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PDFWAC 365-196-845

Local project review and development agreements.

(1) The local Project Review Act (chapter 36.70B RCW) requires counties and cities planning under the act to adopt procedures for fair and timely review of project permits under RCW 36.70B.020(4), such as building permits, subdivisions, binding site plans, planned unit developments, conditional uses, and other permits or other land use actions. The project permitting procedures ensure that when counties and cities implement goal 7 of the act, under RCW 36.70A.020(7), applications for both state and local government permits should be processed in a timely and fair manner.
(2) Consolidated permit review process.
(a) Counties and cities must adopt a permit review process that provides for consolidated review of all permits necessary for a proposed project action. The permit review process must provide for the following:
(i) A consolidated project coordinator for a consolidated project permit application;
(ii) A consolidated determination of completeness;
(iii) A consolidated notice of application;
(iv) A consolidated set of hearings; and
(v) A consolidated notice of final decision that includes all project permits being reviewed through the consolidated permit review process.
(b) Counties and cities administer many different types of permits, which can generally be grouped into categories. The following are examples of project permit categories:
(i) Permits that do not require environmental review or public notice, and may be administratively approved;
(ii) Permits that require environmental review, but do not require a public hearing; and
(iii) Permits that require environmental review and/or a public hearing, and may provide for a closed record appeal.
(c) Local project review procedures should address, at a minimum, the following for each category of permit:
(i) What is required for a complete application;
(ii) How the county or city will provide notice of application;
(iii) Who makes the final decision;
(iv) How long local project review is likely to take;
(v) What fees and charges will apply, and when an applicant must pay fees and charges;
(vi) How to appeal the decision;
(vii) Whether a preapplication conference is required;
(viii) A determination of consistency; and
(ix) Requirements for provision of notice of decision.
(d) A project permit applicant may apply for individual permits separately.
(3) Project permits that may be excluded from consolidated permit review procedures. A local government may, by ordinance or resolution, exclude some permit types from these procedures. Excluded permit types may include:
(a) Actions relating to the use of public areas or facilities such as landmark designations or street vacations;
(b) Actions categorically exempt from environmental review, or for which environmental review has already been completed such as lot line or boundary adjustments, and building and other construction permits, or similar administrative approvals; or
(c) Other project permits that the local government has determined present special circumstances.
(4) RCW 36.70A.470 prohibits using project review conducted under chapter 36.70B RCW from being used as a comprehensive planning process. Except when considering an application for a major industrial development under RCW 36.70A.365, counties and cities may not consolidate project permit review with review of proposals, to amend the comprehensive plan, even if the comprehensive plan amendment is site-specific. Counties and cities may not combine a project permit application with an area-wide rezone or a text amendment to the development regulations, even if proposed along with a project permit application.
(5) Consolidated project coordinator.
(a) Counties and cities should appoint a single project coordinator for each consolidated project permit application.
(b) Counties and cities should require the applicant for a project permit to designate a single person or entity to receive determinations and notices about a project permit application as authorized by RCW 36.70A.100.
(6) Determination of complete application.
(a) A project permit application is complete for the purposes of this section when it meets the county's or city's procedural submission requirements and is sufficient for continued processing, even if additional information is required, or the project is subsequently modified.
(b) The development regulations must specify, for each type of permit application, what information a permit application must contain to be considered complete. This may vary based on the type of permit.
(c) For more complex projects, counties and cities are encouraged to use preapplication meetings to clarify the project action and local government permitting requirements and review procedures. Counties and cities may require a preapplication conference.
(d) Within twenty-eight days of receiving a project permit application, counties and cities must provide to the applicant a written determination of completeness or request for more information stating either:
(i) The application is complete; or
(ii) The application is incomplete and what is necessary to make the application complete.
(e) A determination of completeness or request for more information is required within fourteen days of the applicant providing additional requested information.
(f) The application is deemed complete if the county and city does not provide the applicant with a determination of completeness or request for more information within the twenty-eight days of receiving the application.
(g) The determination of completeness may include a preliminary determination of consistency and a preliminary determination of development regulations that will be used for project mitigation.
(h) Counties and cities may require project applicants to provide additional information or studies, either at the time of the notice of completeness or if the county or city requires new information during the course of continued review, at the request of reviewing agencies, or if the proposed action substantially changes.
(7) Identification of permits from other agencies. To the extent known, the county or city must identify other agencies of local, state, or federal governments that may have jurisdiction over some aspect of the application. However, the applicant is solely responsible for knowing of, and obtaining any permits necessary for, a project action.
(8) Notice of project permit application. Notice of a project permit application must be provided to the public and the departments and agencies with jurisdiction over the project permit application. It may be combined with the notice of complete application.
