases where a zone change or zone text amendment is the appropriate administrative procedure. (Ord. 2000-6 § 2(part), 2000: Ord. 97-14 § 88, 1997).

20.220.020 Minor variance.

In accordance with Level I processing procedures, Chapter 20.18, the director may authorize a variance of up to ten percent of any specified dimensional requirement of this code.

20.220.030 Referral of minor variance.

Based on input from the Level II notification procedures, or for other stated cause, the director may defer decision on a minor variance, and refer it to the hearing examiner. In such cases, the hearing examiner’s decision shall substitute for the director’s decision, and Level III timelines and appeal procedures shall be utilized. (Ord. 2000-6 § 2(part), 2000: Ord. 97-14 § 89, 1997).

20.220.040 Conditions for granting variance.

A. All variances other than minor variances shall be heard by the hearing examiner in accordance with Level III processing procedures.

B. In granting a minor variance, the director shall find that the conditions of this section have been met.

C. In authorizing a variance, the hearing examiner shall find that the following conditions have been met:

1. Exceptional or extraordinary circumstances apply to the property itself such as lot size, shape, or topography, which do not apply generally to other properties in the same zone or vicinity, and result from a situation over which the applicant has no control.

2. The variance is necessary for the preservation of a property right of the applicant substantially the same as is possessed by owners of other property in the same zone or vicinity.

3. The granting of the proposed variance will not be materially detrimental to property within the vicinity in respects such as: public safety, traffic, noise, health and sanitation, and hours of operation. The granting of a variance shall not constitute a grant of special privilege inconsistent with the limitations on other properties in the same zoning district.

4. It must be shown that a material hardship unwarranted within the intent of this code will exist if the variance is not granted, and that the hardship cannot be remedied by other means. The hardship demonstrated must not be self created, and must relate to the land itself and not to problems personal to the applicant. The variance permitted shall be the minimum variance which will mitigate the hardship.

5. Authorization of the variance does not adversely affect implementation of the Walla Walla comprehensive plan as amended. (Ord. 2000-6 § 2(part), 2000: Ord. 97-14 §§ 90, 91, 1997).

20.220.050 Application filing requirements.

A written application for a variance shall be made to the department on forms prescribed by that office. An application shall not be considered complete until the following is provided:

A. A completed application form;

B. A scaled site plan indicating the following:

1. All existing and proposed lot line dimensions,

2. Exact location of all existing and proposed structures,

3. Setbacks (in feet) of all structures from existing and proposed lot lines,

4. Easement and right-of-way locations,

5. Individual off-street parking spaces provided,

6. Points of ingress and egress,

7. North arrow and scale;

C. Any other information determined necessary by the director to adequately review the proposal.

20.220.060 Expiration of approval.

A variance shall expire after one year unless terms of the permit have begun or have been substantially completed within that time required by the approving authority. The director may extend authorization for an additional period of six months for reasons such as health, financial, or administrative problems incurred by the applicant during the permit period. The director must make a finding that the delay is justified by circumstances beyond the applicant’s control, and that the six-month extension can reasonably be expected to remedy the circumstances. (Ord. 2012-09 § 73, 2012: Ord. 2000-6 § 2(part), 2000: Ord. 97-14 § 92, 1997).

20.220.070 Prohibited variance.

Under no circumstances shall the hearing examiner authorize a variance to permit a use not generally or conditionally permitted to the zone involved, or any use expressly, or by implication, prohibited by the terms of the zones established by this code. The appropriate mechanism for such applications is a zone text or zone map amendment. (Ord. 2000-6 § 2(part), 2000: Ord. 97-14 § 93, 1997).

20.220.080 Performance bond.

A performance bond or suitable guarantee may be required by the hearing examiner for any elements of the proposed project which the hearing examiner determines are crucial to the protection of the public welfare and are necessary to insure completion of required improvements. (Ord. 2000-6 § 2(part), 2000: Ord. 97-14 § 94, 1997).

20.220.090 Application for rehearing.

No application for a variance shall be considered by the approving authority within one year of a denial of the same or similar request, unless the director first determines that new evidence or circumstances warrant reconsideration within that time. (Ord. 2012-09 § 74, 2012).

20.220.100 Appeal.

Decisions by the hearing examiner for variances may be appealed in accordance with Chapter 20.38, Closed Record Decisions and Appeals.