Chapter 2.56


2.56.010    Intent.

2.56.020    Office created--Duties.

2.56.030    Appointment--Removal.

2.56.040    Qualifications.

2.56.050    Freedom from improper influence.

2.56.060    Conflict of interest.

2.56.070    Prescription of rules for hearings.

2.56.080    Duties.

2.56.090    Authority.

2.56.100    Report of Town staff.

2.56.110    Appeals of decision.

2.56.120    Application or appeal dismissal--Exhaustion.

2.56.130    Report to and meeting with Planning Commission and Town Council.

2.56.010 Intent.

The intent of the ordinance codified in this chapter is to establish a system of land use regulatory hearings that will satisfy the following basic needs:

A.    To render land use regulatory decisions;

B.    To render land use regulatory recommendations to the Town Council;

C.    To provide a single, efficient, integrated land use regulatory hearing and decision system;

D.    To separate the Town’s land use planning program from the land use regulatory process; and

E.    To help insure procedural due process and appearance of fairness by holding such hearings before a neutral party, competent in the fields of land use and procedural requirements.  (Ord. 17-578 § 1 (Exh. B (part)), 2017:  Ord. 99-368 § 1, 1999)

2.56.020 Office created--Duties.

Pursuant to Chapters 35A.63 and 58.17 RCW, the office of Hearing Examiner, hereafter referred to in this chapter as "Examiner," is created.  The Examiner shall interpret, review and implement land use regulations as provided by ordinance and may perform other quasi-judicial functions as are delegated by ordinance.  The term "Examiner" as used in this chapter shall include any deputy examiners, examiners pro tem or substitute examiners.  (Ord. 17-578 § 1 (Exh. B (part)), 2017:  Ord. 99-368 § 2, 1999)

2.56.030 Appointment--Removal.

The Mayor shall appoint the Examiner, with the concurrent majority vote of the Town Council, for a term which shall expire one year following the date of original appointment.  Examiners pro tem (i.e., substitute) may also be contracted to serve in the event of absence or inability of the Examiner to act.  The Mayor may remove the Examiner or the Examiner Pro Tem from office at any time for just cause with the concurrent majority vote of the Town Council.  (Ord. 17-578 § 1 (Exh. B (part)), 2017:  Ord. 99-368 § 3, 1999)

2.56.040 Qualifications.

Examiners shall be appointed solely with regard to their qualifications for the duties of their office and will have such training and experience as will qualify them to conduct administrative or quasi-judicial hearings or regulatory enactments and to discharge other delegated functions.  Examiners shall hold no other elective or appointive office or position with the Town.  Examiners shall not be residents of or own property in the Town.  (Ord. 17-578 § 1 (Exh. B (part)), 2017:  Ord. 99-368 § 4, 1999)

2.56.050 Freedom from improper influence.

No person, including Town officials, elected or appointed, shall attempt to influence the Examiner in any matter pending before him, except publicly at a public hearing duly called for such purpose, or to interfere with an Examiner in the performance of his duties in any other way; provided, that this section shall not prohibit the Town Attorney from rendering legal services to the Examiner.  The office of the Examiner shall be under the administrative supervision of the Examiner and shall be separate and not a part of any other Town department.  (Ord. 17-578 § 1 (Exh. B (part)), 2017:  Ord. 99-368 § 5, 1999)

2.56.060 Conflict of interest.

The Examiner shall be subject to the same code of ethics as other appointed public officers in code cities, as set forth in RCW 35.42.020 and Chapter 42.23 RCW, as the same now exists or may hereafter be amended.  The Examiner shall not conduct or participate in any hearing, decision or recommendation in which the Examiner has a direct or indirect substantial financial or familiar interest, or concerning which the Examiner has had substantial prehearing contacts with proponents or opponents wherein the issues were discussed; nor, on appeal from or review of an Examiner decision, shall any member of the legislative body who has such an interest or has had such contacts participate in the consideration thereof.  This is not intended to prohibit necessary or proper inquiries on matters such as scheduling, but any such contacts are to be entered into the official record of the hearing.  Whenever possible, such inquiries and the responses to such inquiries shall be in writing.  (Ord. 17-578 § 1 (Exh. B (part)), 2017:  Ord. 99-368 § 6, 1999)

2.56.070 Prescription of rules for hearings.

The Examiner shall prescribe rules for the scheduling and conduct of hearings and other procedural matters related to the duties of his office.  Such rules may provide for cross examination of witnesses.  (Ord. 17-578 § 1 (Exh. B (part)), 2017:  Ord. 99-368 § 7, 1999)

2.56.080 Duties.

The duties of the Examiner shall be as follows:

A.    The Examiner shall receive and examine available information, conduct public hearings and prepare a record thereof, enter findings of fact and conclusions based upon those facts, and enter decisions as provided herein.

