Chapter 22.20


22.20.010    Purpose and applicability.

22.20.020    Request for interpretation prior to project permit application.

22.20.030    Procedure.

22.20.040    Factors for consideration.

22.20.050    Issuance of interpretation.

22.20.060    Appeals.

22.20.010 Purpose and applicability.

(1) The purpose of this chapter is to establish the procedure for interpreting provisions of Whatcom County’s land use and development codes to clarify conflicting or ambiguous wording in the absence of a pending project permit.

(2) The director of planning and development services (director) is authorized to make written interpretations of the provisions of the following titles of the WCC:

(a) WCC Title 16, Environment;

(b) WCC Title 20, Zoning;

(c) WCC Title 21, Land Division Regulations;

(d) WCC Title 22, Land Use and Development Procedures; and

(e) WCC Title 23, Shoreline Management Program.

(3) Issuance of an interpretation of the provisions of the code shall not amend the code. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. A)).

22.20.020 Request for interpretation prior to project permit application.

A person may request an interpretation of the code prior to submission of a project permit. The person shall submit a written request on a form provided by the department specifying each provision of the code for which an interpretation is requested, why an interpretation of each provision is necessary, and any reasons or material in support of a proposed interpretation. Interpretations of a pending project permit shall be made through the applicable permitting process as established in Chapter 22.05 WCC (Project Permit Procedures). (Ord. 2020-045 § 1 Exh. A; Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. A)).

22.20.030 Procedure.

(1) The director shall determine how to process the code interpretation request. The request may be:

(a) Processed as a Type I decision per WCC 22.05.020; or

(b) Consolidated with the process associated with the review of a pre-application.

(2) The director shall consult with the Department of Ecology regarding any interpretation of the shoreline management program. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. A)).

22.20.040 Factors for consideration.

In making an interpretation of the provisions of the code, the director shall consider the following:

(1) The applicable provisions of the code including their purpose and context;

(2) The impact of the interpretation on other provisions of the code;

(3) The implications of the interpretation for development within the county as a whole; and

(4) The applicable provisions of the comprehensive plan and other relevant codes and policies. (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. A)).

22.20.050 Issuance of interpretation.

The director shall issue a written interpretation within 30 calendar days of the department’s receipt of the interpretation request. Issuance of the interpretation shall include notification of the person making the request and publication of the interpretation on the county’s website. The director may docket an amendment to clarify the affected section of county code per WCC 22.10.020(2). (Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. A)).

22.20.060 Appeals.

Any person with standing may file an appeal of a formal code interpretation. The appeal shall follow all rules and procedures for appeals to the hearing examiner as set forth in WCC 22.05.160. (Ord. 2019-013 § 1 (Exh. A); Ord. 2018-032 § 1 (Exh. A)).