Chapter 21.05


21.05.010    Purpose.

21.05.020    Requirement to obtain long subdivision approval.

21.05.030    Preliminary long subdivision procedure.

21.05.031    Pre-application meeting.

21.05.032    Preliminary long subdivision application submittal.

21.05.033    Reserved.

21.05.035    Reserved.

21.05.036    Preliminary approval decision criteria.

21.05.037    Hearing examiner notice, hearing and decision of preliminary approval.

21.05.038    Reserved.

21.05.039    Phasing, expiration and time extension for preliminary long subdivision approval.

21.05.040    Development requirements.

21.05.050    Roads.

21.05.060    Public and community sites.

21.05.070    Easements.

21.05.080    Water supply.

21.05.090    Sewage disposal.

21.05.100    Fire protection.

21.05.110    Modifications to approved preliminary long plats.

21.05.120    Reserved.

*Prior legislative history: Ord. 2009-007 repealed Ch. 21.05. Ords. 2000-056, 2002-017 and 2004-031 were formerly codified in the chapter.

21.05.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to establish or reference the procedure and requirements for the application, review and approval of subdivisions, also referred to as long subdivisions. The procedure is intended to provide orderly and expeditious processing of such applications. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.05.020 Requirement to obtain long subdivision approval.

All divisions of land into five or more parcels shall require long subdivision approval from Whatcom County unless:

(1) The division is specifically classified as an exemption under Chapter 21.01 WCC; or

(2) The division has received binding site plan approval. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.05.030 Preliminary long subdivision procedure.

Long subdivision applications shall be processed in accordance with Chapter 22.05 WCC, except as otherwise stated in this chapter. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.05.031 Pre-application meeting.

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

21.05.032 Preliminary long subdivision application submittal.

An applicant requesting approval based on the pre-application meeting response of a proposed preliminary subdivision shall submit to the planning and development services department all of the items required in Chapter 22.05 WCC, the notice of site-specific submittal requirements and the department’s administrative manual. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.05.033 Reserved.

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

21.05.035 Reserved.

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

21.05.036 Preliminary approval decision criteria.

The subdivision administrator shall prepare a final staff report (including all recommendations and all proposed conditions of approval) and submit it in written form to both the applicant and the Whatcom County hearing examiner. The report shall evaluate the application in terms of the following standards and criteria:

(1) Open spaces;

(2) Drainage ways and stormwater management;

(3) Streets or roads, pedestrian and bicycle paths, alleys, other public ways, transit stops, and other transportation facilities as required by concurrency standards;

(4) Potable water supplies;

(5) Sanitary wastes;

(6) Parks and recreation facilities and playgrounds;

(7) Schools and schoolgrounds, including sidewalks and other planning features that assure safe walking conditions for students who walk to and from school;

(8) Conformity with the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan;

(9) Conformity with applicable land division, zoning and development standards;

(10) Conformity with critical areas, shoreline management, other land use regulations;

(11) Conformity with Chapter 58.17 RCW; and

(12) A summary finding that the public health, safety, general welfare, use and public interest will be served by the platting of such subdivision and dedication. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.05.037 Hearing examiner notice, hearing and decision of preliminary approval.

The hearing examiner shall schedule and hold an open record hearing, review the application and make a decision in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 22.05 WCC. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.05.038 Reserved.

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

21.05.039 Phasing, expiration and time extension for preliminary long subdivision approval.

(1) Except as provided by subsection (1)(a) of this section, a final plat shall be submitted to the subdivision administrator in proper form for final plat approval within seven years of the date of preliminary plat approval if the date of preliminary plat approval is on or before December 31, 2014, and within five years of the date of preliminary plat approval if the date of preliminary plat approval is on or after January 1, 2015.

(a) A final plat shall be submitted in proper form for final plat approval within 10 years of the date of preliminary plat approval if this project is not subject to requirements adopted under Chapter 90.58 RCW and the date of preliminary plat approval is on or before December 31, 2007.

(2) Extension of Time for Submittal of Final Long Subdivision. The expiration of a preliminary long subdivision approval may be extended under the following provisions:

(a) An applicant files a written request with the subdivision administrator prior to expiration of the five-year expiration period. The request shall state the specific work items, standards, and criteria which have not been completed and the reasons therefor. The request shall also indicate when the work will be completed within the requested period. The subdivision administrator shall review the request and provide a recommendation to the hearing examiner.

