Chapter 15.39


15.39.010    Undergrounding of utilities.

15.39.010 Undergrounding of utilities.

(1) As a condition of any new development or redevelopment, new and existing utilities shall be installed or relocated underground consistent with the provisions of this chapter except as hereafter provided. Utilities include infrastructure to support public services, such as electricity, gas, water, sewer, and communications.

(a) The applicant shall be responsible for complying with the requirements of this section and shall make all necessary arrangements with the utility companies and adjacent properties affected by the installation of such facilities.

(b) The applicant shall include utility location and details on grading and building plans as part of construction permit submittal, including providing anticipated locations for utility features and apparatuses.

(2) The term “new” or “redevelopment” for purposes of this section includes any one of the following conditions:

(a) A building permit for a new building where frontage improvements are required pursuant to Chapter 21.62 WMC;

(b) A building permit for a project where the cost of construction equals or exceeds 50 percent of the assessed value of the existing structures on site, excluding interior remodel of existing single-family residential structures and auxiliary buildings; or

(c) A project where there are 10 or more additional average daily trips generated or more parking spaces required.

(3) New and existing utilities shall be placed entirely below ground when located within a property undergoing new development or redevelopment, and/or along the length of the property in the adjoining half-street, except when:

(a) Where undergrounding of utilities within a site is not feasible due to utility or infrastructure conflicts, topographic conditions, or site limitations. The facilities shall be screened with landscaping consistent with subsection (5) of this section. The Public Works Director may waive, limit, or modify the requirement for such improvements.

(b) For existing utilities only, when the cost of undergrounding is greater than two and one-half percent of the valuation of the project as determined by the summation of the valuation on all required development permits.

(4) Utility features and apparatuses may be placed above ground when meeting one of the following requirements. Utility features and apparatuses include ancillary equipment or devices required for the operation of the utility, rather than for conveyance, including but not limited to transformers, meters, vents, assemblies, and other related equipment.

(a) Fire hydrants and Fire Department connections as required by the International Fire Code, electric lines as exempted in WMC 12.30.310, and wireless service facilities constructed in accordance with Chapter 21.45 WMC.

(b) Gas and electrical meters when located on the side or rear of a building.

(c) Other utility features and apparatuses in residential zones R-1 through R-8, except multifamily and nonresidential development, placed at least five feet from the edge of sidewalk, pavement edge, or back of ditch and screened with landscape consistent with subsection (5) of this section.

(d) Other utility features and apparatuses in multifamily or nonresidential development may be placed above ground only when:

(i) Less than 36 inches in height from finished grade, and located within a building or at least five feet from the edge of sidewalk or pavement edge, whichever is greater; and screened with landscape consistent with subsection (5) of this section; or

(ii) Greater than 36 inches in height from finished grade, and located within a building, or placed in a nonprominent location on the side or rear of the building at least 30 feet from the right-of-way or other public areas, and located behind decorative fencing or required landscaping pursuant to Chapter 21.36 WMC.

(e) Publicly operated traffic signal controllers, electric service cabinets, irrigation controllers, and similar utility features.

(5) Landscaping shall be required for aboveground utility features and apparatuses and planted in a manner to provide a vegetated screen of the subject facilities, meeting the following requirements:

(a) Landscaping shall be installed in a manner that meets the requirements of the serving utility, including prescribed minimum distances or clear working area, planting locations above service lines, and species selection.

(b) The landscaping area shall be required on sides that are visible from the public right-of-way or public areas. The depth of any landscaping area shall be at least five feet.

(c) Landscaping shall incorporate a variety of plant types and species that feature a range of heights, colors, and textures. The landscaping shall include a minimum of three different species.

(d) Shrubs shall be a minimum of 24 inches in height at time of planting and spaced no more than three feet apart. Groundcovers shall be spaced 18 inches on center.

(e) Alternative screening methods, such as decorative fencing or walls, and other concealment measures may be allowed as approved by the Development Services Director or through design review pursuant to Chapter 21.33 WMC. Screening shall meet the access and visibility standards for the serving utility and may not prohibit access for maintenance and emergency access.

(6) Deviation requests from these standards may be granted by the Development Services Director or Public Works Director where strict application of these standards will conflict with utility installation or maintenance required by the serving utility. (Ord. 737 § 17, 2022; Ord. 602 § 2, 2015; Ord. 517 § 2, 2010; Ord. 58 § 1, 1993)