Chapter 14.02


14.02.010    Purposes.

14.02.020    Definitions.

14.02.030    Exemptions.

14.02.040    Appeal of administrative decisions.

14.02.050    Amendments to this title.

14.02.060    Variances from the requirements and procedures of this title.

14.02.070    Violation – Penalty.

14.02.080    Violation of approval.

14.02.090    Unapproved divisions shall not be filed for record.

14.02.100    Remedies.

14.02.110    Judicial review of decisions.

Prior legislation: Ord. 731.

14.02.010 Purposes.

The provisions contained in this title are necessary to regulate the division and development of land and to promote the public health, safety, and general welfare in accordance with established standards; to prevent the overcrowding of land; to lessen congestion in the streets and highways; to promote the effective use of land; to promote safe and convenient travel by the public on streets and highways; to promote access for service and emergency vehicles; to provide for adequate light and air; to promote the proper arrangement of streets, lots, easements, and other private or public ways; to facilitate adequate provisions for water, sewage, parks and recreation areas, sites for schools and school grounds and other public requirements; to provide for ingress and egress; to implement the comprehensive plan; to provide for the expeditious review and approval for proposed divisions which conform to zoning standards and local plans and policies; to provide for the residential, commercial, and industrial needs of the citizens; and to require uniform monumenting of land divisions and conveyance by accurate legal description. (Ord. 1224 § 1, 2000)

14.02.020 Definitions.

Whenever the following words or phrases appear in this title, they shall be given the meaning attributed them by this section. When not inconsistent with the context, words used in the present tense include the future; the singular includes the plural, and the plural the singular. The word “shall” is always mandatory and the word “may” indicates a use of discretion in making a decision.

“Administrator.” The administrator of this title shall be any official or city employee appointed by the mayor.

“Bond” means any form of financial security including a cash deposit, surety bond, collateral, property, or instrument of credit in a form satisfactory to the city attorney and of an amount satisfactory to the city council or agency, which requires the bond.

“City engineer” means a licensed civil professional engineer retained to review long or short subdivisions on behalf of the city.

“Comprehensive plan” means coordinated plans for the physical development of the city, designating, among other things, plans and programs to encourage the most appropriate use of land and to lessen congestion throughout the city in the interest of public health and safety.

“Cul-de-sac” means a road closed at one end by a circular area of sufficient size for turning vehicles around.

“Dedication” means the deliberate appropriation of land conveying title to the land by an owner for any general or public uses, reserving to himself no other rights than such as are compatible with the full exercise and enjoyment of the public uses to which the property has been devoted.

“Deed” means a document conveying ownership of real estate.

“Easement” means a grant by a property owner to specific persons, or to the public, of the right to use that property for a specific use or purpose.

“Final plat” means the final drawing of a long subdivision prepared for filing for record with the Grays Harbor County auditor and containing all elements and requirements set forth in Chapter 58.17 RCW, as amended, and in this title adopted pursuant thereto.

“Lease” means the legal contract for or the assignment of the sole or preemptive right to use real property whether subdivided or unsubdivided for any specified period of time.

“Legal description” means a metes-and-bounds description by which the property may be identified by a competent surveyor with reasonable certainty, either with or without the aid of extrinsic evidence; or it means a description of real property by survey, or lot and block numbers of a recorded plat including a description of any portion thereof subject to an easement or reservation, if any.

“Long subdivision” means the division or re-division of land into 10 or more lots, tracts, parcels, sites, or divisions for the purpose of sale, lease, or transfer of ownership unless exempted by WMC 14.02.030.

“Lot” means a fractional part of subdivided lands having fixed boundaries being of sufficient area and dimension to meet minimum zoning requirements for width, area, and access. The term includes tracts, parcels, sites, or other divisions of land for sale, lease, or transfer of ownership.

“Preliminary approval” means the official written action approving a preliminary plat when provision of improvements or fulfillment of conditions or execution of bonding agreements are to occur prior to final approval. The applicant shall be entitled to final approval when the conditions are met and/or improvements are provided.

“Preliminary plat” means a neat and approximate drawing of a proposed long subdivision showing the general layout of roads, lots, blocks, and other elements of a subdivision consistent with the requirements of this title. The preliminary plat shall be the basis for the approval or disapproval of the general layout of a subdivision.

“Public road or street” means an improved and maintained public right-of-way that provides vehicular circulation or principal means of access to abutting properties, and which may also include utilities, pedestrian walkways, public open spaces and recreational areas, cut-and-fill slopes and drainage.

“Required improvements” means physical changes to real property which are required pursuant to the provisions of this title and applicable ordinances including, but not limited to, roads, drainage systems, bridges, signs, water supply, sewage disposal, fire protection, electrical power, telephone service, parks, open space, and community facilities.