(a) What the notice of application must include:
(i) The date of application, the date of the notice of completion, and the date of the notice of application;
(ii) A description of the proposed project action and a list of the project permits included in the application and a list of any required studies;
(iii) The identification of other permits not included in the application that the proposed project may require, to the extent known by the county or city;
(iv) The identification of existing environmental documents that evaluate the proposed project;
(v) The location where the application and any studies can be reviewed;
(vi) A preliminary determination, if one has been made at the time of notice, of which development regulations will be used for project mitigation and of project consistency as provided in RCW 36.70B.040 and chapter 365-197 WAC;
(vii) Any other information determined appropriate by the local government;
(viii) A statement of the public comment period. The statement must explain the following:
(A) How to comment on the application;
(B) How to receive notice of and participate in any hearings on the application;
(C) How to obtain a copy of the decision once made; and
(D) Any rights to appeal the decision.
(ix) If the project requires a hearing or hearings, and they have been scheduled by the date of notice of application, the notice must specify the date, time, place, and type of any hearings required for the project.
(b) When the notice of application must be provided. Notice of application must be provided within fourteen days of determining an application is complete. If the project permit requires an open record predecision hearing, the county or city must provide the notice of application at least fifteen days before the open record hearing.
(c) How to provide notice of application. A county or city may provide notice in different ways for different types of project permits depending on the size and scope of the project and the types of permit approval included in the project permit. Project review procedures should specify as minimum requirements, how to provide notice for each type of permit. Cities and counties may use a variety of methods for providing notice. However, if the local government does not specify how it will provide public notice, it shall use the methods specified in RCW 36.70B.110 (4)(a) and (b). Examples of reasonable methods of providing notice are:
(i) Posting the property for site-specific proposals;
(ii) Publishing notice in written media such as in the newspaper of general circulation in the general area where the proposal is located, in appropriate regional or neighborhood newspapers, trade journals, agency newsletters or sending notice to agency mailing lists, either general lists or lists for specific proposals or subject areas; or in a local land use newsletter published by the local government;
(iii) Notifying public or private groups with known interest in a certain proposal or in the type of proposal being considered;
(iv) Notifying the news media;
(v) Mailing to neighboring property owners; or
(vi) Providing notice by posting the application and other documentation using electronic media such as an email and a web site.
(9) The application comment period. The comment period must be at least fourteen days and no more than thirty days from the date of notice of application. A county or city may accept public comments any time before the record closes for an open record predecision hearing. If no open record predecision hearing is provided, a county or city may accept public comments any time before the decision on the project permit.
(10) Project review timelines. Counties and cities must establish and implement a permit process time frame for review of each type of project permit application, and for consolidated permit applications, and must provide timely and predictable procedures for review. The time periods for county or city review of each type of complete application should not exceed one hundred twenty days unless written findings specify the additional time needed for processing. Project permit review time periods established elsewhere, such as in RCW 58.17.140 should be followed for those actions. Counties and cities are encouraged to consider expedited review for project permit applications for projects that are consistent with adopted development regulations and within the capacity of system wide infrastructure improvements.
(11) Hearings. Where multiple permits are required for a single project, counties and cities must allow for consolidated permit review as provided in RCW 36.70B.120(1). Counties and cities must determine which project permits require hearings. If hearings are required for certain permit categories, the review process must provide for no more than one consolidated open record hearing and one closed record appeal. An open record appeal hearing is only allowed for permits in which no open record hearing is provided prior to the decision. Counties and cities may combine an open record hearing on one or more permits with an open record appeal hearing on other permits. Hearings may be combined with hearings required for state, federal or other permits hearings provided that the hearing is held within the geographic boundary of the local government and the state or federal agency is not expressly prohibited by statute from doing so.
(12) Project permit decisions. A county or city may provide for the same or a different decision maker, hearing body or officer for different categories of project permits. The consolidated permit review process must specify which decision maker must make the decision or recommendation, conduct any required hearings or decide an appeal to ensure that consolidated permit review occurs as provided in this section.
(13) Notice of decision.
(a) The notice of decision must include the following:
(i) A statement of any SEPA threshold determination;
(ii) An explanation of how to file an administrative appeal (if provided) of the decision; and
(iii) A statement that the affected property owners may request a change in valuation for property tax purposes notwithstanding any program of revaluation.
(b) Notice of decision should also include:
(i) Any findings on which the final decision was based;
(ii) Any conditions of permit approval conditions or required mitigation; and
(iii) The permit expiration date, where applicable.
(c) Notice of decision may be in the form of a copy of the report or decision on the project permit application, provided it meets the minimum requirements for a notice of decision.
(d) How to provide notice of decision. A local government may provide notice in different ways for different types of project permits depending on the size and scope of the project and the types of permit approval included in the project permit. Project review procedures should specify as minimum requirements, how to provide notice for each type of permit. Examples of reasonable methods of providing notice of decision are:
(i) Posting the property for site-specific proposals;
(ii) Publishing notice in written media such as in the newspaper of general circulation in the general area where the proposal is located, in appropriate regional or neighborhood newspapers, trade journals, agency newsletters or sending notice to agency mailing lists, either general lists or lists for specific proposals or subject areas; or in a local land use newsletter published by the county or city;
(iii) Notifying public or private groups with known interest in a certain proposal or in the type of proposal being considered;
(iv) Notifying the news media;
(v) Mailing to neighboring property owners; or
(vi) Providing notice and posting the application and other documentation using electronic media such as email and a web site.