B.    The decision of the Hearing Examiner on the following matters shall be final and the only appeal therefrom shall be to the Snohomish County Superior Court pursuant to Chapter 36.70C RCW:

1.    Applications for variances from the zoning ordinance (Title 14 of this code);

2.    Appeals from administrative determinations or interpretations of land use regulations; and

3.    Such other quasi-judicial and administrative determinations as may be delegated to the Hearing Examiner.

C.    The Examiner is empowered to act in lieu of officials, boards, or commissions as may be assigned.  Wherever existing ordinances, codes or policies authorize or direct officials, boards or commissions to undertake certain duties which the Examiner has been assigned, such ordinances, codes or policies shall be construed to refer to the Examiner.  Where existing ordinances, codes or policies authorize or direct the Planning Commission to undertake certain duties, such duties shall not be undertaken by the Hearing Examiner.  (Ord. 17-578 § 1 (Exh. B (part)), 2017:  Ord. 01-412 § 1 (Exh.1 (part)), 2001:  Ord. 00-391 § 1, 2000:  Ord. 99-368 § 8, 1999)

2.56.090 Authority.

In the performance of duties prescribed by this chapter or other ordinances, the Examiner shall have the authority to:

A.    Conduct open record public hearings in accordance with Title 14A of this code, Chapter 42.32 RCW, and all other applicable law, regulate the course of the open record hearing, and prepare a record thereof;

B.    Administer oaths and affirmations, examine witnesses, rule upon offers of proof, receive relevant evidence, and conduct discovery procedures that may include propounding interrogatories and taking oral depositions pursuant to Washington State court rules; provided, that no person shall be compelled to divulge information which he could not be compelled to divulge in a court of law;

C.    Issue and cause to be served subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and for production for examination of any books, records or other information in the possession or under the control of any witness; provided, that such subpoena shall state the name and address of the witness sought, and, if for the production of books, documents or things, shall specifically identify the same and the relevance thereof to the issues involved.  In case of failure or refusal without lawful excuse of any person duly subpoenaed to attend pursuant to such subpoena, or to be sworn, or to answer any material and proper question, or to produce upon reasonable notice any material or proper books, documents, or things in his possession and under his control, the Hearing Examiner may invoke the aid of the Town Attorney who shall apply to the appropriate court for an order or other court action necessary to secure enforcement of the subpoena;

D.    Make and enter written findings of fact and conclusions to support his or her decisions;

E.    At the Examiner’s discretion, hold conferences for the settlement or simplification of the issues;

F.    Dispose of procedural requests or similar matters;

G.    Issue summary orders in supplementary proceedings; and

H.    Take any other action authorized by or necessary to carry out the duties prescribed by this chapter or other ordinances.  (Ord. 17-578 § 1 (Exh. B (part)), 2017:  Ord. 99-368 § 9, 1999)

2.56.100 Report of Town staff.

On any land use issue coming before the Examiner, the Town Clerk-Treasurer or his/her designee shall coordinate and assemble the reviews of other Town departments, governmental agencies and other interested parties, and shall prepare a report summarizing the factors involved and the department’s findings and recommendations.  At least seven calendar days prior to the scheduled hearing, the report shall be filed with the Examiner and copies thereof shall be mailed to the applicant and made available for public inspection.  Copies thereof shall be provided to interested parties upon payment of reproduction costs.  In the event that information to be provided by the applicant or other parties outside of Town control has not been provided in sufficient time for filing seven days in advance of the hearing, the Town Clerk-Treasurer may reschedule the hearing and notify interested parties.  (Ord. 17-578 § 1 (Exh. B (part)), 2017:  Ord. 99-368 § 10, 1999)

2.56.110 Appeals of decision.

The decision of the Examiner constitutes a final decision of the Town; except when the Examiner makes a recommendation to Town Council, then the final decision of the Town shall be the Town Council’s.  Appeals of the Town’s final decision shall be to Snohomish County Superior Court pursuant to Chapter 36.70C RCW; provided, however, appeals from the Town’s final decision on shoreline management substantial development permits shall be to the shoreline hearings board pursuant to Chapter 90.58 RCW.  (Ord. 17-578 § 1 (Exh. B (part)), 2017:  Ord. 99-368 § 11, 1999)

2.56.120 Application or appeal dismissal--Exhaustion.

A.    The Examiner may summarily dismiss an appeal or application in whole or in part without hearing when the Examiner determines that the appeal or application is untimely, without merit on face, frivolous, beyond the scope of his or her jurisdiction, brought merely to secure a delay, or that the applicant/appellant lacks standing.

B.    No person may seek judicial review of any decision or determination of the Town unless the person first exhausts the administrative remedies provided by the Town.  (Ord. 17-578 § 1 (Exh. B (part)), 2017:  Ord. 99-368 § 12, 1999)

2.56.130 Report to and meeting with Planning Commission and Town Council.

The Examiner may report in writing to and meet with the Planning Commission and Town Council annually for the purpose of reviewing the administration of the land use policies and regulatory ordinances, and any amendments to Town ordinances or other policies or procedures which would improve the performance of the Examiner process.  Such report shall include a summary of the Examiner’s decisions since the last report.  (Ord. 17-578 § 1 (Exh. B (part)), 2017:  Ord. 99-368 § 13, 1999)