Chapter 17.69


17.69.010    Purpose.

17.69.020    Authority.

17.69.030    Precondition.

17.69.040    Variance – Limitations – Conditions.

17.69.050    Specific nature.

17.69.060    Minor variance – Administrative review.

17.69.070    Major variance – Board of adjustment review.

17.69.080    Plan – Applications.

17.69.090    Criteria for review of applications.

17.69.100    Granting and denial – Details and findings required.

17.69.110    Existing violation – No permit issued.

17.69.120    Minor variance – Public notice.

17.69.130    Major variance – Public notice.

17.69.140    Expiration.

17.69.150    Revocation – Review procedures.

17.69.160    Appeal.

17.69.010 Purpose.

Where practical difficulties exist that render compliance with the provisions of this title or other land use regulatory codes of the city impractical, and such compliance would create unnecessary hardships to the owner or use of land or buildings, the city may grant a variance in harmony with the general purpose and intent of such codes so long as the spirit and benefits of such codes will be preserved. The city has established a two-tier variance process in which minor variances are reviewed through an administrative review process and all other variance requests are reviewed through the board of adjustment. [Ord. 21-20 § 25, 2020; Ord. 15-17 § 1 (Exh. A), 2017; Ord. 40-07 § 1, 2007].

17.69.020 Authority.

The city shall have the authority to grant approval, conditional approval, or denial of variance permits. In granting a variance permit, certain safeguards may be required, and certain conditions may be established to accomplish the following:

A. To protect the health, safety, convenience, and general welfare of the public;

B. To provide relief from a specific hardship; and

C. To assure that the purposes of the zoning code shall be maintained with respect to the particular variance on the particular requested site. [Ord. 21-20 § 25, 2020].

17.69.030 Precondition.

Before a person may apply for a variance permit, the administrator must find that the applicant is not able to mitigate adverse impacts associated with the applicant’s proposal so that a variance is not needed. The decision of the administrator is subject to a Type I review process as described within WRMC Title 14. [Ord. 21-20 § 25, 2020; Ord. 15-17 § 1 (Exh. A), 2017; Ord. 40-07 § 1, 2007].

17.69.040 Variance – Limitations – Conditions.

No nonconforming use of neighboring lands, structures, or buildings in the same district, and no permitted use of lands, structures or buildings in other districts, shall be considered grounds for the issuance of a variance.

The city shall not grant a variance under any circumstances to allow a use not permissible under the terms of this title in the district involved, or any use expressly or by implication prohibited by the terms of this title in said district.

In granting any variance, the city may prescribe appropriate conditions and safeguards in conformity with this title. [Ord. 21-20 § 25, 2020].

17.69.050 Specific nature.

The variance shall be granted only for specified item(s) and shall not grant exception to other zoning provisions. Such variances as are granted shall be considered as individual cases. [Ord. 21-20 § 25, 2020; Ord. 15-17 § 1 (Exh. A), 2017; Ord. 40-07 § 1, 2007. Formerly 17.69.030].

17.69.060 Minor variance – Administrative review.

A. The community development director shall have the authority to grant an administrative variance for the following applications:

1. Setbacks. Up to 25 percent of the numerical standard for setbacks from lot lines as found in Tables,, or, Area and Dimensional Regulations. The yard setbacks may be reduced no more than five feet overall.

2. Lot Depth and Width. Dimensions may be reduced by 10 percent.

3. Lot Coverage. May be increased by up to five percent.

4. Fences and Walls. May be up to eight feet in height for commercial developments and zoning district transitions where residential zoning abuts commercial and/or industrial zoning districts.

5. Fences up to four feet in height in the front yard setback where safe sight distance(s) can be demonstrated in accordance with WRMC 12.08.060, Visibility, and 12.50.010, Vegetation obstructions.

6. Required Parking Stalls. May be reduced by up to 10 percent which may not include required handicapped stalls.

B. The administrative variance may not be used to violate or invalidate any other portions of the municipal code or easements.

C. The administrative variance process is not applicable to new development where the proposed structure(s), specifically buildings, can be redesigned or otherwise relocated on the site to accommodate the current zoning regulations. The administrative variance process is intended to apply to additions, infill redevelopment and similar conditions. [Ord. 21-20 § 26, 2020; Ord. 15-17 § 1 (Exh. A), 2017; Ord. 6-12 § 1 (Att. A), 2012. Formerly 17.70.040].

17.69.070 Major variance – Board of adjustment review.

A request for variance to any development standard contained within this title not specifically identified within WRMC 17.69.060, Minor variance – Administrative review, shall be reviewed by the board of adjustment via a Type III review process as outlined within WRMC Title 14. [Ord. 21-20 § 26, 2020].

