36.70B.020  <<  36.70B.030 >>   36.70B.040

Project reviewRequired elementsLimitations.

(1) Fundamental land use planning choices made in adopted comprehensive plans and development regulations shall serve as the foundation for project review. The review of a proposed project's consistency with applicable development regulations, or in the absence of applicable regulations the adopted comprehensive plan, under RCW 36.70B.040 shall incorporate the determinations under this section.
(2) During project review, a local government or any subsequent reviewing body shall determine whether the items listed in this subsection are defined in the development regulations applicable to the proposed project or, in the absence of applicable regulations the adopted comprehensive plan. At a minimum, such applicable regulations or plans shall be determinative of the:
(a) Type of land use permitted at the site, including uses that may be allowed under certain circumstances, such as planned unit developments and conditional and special uses, if the criteria for their approval have been satisfied;
(b) Density of residential development in urban growth areas; and
(c) Availability and adequacy of public facilities identified in the comprehensive plan, if the plan or development regulations provide for funding of these facilities as required by chapter 36.70A RCW.
(3) During project review, the local government or any subsequent reviewing body shall not reexamine alternatives to or hear appeals on the items identified in subsection (2) of this section, except for issues of code interpretation. As part of its project review process, a local government shall provide a procedure for obtaining a code interpretation as provided in RCW 36.70B.110.
(4) Pursuant to RCW 43.21C.240, a local government may determine that the requirements for environmental analysis and mitigation measures in development regulations and other applicable laws provide adequate mitigation for some or all of the project's specific adverse environmental impacts to which the requirements apply.
(5) Nothing in this section limits the authority of a permitting agency to approve, condition, or deny a project as provided in its development regulations adopted under chapter 36.70A RCW and in its policies adopted under RCW 43.21C.060. Project review shall be used to identify specific project design and conditions relating to the character of development, such as the details of site plans, curb cuts, drainage swales, transportation demand management, the payment of impact fees, or other measures to mitigate a proposal's probable adverse environmental impacts, if applicable.
(6) Subsections (1) through (4) of this section apply only to local governments planning under RCW 36.70A.040.


IntentFindings1995 c 347 §§ 404 and 405: "In enacting RCW 36.70B.030 and 36.70B.040, the legislature intends to establish a mechanism for implementing the provisions of chapter 36.70A RCW regarding compliance, conformity, and consistency of proposed projects with adopted comprehensive plans and development regulations. In order to achieve this purpose the legislature finds that:
(1) Given the extensive investment that public agencies and a broad spectrum of the public are making and will continue to make in comprehensive plans and development regulations for their communities, it is essential that project review start from the fundamental land use planning choices made in these plans and regulations. If the applicable regulations or plans identify the type of land use, specify residential density in urban growth areas, and identify and provide for funding of public facilities needed to serve the proposed development and site, these decisions at a minimum provide the foundation for further project review unless there is a question of code interpretation. The project review process, including the environmental review process under chapter 43.21C RCW and the consideration of consistency, should start from this point and should not reanalyze these land use planning decisions in making a permit decision.
(2) Comprehensive plans and development regulations adopted by local governments under chapter 36.70A RCW and environmental laws and rules adopted by the state and federal government have addressed a wide range of environmental subjects and impacts. These provisions typically require environmental studies and contain specific standards to address various impacts associated with a proposed development, such as building size and location, drainage, transportation requirements, and protection of critical areas. When a permitting agency applies these existing requirements to a proposed project, some or all of a project's potential environmental impacts will be avoided or otherwise mitigated. Through the integrated project review process described in subsection (1) of this section, the local government will determine whether existing requirements, including the applicable regulations or plans, adequately analyze and address a project's environmental impacts. RCW 43.21C.240 provides that project review should not require additional studies or mitigation under chapter 43.21C RCW where existing regulations have adequately addressed a proposed project's probable specific adverse environmental impacts.
(3) Given the hundreds of jurisdictions and agencies in the state and the numerous communities and applicants affected by development regulations and comprehensive plans adopted under chapter 36.70A RCW, it is essential to establish a uniform framework for considering the consistency of a proposed project with the applicable regulations or plan. Consistency should be determined in the project review process by considering four factors found in applicable regulations or plans: The type of land use allowed; the level of development allowed, such as units per acre or other measures of density; infrastructure, such as the adequacy of public facilities and services to serve the proposed project; and the character of the proposed development, such as compliance with specific development standards. This uniform approach corresponds to existing project review practices and will not place a burden on applicants or local government. The legislature intends that this approach should be largely a matter of checking compliance with existing requirements for most projects, which are simple or routine, while more complex projects may require more analysis. RCW 43.21C.240 and 36.70B.030 establish this uniform framework and also direct state agencies to consult with local government and the public to develop a better format than the current environmental checklist to meet this objective.
(4) When an applicant applies for a project permit, consistency between the proposed project and applicable regulations or plan should be determined through a project review process that integrates land use and environmental impact analysis, so that governmental and public review of the proposed project as required by this chapter, by development regulations under chapter 36.70A RCW, and by the environmental process under chapter 43.21C RCW run concurrently and not separately.
(5) RCW 36.70B.030 and 36.70B.040 address three related needs with respect to how the project review process should address consistency between a proposed project and the applicable regulations or plan:
(a) A uniform framework for the meaning of consistency;
(b) An emphasis on relying on existing requirements and adopted standards, with the use of supplemental authority as specified by chapter 43.21C RCW to the extent that existing requirements do not adequately address a project's specific probable adverse environmental impacts; and
(c) The identification of three basic land use planning choices made in applicable regulations or plans that, at a minimum, serve as a foundation for project review and that should not be reanalyzed during project permitting." [ 1995 c 347 § 403.]
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