“Right-of-way” means property occupied or intended to be occupied by a street, crosswalk, railroad, road, electric transmission line, oil or gas pipeline, water main, sanitary or storm sewer components or channels, or for another special use. The usage of the term “right-of-way” for land dividing purposes shall mean that every right-of-way hereafter established and shown on a plat or map is to be separate and distinct from the lots or parcels adjoining such right-of-way and not included within the dimensions or areas of such lots or parcels. Rights-of-way intended for maintenance by a public agency shall be dedicated to public use by the maker of the plat or map on which such right-of-way is established.

“Roadway” means that portion of a right-of-way that is improved and maintained for vehicular and/or pedestrian traffic.

“Roadway improvement” means any changes in the street right-of-way including grading and paving.

“Short plat” means a document consisting of the map of a short subdivision together with written certificates and data.

“Short subdivision” means the division or redivision of land into nine or fewer lots, tracts, parcels, sites or divisions for the purpose of sale, lease, or transfer of ownership unless exempted by WMC 14.02.030.

“Street” means that property which provides vehicular circulation or other means of access to abutting properties and which may also include provisions for public utilities, pedestrian walkways, bridges, pathways for bikes or horses, open space, cut and fill slopes, and drainage.

“Subdivider” means a person or corporate persons who undertakes to create a short or long subdivision.

“Turnaround” means an area provided at one end of a road to turn vehicles around.

“Variance” means a modification of the strict terms of this title where such modification will not be contrary to the public interest and where owing to conditions peculiar to the property, a literal enforcement of the regulations would result in unnecessary and undue hardship. (Ord. 1224 § 1, 2000)

14.02.030 Exemptions.

The provisions of this title shall not apply to the following:

(1) Any cemetery or burial plot while used for that purpose.

(2) Any division of land in which the smallest lot exceeds five acres in area or exceeds the minimum lot size in the city zoning ordinance, as codified in WMC Title 17, when such minimum lot size is larger than five acres.

(3) Division made by testamentary provisions, or the laws of descent.

(4) A division for the purpose of lease when no residential structure other than mobile homes or travel trailers are permitted to be placed upon the land when the governing body of the city or county has approved a binding site plan for the use of the land in accordance with local regulations pursuant to WMC 17.36B.010.

(5) A division made for the purpose of adjusting boundary lines which does not create any additional lot, tract, parcel, site, or division nor create any lot, tract, parcel, site, or division which contains insufficient area and dimension to meet minimum requirements for width and area for a building site.

(6) Assessor’s plats made in accordance with RCW 58.12.050, 58.17.240, 58.17.250, and 58.18.010 or their successors.

(7) Any lawful division established prior to the ordinance codified in this title.

(8) Divisions made under the provisions of WMC 17.36B.010, Binding site plan option.

(9) Divisions made under Chapter 64.32 or 64.34 RCW, Condominiums. (Ord. 1224 § 1, 2000)

14.02.040 Appeal of administrative decisions.

Any person aggrieved by any administrative decision under this title may appeal the decision to the city council within 30 days of the date the decision was made.

(1) Appeals shall be initiated by notifying the administrator in writing that a review of the decision is requested. The notice shall include the reasons for the appeal. The administrator shall submit the request to the city council prior to their next regular meeting.

(2) At their next regular meeting, the council shall set the date for the public hearing on the appeal. Notice of the hearing shall be given by: (A) one publication in the city’s legal newspaper at least 10 days prior to the date of the hearing; and (B) posting the notice of hearing at City Hall for the same period. Notice of date, time, and place of the hearing shall be mailed to the appellant at least 10 days prior to the hearing.

(3) The administrator shall prepare a written statement setting forth the rationale for the decision being appealed. The administrator’s statement shall be mailed to the appellant at least 10 days prior to the hearing date. The administrator shall transmit the statement to the council.

(4) During the hearing, the city council may hear and receive such evidence as it deems necessary and appropriate including, but not limited to, statements from the appellant, the administrator, and other interested citizens. The hearing shall be open to the public. All parties interested may be present in person and/or represented by counsel. All persons present shall be entitled to be heard. In deciding the appeal, the council shall consider only the merits of the statements as they relate to the specific terms, phrases, or sections of the ordinance in question and shall not consider the merits of the proposal or property affected by the decision. All decisions shall be in conformance with state and local regulations.

(5) The decision of the city council shall be final and shall be considered the official interpretation unless overturned by a court of law. (Ord. 1224 § 1, 2000)

14.02.050 Amendments to this title.

(1) For the purpose of providing for the public health, safety, and general welfare, the city council may, from time to time, amend the provisions of this title. All amendments shall be by ordinance. The amendments may be initiated by the planning commission, the city council, or other interested party. The planning commission shall review all proposed amendments and forward its recommendations to the council. A public hearing(s) shall be held as prescribed by this title and applicable state laws.

(2) It is the policy of the city to provide advance notice of all amendments to this title to the citizens of the city. To implement this policy the following notice provisions are established:

(A) At least one public hearing shall be held on all amendments to this title. Notice shall be published in the city’s legal newspaper at least 10 days prior to the hearing. The proposed amendment(s), any staff reports, and any supporting documents shall be available for public review on the date the notice is published at the offices of the city clerk or administrative secretary.

