Chapter 21.04
SHORT SUBDIVISIONS*

Sections:

21.04.010    Purpose.

21.04.031    Pre-application meeting.

21.04.032    Short subdivision application submittal.

21.04.033    Reserved.

21.04.034    Preliminary approval decision criteria.

21.04.035    Final short subdivision review process.

21.04.038    Reserved.

21.04.040    Restriction of further division.

21.04.050    Development requirements.

21.04.060    Roads.

21.04.070    Public dedications.

21.04.080    Easements.

21.04.090    Water supply.

21.04.100    Sewage disposal.

21.04.110    Fire protection.

21.04.120    Short subdivision vacation and alteration.

21.04.130    Land survey.

21.04.140    Security.

21.04.150    Reserved.

21.04.160    Reserved.

21.04.170    Disclosures and notes.

21.04.180    Agricultural short plat.

*Prior legislative history: Ord. 2009-007 repealed Ch. 21.04. Ords. 2000-056, 2002-017 and 2004-031 were formerly codified in the chapter.

21.04.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to establish or reference the procedure and requirements for the application, review and approval of short subdivisions. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2013-040 Exh. 1; Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.04.031 Pre-application meeting.

(1) Pre-Application Meeting Required Pursuant to Chapter 22.05 WCC. Any person contemplating preparation of a preliminary short subdivision application shall submit information required for a pre-application meeting as provided in Chapter 22.05 WCC and in the department’s administrative manual. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.04.032 Short subdivision application submittal.

An applicant requesting approval of a proposed short subdivision shall submit to the planning and development services department an application with all items required pursuant to WCC 22.05.050 and the department’s administrative manual. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.04.033 Reserved.

Repealed by Ord. 2018-032. (Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.04.034 Preliminary approval decision criteria.

The subdivision administrator shall issue a notice of preliminary approval, issue a notice of additional requirements to obtain preliminary approval, or deny the application. Preliminary short subdivision approval or denial is considered a final administrative determination. A short subdivision determination shall be accompanied by written findings by the county that:

(1) Appropriate provisions have been made for the public health, safety, and general welfare and for such drainage ways, stormwater management, streets or roads, potable water supplies, sanitary wastes, and sidewalks and other planning features that assure safe walking conditions for students who only walk to and from school, and the public use and interest will be served by the platting of such short subdivision and dedication; and

(2) The short subdivision is in conformity with applicable land division, zoning, critical areas, shoreline management, and other land use regulations. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.04.035 Final short subdivision review process.

(1) Submittal. The final short subdivision submittal packet shall include responses to all items called for in the notice of preliminary approval, and shall be in conformance with the department’s administrative manual.

(2) Time Allowed for Final Short Subdivision Approval.

(a) The applicant shall submit the final review packet with items required by the department’s administrative manual within two years of receiving the notice of preliminary approval.

(b) The applicant shall record the short subdivision original drawing pursuant to the department’s administrative manual within three years of receiving the notice of preliminary approval.

(c) If the applicant fails to submit the final short subdivision within these time frames, the short subdivision shall be considered expired and a new application meeting the requirements of this title and other Whatcom County codes will be required.

(3) The applicant, or their representative, shall submit such drawings and other information as required by the county engineer or utility provider for the construction of required improvements.

(4) The applicant shall submit paper prints of the proposed final short subdivision for review prior to preparation of final original drawings.

(5) Execution and Acceptance of Final Short Subdivision.

(a) When all requirements of the notice of preliminary approval, applicable laws, applicable regulations, and applicable development standards are satisfied and an original drawing for recording has been submitted, the subdivision administrator shall sign the original drawing of the short plat within 20 working days.

(b) If a right-of-way is dedicated, the county engineer shall also sign the original drawing, accepting the dedication.

(c) The surveyor of record shall file said original drawing with the county auditor, at which point it shall be deemed approved. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.04.038 Reserved.

Repealed by Ord. 2018-032. (Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.04.040 Restriction of further division.

Land in short subdivisions may not be further divided in any manner within a period of five years except through the long subdivision process which requires the filing of a final plat or through the binding site plan process which requires the filing of a general and specific binding site plan. However, if the short subdivision contains fewer than four parcels, nothing in this section shall prevent the owner who filed the short plat from filing an alteration within the five-year period to create up to a total of four lots within the original short subdivision boundaries. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.04.050 Development requirements.

(1) All short subdivisions shall comply with the applicable standards, requirements and procedures of the Whatcom County Development Standards and local, state, and federal laws and regulations. The county, to the extent practicable, will require new land divisions located within city urban growth areas to conform to city development standards, in accordance with adopted ordinances.

(2) Improvements are required to be installed and completed by the subdivider prior to final short plat approval, unless security is provided under WCC 21.04.140, except on-site septic systems do not have to be installed unless required by the health officer. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.04.060 Roads.

Roads shall be designed with appropriate consideration for existing and projected roads, anticipated traffic patterns, topographic and drainage conditions, public convenience and safety, and the proposed uses of the land served.