(e) Cities and counties must provide a notice of decision to the following:
(i) The project applicant;
(ii) Any person who requested notice of decision;
(iii) Any person who submitted substantive comments on the application; and
(iv) The county assessor's office of the county or counties in which the property is situated.
(14) Appeals. A county or city is not required to provide for administrative appeals for project permit decisions. However, where appeals are provided, procedures should allow for no more than one consolidated open record hearing, if not already held, and one closed-record appeal. Provisions should ensure that appeals are to be filed within fourteen days after the notice of final decision and may be extended to twenty-one days to allow for appeals filed under chapter 43.21C RCW.
(15) Monitoring permit decisions. Each county and city shall adopt procedures to monitor and enforce permit decisions and conditions such as periodic review of permit provisions, inspections, and bonding provisions.
(16) Code interpretation. Project permitting procedures must include adopted procedures for administrative interpretation of development regulations. For example, procedures should specify who provides an interpretation related to a specific project, and where a record of such code interpretations are kept so that subsequent interpretations are consistent. Code interpretation procedures help ensure a consistent and predictable interpretation of development regulations.
(17) Development agreements. Counties and cities are authorized by RCW 36.70B.170(1) to enter into voluntary contractual agreements to govern the development of land and the issuance of project permits. These are referred to as development agreements.
(a) Purpose. The purpose of development agreements is to allow a county or city and a property owner/developer to enter into an agreement regarding the applicable regulations, standards, and mitigation that apply to a specific development project after the development agreement is executed.
(i) If the development regulations allow some discretion in how those regulations apply or what mitigation is necessary, the development agreement specifies how the county or city will use that discretion. Development agreements allow counties and cities to combine an agreement on the exercise of its police power with the exercise of its power to enter contracts.
(ii) Development agreements must be consistent with applicable development regulations adopted by a county or city. Development agreements do not provide means of waiving or amending development regulations that would otherwise apply to a project.
(iii) Counties and cities may not use development agreements to impose impact fees, inspection fees, or dedications, or require any other financial contribution or mitigation measures except as otherwise expressly authorized, and consistent with the applicable development regulations.
(b) Parties to the development agreement. The development agreement must include as a party to the agreement, the person who owns or controls the land subject to the agreement. Development agreements may also include others, including other agencies with permitting authority or service providers. Cities and counties may enter into development agreements outside of their boundaries if the agreement is part of a proposed annexation or service agreement.
(c) Content of a development agreement. The development agreement must set forth the development standards and other provisions that apply to, govern, and vest the development, use, and mitigation of the development of the real property for the duration of the agreement. These may include, but are not limited to:
(i) Project elements such as permitted uses, residential densities, and intensity of commercial or industrial land uses and building sizes;
(ii) The amount and payment of fees imposed or agreed to in accordance with any applicable laws or rules in effect at the time, any reimbursement provisions, other financial contributions by the property owner, inspection fees, or dedications;
(iii) Mitigation measures, development conditions, and other requirements under chapter 43.21C RCW;
(iv) Design standards such as maximum heights, setbacks, drainage and water quality requirements, landscaping, and other development features;
(v) Affordable housing;
(vi) Parks and open space preservation;
(vii) Phasing;
(viii) Review procedures and standards of implementing decisions;
(ix) A build-out or vesting period for applicable standards; and
(x) Any other appropriate development requirement or procedure.
(d) The effect of development agreements. Development agreements may exercise a county's or city's authority to issue permits or its contracting authority. Once executed, development agreements are binding between the parties and their successors, including a city that assumes jurisdiction through incorporation or annexation of the area covering the property covered by the development agreement. The agreement grants vesting rights to the proposed development consistent with the development regulations in existence at the time of execution of the agreement. A permit approval issued by the county or city after the execution of the development agreement must be consistent with the development agreement. A development agreement may obligate a party to fund or provide services, infrastructure or other facilities. A development agreement may not obligate a county or city to adopt subsequent amendments to the comprehensive plan, development regulations or otherwise delegate legislative powers. Any such amendments must still be adopted by the legislative body following all applicable procedural requirements.
(e) A development agreement must reserve authority to impose new or different regulations to the extent required by a serious threat to public health and safety.
(f) Procedures.
(i) These procedural requirements are in addition to and supplemental to the procedural requirements necessary for any actions, such as rezones, street vacations or annexations, called for in a development agreement. Development agreements may not be used to bypass any procedural requirements that would otherwise apply. Counties and cities may combine hearings, analyses, or reports provided the process meets all applicable procedural requirements;
(ii) Only the county or city legislative authority may approve a development agreement;
(iii) A county or city must hold a public hearing prior to executing a development agreement. The public hearing may be conducted by the county or city legislative body, planning commission or hearing examiner, or other body designated by the legislative body to conduct the public hearing; and
(iv) A development agreement must be recorded in the county where the property is located.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 36.70A.050 and 36.70A.190. WSR 10-03-085, ยง 365-196-845, filed 1/19/10, effective 2/19/10.]
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