(B) The city clerk shall maintain a list of those individuals and organizations that have requested advance notice of amendments to this title. Notice of proposed amendments shall be mailed to the individuals and organizations on the list at least 10 days prior to the public hearing date. (Ord. 1224 § 1, 2000)

14.02.060 Variances from the requirements and procedures of this title.

Variances from the requirements and procedures of this title may be granted by the city council. Application for a variance shall be made in writing to the administrator. The application shall include the provisions of this title requested to be varied, the reasons for the variance request, and whether the variance conforms to the findings in subsection (4) of this section. Where possible, variances should be submitted when application for long or short subdivision approval is made. When submitted at a later date, it may be necessary for the applicant to waive the review time limits in this title to ensure timely review of the variance request.

(1) Variances from the short subdivision requirements may be granted by the city council after conducting a public hearing.

(2) Variances from the long subdivision requirements may be granted by the city council after receiving a recommendation from the planning commission on the variance. Prior to making a recommendation, the planning commission shall hold a public hearing on the request.

(3) Notice of public hearings shall comply with the notice requirements set out in RCW 58.17.090 or its successor. Variance hearings may be conducted concurrently with required long subdivision hearings where a common hearing notice so specifies. Concurrent hearings are encouraged.

(4) Variances may be granted when the following findings are made by the city council after a public hearing.

(A) There exists extraordinary conditions or unusual circumstances peculiar to the property and not the result of the action of the applicant.

(B) A literal enforcement of the regulations would result in unnecessary and undue hardship.

(C) Justice could be done and the public interest secured by granting of a suitable variance.

(D) The variance conforms to the provisions of Chapter 58.17 RCW as amended.

(5) In recommending approval of variances, the planning commission may require conditions that will, in its judgment, secure substantially the objectives of the standards or requirements varied.

In granting variances, the city council may adopt the conditions recommended by the planning commission and/or may require their own conditions, which in their judgment will secure substantially the objectives of the standards or requirements so varied.

(6) Variances from the administrative procedures portions of the ordinance codified in this title may be granted by the city council, upon recommendation of the administrator, when the council is assured the variance is in keeping with the general intent of this title, and the public health, safety, and welfare would not be adversely affected thereby. In granting administrative variances the city council may require their own conditions, which in their judgment will secure substantially the administrative procedures or requirements so varied.

No variance shall be granted from the provisions of Chapter 58.17 RCW and any procedure of this title mandated by Chapter 58.17 RCW, as amended. (Ord. 1224 § 1, 2000)

14.02.070 Violation Penalty.

Each and every violation of this title is a misdemeanor, and shall be punished by a fine of not more than $250.00, or by imprisonment for not more than 90 days. Each sale, lease, or transfer of ownership of a lot in violation of this title shall be deemed a separate offense and shall be punishable as a separate offense. When any person divides or attempts to divide land subject to the provisions of this title without having first secured final approval of the short plat or long plat, the city attorney may commence action to enjoin further violations and to compel compliance with this title. (Ord. 1224 § 1, 2000)

14.02.080 Violation of approval.

Whenever land within a long subdivision or short subdivision granted final approval is used or divided in a manner or for a purpose which violates any provision of Chapter 58.17 RCW as amended, or this title, or any term or condition of short plat or long plat approval prescribed by the city council or other authorized body or official, then the city attorney may commence an action to restrain and enjoin such use and compel compliance with the provisions of Chapter 58.17 RCW, or this title, or with such terms and conditions. The costs of such action may be levied against the violator. (Ord. 1224 § 1, 2000)

14.02.090 Unapproved divisions shall not be filed for record.

The Grays Harbor County auditor shall refuse to accept any long plat or short plat or any other map, plan, site plan, plat, instrument of division or platting, document dividing land, record of survey, any document with a metes and bounds description for the purpose of dividing land for sale, lease, or transfer of ownership and any other platting document, diagram, or representation for filing until approval of the plat or division has been given in compliance with this title and evidenced by the approving signature of the mayor. Should a plat, division, or document be filed without such compliance, the city attorney shall apply for a writ or mandate in the name and on behalf of the city council directing the auditor and assessor to remove from their files or records the unapproved division or plat. (Ord. 1224 § 1, 2000)

14.02.100 Remedies.

The city attorney shall have access to all remedies provided in this title and Chapter 58.17 RCW as it now exists or is hereafter amended. (Ord. 1224 § 1, 2000)

14.02.110 Judicial review of decisions.

Any decision approving or disapproving any plat or division shall be reviewed for unlawful, arbitrary, capricious, or corrupt action or nonaction by writ of review before the superior court of the county in which such matter is pending. The action may be brought by any property owner in the city who deems himself aggrieved thereby; provided, that application for a writ of review shall be made to the court within 30 days from any decision so to be reviewed. The cost of transcription of all records ordered certified by the court for such review shall be borne by the appellant. (Ord. 1224 § 1, 2000)