(b) The hearing examiner shall have authority to grant one one-year extension subsequent to the original preliminary plat approval.

(c) The one-year extension may be granted if, after taking into consideration technical, economic and other matters beyond the control of the applicant, the hearing examiner finds that there is reasonable justification for the granting of an extension.

(d) In granting the one-year extension the hearing examiner shall take into consideration such changes in rules, regulations, ordinances, or development standards, or portions thereof, that have occurred since the time the original approval was granted.

(e) The hearing examiner may condition the extension so as to require compliance with any such subsequently adopted rules, regulations, ordinances, or development standards, or portion thereof, that are deemed necessary to protect the public health, safety and welfare.

(3) Phased Subdivision. An applicant may seek approval of a phasing plan at the time of preliminary subdivision approval. If phasing is approved as part of a preliminary subdivision, the phasing plan shall expire 10 years from the date of preliminary approval. Each phase submitted after five years from the date of preliminary approval shall comply with the rules, regulations and ordinances in effect as of the date construction plans are submitted for each phase. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2013-049 Exh. 1; Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.05.040 Development requirements.

(1) All 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 subdivision approval, unless security is provided under WCC 21.06.040.

(3) Improvements and other requirements shall be provided to the extent that each phased subdivision will be adequately served by all roads, utilities, drainage facilities, easements and other amenities necessary to its existence in the event that subsequent phases are not completed, 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).

21.05.050 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 adjacent rights-of-way, in accordance with county standards, shall take place whenever a 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 final plat, unless security is provided under WCC 21.06.040.

(3) Minor and local access roads should discourage through traffic.

(4) All subdivisions and phased subdivisions shall abut and be accessed by a constructed and maintained public road or a private road as allowed under the Whatcom County Development Standards. The number of access points shall create efficient on- and off-site circulation patterns and facilitate emergency response. A traffic analysis may be required by the county engineer in order to analyze present and future traffic circulation patterns to determine the appropriate location and number of access points to the site and to ascertain the appropriate classification and character of the proposed roads.

(5) Where reasonably necessary to join with existing roads or needed for future circulation, road rights-of-way and/or easements shall be extended to the outside boundaries of the subdivision.

(6) Public road rights-of-way and/or easements shall be extended to the boundaries of subdivisions that abut public lands and public bodies of water, if requested by the administrator of said public lands. Such access roads need not be provided at an interval more frequent than one-half mile.

(7) Private roads may be permitted in a subdivision when in compliance with the Whatcom County Development Standards. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.05.060 Public and community sites.

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).

21.05.070 Easements.

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

(2) All easements shown on long 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 long 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).

21.05.080 Water supply.

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

(2) For a residential subdivision with six or fewer residences, private water supplies may be utilized 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 subdivision shall not exceed one dwelling per five acres and the number of clustered lots shall not exceed four; 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 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) The applicant shall demonstrate that adequate water right(s) exist to serve the subdivision, except when water withdrawal is exempt from obtaining a water right permit under RCW 90.44.050.

(4) If a Group B public water system is created to serve the subdivision, the number of wells shall be limited to the minimum needed to serve the water needs of the subdivision as determined by the health department.

(5) 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).

21.05.090 Sewage disposal.

(1) Within urban growth areas, public sewer shall be required in 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, 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 plat approval. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.05.100 Fire protection.

Long 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).

21.05.110 Modifications to approved preliminary long plats.

(1) The technical review committee may approve minor changes to a preliminary long plat. In order to qualify as a minor change, the proposal must not adversely impact neighbors or the environment, and the density, uses and basic design of the approved preliminary long plat must be maintained.

(2) The hearing examiner or county council, whichever approved the original preliminary long plat, may approve major changes to the plat. Major changes are those that, in the opinion of the technical review committee, would adversely impact neighbors or the environment, alter the density, alter the uses, or alter the basic design of the preliminary long plat. The SEPA official shall review major changes and determine whether the original SEPA determination is still valid or a new determination required. The hearing examiner or county council shall hold a public hearing prior to issuing the decision. The appropriate city shall be notified of the request and given the opportunity to comment on major changes, if the land division is located within that city’s urban growth area. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. E); Ord. 2009-007 § 1).

21.05.120 Reserved.

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