(1) Dedications for the realignment and widening of the rights-of-way, in accordance with county standards, shall take place whenever a short subdivision abuts a county road. Frontage roads or parallel access roads may be required to eliminate direct access to arterial and collector roads.

(2) Frontage improvements to the public roadway(s) adjacent to the subject property shall be completed to the current functional classification prior to recording the short plat, unless security is provided under WCC 21.04.140.

(3) Roads and access easements that serve a short plat shall be constructed in compliance with the Whatcom County Development Standards. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.04.070 Public dedications.

The dedication of sites for schools, parks, and other public or community purposes may be required to the extent that such dedication is suitable to and reasonable for the needs anticipated by full development of the subdivision. Dedicated school sites must meet the requirements of Chapter 246-366 WAC. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.04.080 Easements.

(1) Easements shall be provided where applicable for development-related facilities.

(2) All easements shown on short plats shall include:

(a) The beneficiary of the easement;

(b) The purpose of the easement; and

(c) A clear depiction of the easement (including dimensions) on the face of the short plat.

(3) The owner may specify the burdening of the easement. Examples of burdening may include the average daily trips for ingress and egress easements, the equivalent single-family units for water, sewer, and on-site sewage disposal systems and the maximum peak flow rate expressed in accepted units for drainage easements. The owners of the subservient estates are not entitled to rely upon the county to enforce the limitations of the easements so granted, and no cause of action shall lie against the county for errors or omissions occurring in connection with the administration of, or issuance of, permits for development of properties that burden the easements referred to herein. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.04.090 Water supply.

(1) Water from a public water system(s) shall be provided to serve each lot in a short plat, except as specified in subsection (2) of this section.

(2) For residential short subdivisions, private water supplies may be used under the following circumstances:

(a) All lots served by the private water supplies are five acres or larger, unless smaller because of clustering. If the lots are smaller because of clustering, the gross density of the short subdivision shall not exceed one dwelling per five acres; and

(b) The withdrawal is not from a defined portion of an aquifer of known regional ground water contamination that exceeds state standards and that has been identified by the director of the health department and confirmed by the board of health; and

(c) The water source is ground water and not surface water; and

(d) If the short subdivision is within the designated water service area of a public water purveyor that is shown on the coordinated water system plan map or within one-half mile of an existing water purveyor’s water lines:

(i) The water cannot be provided to the applicant within 120 calendar days of submitting a written request and applicable fees to the purveyor unless specified otherwise by the hearing examiner or county council; or

(ii) The purveyor states in writing that it is unable or unwilling to provide the service; or

(iii) The purveyor and applicant are unable to achieve an agreement on the schedule and terms of provision of service within 120 calendar days.

(3) If a public water supply is required, all the requirements of Chapter 246-290 WAC, Group A Public Water Systems, or Chapter 246-291 WAC, Group B Public Water Systems, must be met prior to final plat approval. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2018-020 Exh. A; Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.04.100 Sewage disposal.

(1) Within urban growth areas, public sewer shall be required in short subdivisions unless the on-site sewage disposal requirements of WCC 24.05.210, Developments, subdivisions, and minimum land area requirements, can be met.

(2) Outside of the urban growth area and small town Comprehensive Plan designations, short subdivisions shall not be approved that require extension or expansion of public sewer except when:

(a) Public sewer is necessary to protect the public health, safety or environment; and

(b) Public sewer is financially supportable at rural densities and does not permit urban development.

(3) On-site sewage disposal systems shall meet the requirements of WCC 24.05.210, Developments, subdivisions, and minimum land area requirements.

(4) All portions of a community on-site sewage system that are held in common ownership shall be constructed and approved prior to final short plat approval. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.04.110 Fire protection.

Short subdivisions shall incorporate adequate capability for fire protection in accordance with sound engineering practices and locally adopted codes and development standards and shall be approved by the county fire marshal. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.04.120 Short subdivision vacation and alteration.

Applications to vacate or alter short plats that have been filed with the county auditor shall be processed as follows:

(1) Affidavit of Minor Correction of Survey. A professional land surveyor may file an “affidavit of minor correction of survey” pursuant to WAC 332-130-050 to correct minor survey, spelling, mathematical or drafting errors or omitted signatures. The surveyor shall file the affidavit of minor correction of survey with the county auditor and provide one copy to the division of engineering and one copy to planning and development services.

(2) Boundary Line Adjustments. Boundary line adjustments are processed under WCC 21.03.060 and are not subject to the provisions of this section, except for such adjustments that alter the boundaries of a reserve tract in the short plat.

(3) Alterations. The subdivision administrator shall issue a notice of preliminary approval, issue a notice of additional requirements to obtain preliminary approval, or deny the application; provided, that the alteration does not propose to eliminate or reduce the width or length of a public dedication. Preliminary short subdivision alteration approval is considered a final determination.

(a) Alterations are modifications to text, maps or other information shown on the short plat that:

(i) May adversely impact public health, public safety, shorelines or critical areas;

(ii) Change the density, modify the uses, or alter the basic design of the short plat;

(iii) Create an additional lot(s) to a maximum of four within the short plat pursuant to WCC 21.04.040;

(iv) Modify reserve tract boundaries;

(v) Modify reserve tract or cluster notes; or

(vi) Modify or extinguish an easement shown on the face of the short plat.