17.69.080 Plan – Applications.

In order to apply for a variance request from the city, the applicant shall submit a complete application which includes the following:

A. Be submitted on forms supplied by the community development department. The owner or owner’s representative must sign the application;

B. Be accompanied by the following if required by the community development director:

1. A site plan;

2. A variance report, prepared by a title company, showing the names and addresses of the owners of the property and the names and addresses of surrounding land owners within 600 feet of the property subject to the application(s). The variance report shall be submitted to the city in both paper format and electronic format with names and addresses acceptable to the city;

3. An application fee in accordance with the adopted fee schedules;

4. Such additional information as parking areas, traffic access, circulation analysis, open spaces, landscaping, locations of critical areas or buffers, and other pertinent information including any special reports (i.e., geotechnical report, wetland delineation) that may be necessary to determine if the proposed conditional use meets the requirements of this title and adequately mitigates any significant adverse environmental impacts that could occur; and

5. A written narrative outlining mitigation measures and methods proposed to reduce or control impacts caused by the proposed use, including, but not limited to, light, heat, glare, traffic, noise, access, etc. [Ord. 21-20 § 26, 2020].

17.69.090 Criteria for review of applications.

When a determination is made according to WRMC 17.69.030 that an applicant cannot eliminate the need for a variance, the applicant may seek a variance permit. The burden of proof is on the applicant. The project permit application must be supported by convincing proof that the variance conforms to the applicable elements of the city’s development regulations and comprehensive plan. A variance shall be denied unless the applicant demonstrates with clear and convincing evidence that the requested variance meets all of the criteria set forth below:

A. That special conditions and circumstances which create a hardship exist;

B. That 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 properties in the vicinity and in the zone in which the subject property is located;

C. That the special conditions and circumstances do not result from the actions of the person seeking the variance;

D. That granting the variance will not confer on the person seeking the variance any special privilege that is inconsistent with the limitation upon other uses of properties in the vicinity and in the zone in which the property on behalf of which the application is located;

E. That the variance requested is the minimum necessary to afford relief; and

F. That to afford relief the requested variance will not be materially detrimental to the public welfare or injurious to the property or improvements in the vicinity and zone in which the subject property is situated.

In granting any variance, the governing body shall prescribe such conditions and safeguards as are necessary to protect the public interest. [Ord. 21-20 § 26, 2020].

17.69.100 Granting and denial – Details and findings required.

A. The granting of the variance shall state the precise zoning requirement for which a variance is sought and shall state the degree of variance (e.g., “Table specifies a minimum front yard depth of 20 feet for the RM-10 district. This variance shall permit a front yard depth of 18 feet”) along with specific written findings addressing the criteria contained in WRMC 17.69.090.

B. No variance from the terms of this title or any other land use regulatory ordinance or municipal code provision shall be granted unless the governing body provides for findings in the decision. [Ord. 21-20 § 26, 2020; Ord. 15-17 § 1 (Exh. A), 2017; Ord. 6-12 § 1 (Att. A), 2012. Formerly 17.70.030].

17.69.110 Existing violation – No permit issued.

No permit shall be issued for a variance where there is an existing violation of this title. [Ord. 21-20 § 26, 2020; Ord. 15-17 § 1 (Exh. A), 2017; Ord. 6-12 § 1 (Att. A), 2012. Formerly 17.70.070].

17.69.120 Minor variance – Public notice.

Public notice shall be mailed to those properties adjacent to the subject site. [Ord. 21-20 § 26, 2020].

17.69.130 Major variance – Public notice.

The notification and processing of a variance application reviewed by the board of adjustment shall proceed in accordance with the requirements for Type III permits, as outlined in WRMC Title 14. [Ord. 21-20 § 26, 2020].

17.69.140 Expiration.

Any variance granted pursuant to this title becomes null and void if not exercised within the time specified in such permit or, if no date is specified, within one year from the effective date of approval of said variance. [Ord. 21-20 § 26, 2020].

17.69.150 Revocation – Review procedures.

A. The review authority may initiate proceedings to revoke a variance permit. Individuals who are aggrieved may petition the entity having jurisdiction to initiate revocation or modification proceedings.

B. Procedures for revoking or modifying a variance permit are governed by the notification and processing requirements established for that particular type of variance, as outlined in WRMC Title 14.

C. The review authority, after a public hearing, may revoke or modify a variance permit. Such revocation or modification shall be made on any one or more of the following grounds:

1. General noncompliance of permit conditions;

2. That the approval was obtained by deception, fraud, or other intentional and misleading representation;

3. That the permit granted is exercised contrary to the terms or conditions of such approval or in violation of any statute, resolutions, code, law or regulation.

4. That the use for which the approval was granted is so exercised as to be detrimental to the public health or safety. [Ord. 21-20 § 26, 2020].

17.69.160 Appeal.

The actions of the governing body shall be final and conclusive, unless appealed to Benton County superior court by a party of record, pursuant to WRMC 14.06.060. [Ord. 21-20 § 26, 2020].