(b) The application shall include a written description of the alteration, the reasons for the alteration, and a map showing the alteration. The map shall be prepared in accordance with the requirements of the department’s administrative manual.

(c) The subdivision administrator shall approve the alteration if the alteration:

(i) Shall result in a lot(s) that qualifies as a valid land use pursuant to Whatcom County Code, including but not limited to lot area, lot width, building setbacks, critical areas protection or shorelines protection;

(ii) Shall not cause boundary lines to cross zoning or UGA boundaries, cross on-site sewage disposal systems or their reserve areas, prevent suitable area for on-site sewage disposal systems, prevent adequate access to water supplies, or not meet fire protection standards;

(iii) Will not detrimentally affect access, access design, sight distance, grade, road geometry or other public safety and welfare concerns. The alteration shall be reviewed by the department of health, public works, and any other agency or department with expertise;

(iv) Complies with zoning, land division regulations and development regulations applicable to the alteration that are in effect at the time the application for the alteration was submitted; and

(v) Complies with development standards applicable to the alteration that are in effect at the time the application for the alteration was submitted.

(d) A new original drawing is submitted. The original drawing shall be prepared in accordance with the requirements of the department’s administrative manual and filed for record with the county auditor.

(4) Vacations – Not Involving Public Dedications. The subdivision administrator shall approve, deny or issue a notice of requirements to continue processing a vacation of a short plat that does not eliminate or reduce the width or length of a public dedication.

(a) The application shall include a written description of the vacation, the reasons for the vacation, and a map showing the vacation.

(b) The subdivision administrator shall approve the vacation if the vacation does not conflict with the public interest.

(c) An order of vacation containing the signatures of all parties having an ownership interest in the short plat or the portion of the short plat being vacated shall be filed for record with the county auditor. The order shall state that the vacation is with the free consent and in accordance with the desires of the owners.

(d) Title to the vacated property shall vest with the rightful owner(s) as shown in the county records.

(5) Vacations – Involving Public Dedications. The vacation and alteration of a short subdivision shall be processed in accordance with RCW 58.17.212 and 58.17.215, respectively, when the alteration or vacation eliminates or reduces the width or length of a public dedication. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.04.130 Land survey.

The applicant shall submit a short plat prepared and certified by a professional land surveyor in accordance with the department’s administrative manual. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.04.140 Security.

As an alternate to complete installation of required improvements, the subdivider may elect to post securities, with the approval of the appropriate county authority, as set forth in the Whatcom County Development Standards guaranteeing completion of the work. No occupancy permit, final inspection, or use of the lot(s) created by a short subdivision shall be issued or allowed until all necessary infrastructure improvements as specified by this title have been met. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.04.150 Reserved.

Repealed by Ord. 2018-032. (Ord. 2016-045 § 1 Att. A; Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.04.160 Reserved.

Repealed by Ord. 2018-032. (Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.04.170 Disclosures and notes.

The following disclosures and notes, if applicable, shall be recorded in the county auditor’s office and a statement identifying the subject and the auditor’s file number, if applicable, for each such instrument shall be on the final short plat map prior to final approval by the county:

(1) Right to farm, right to practice forestry, mineral resource disclosures.

(2) Critical area notes and protective easement as required.

(3) Boundary discrepancies.

(4) Drainage maintenance agreement block.

(5) Road maintenance agreement block (private roads only).

(6) Significant pipeline in vicinity disclosure when the subject property is within 500 feet of a pipeline shown on Map 5-2, Chapter 5 of the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2016-035 § 1 (Exh. A), 2016; Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.04.180 Agricultural short plat.

The provisions of WCC 20.40.253 and 20.40.254 provide for the segregation of a farmstead parcel with an existing residence(s) from a remainder parcel used for farming in the Agriculture Zone. The remainder parcel is restricted to agricultural use only. Because no further residential development can occur on the remainder parcel and an existing residential structure is already on the farmstead parcel, many of the standard short plat requirements are unnecessary. Therefore, a shortened review process has been established.

Agricultural short plats that qualify under WCC 20.40.253 and 20.40.254 shall be subject to the following:

(1) Agricultural short plats that recognize an existing farmstead home site shall be processed pursuant to all the requirements of this chapter except that the short plat will not be reviewed for compliance with:

(a) WCC 21.04.060 (Roads);

(b) WCC 21.04.090 (Water supply), when the remainder parcel will not require potable water;

(c) WCC 21.04.100 (Sewage disposal);

(d) WCC 21.04.130 (Land survey);

(e) Chapter 16.16 WCC (Critical Areas); and

(f) Shoreline master program.

(2) Any subsequent development must comply with all applicable codes.

(3) Survey Requirements – Partial. A survey, prepared by a professional land surveyor in accordance with the department’s administrative manual, which provides the location of at least two corners of the farmstead parcel, shall be submitted. A survey is not required for the remainder parcel that cannot have further residential development. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2013-040 Exh. 1; Ord. 2009-007 § 1).