Title 17G Administration and Procedures
Chapter 17G.020 Comprehensive Plan Amendment Procedure
A pre-application conference is required in order to give the applicant and staff an opportunity to explore options for addressing the applicant’s proposed amendment. During the pre-application conference, staff will work with the applicant to consider which aspect of the planning and economic development services department’s work program would be the most appropriate arena for addressing their proposal. Staff and the applicant will also explore approaches to the amendment proposal that would help to make it consistent with the comprehensive plan. In addition, staff will do its best to advise the applicant on the extent of justification and documentation needed to support the application (depending on the degree the proposal varies from the comprehensive plan).
In the case of a map amendment, the applicant shall make reasonable efforts to schedule a meeting with the impacted neighborhood council(s) and document any support or concerns by said neighborhood councils(s).
Applications for threshold review initiated by the public must be submitted between September 1 and October 31 in order to be considered for inclusion in that cycle’s Annual Comprehensive Plan Amendment Work Program. Planning staff shall have 30 days following application submittal to request additional information in order to make sure the application is counter complete.
Following determination of completeness, staff will notify the applicant in writing that it is counter complete. In the case of a map amendment, staff will notify the neighborhood council(s) in which they are located.
Once the Comprehensive Plan Amendment Work Program is set by City Council and staff have received the full application(s) and fee(s), full review of proposals may begin. City staff shall notify interested city departments and agencies of all proposals on the docket and request review and comments. SEPA review and in-depth staff analysis of the proposals may require additional information and studies (such as a traffic study) which the applicant may be required to provide. Timely review is dependent on the applicant’s timely response to requests for information and studies and compliance with notice requirements. Related proposals are reviewed in groups according to 17G.020.030(H)(2) and (I)(1). Based on findings from the SEPA review and staff and agency analysis, the applicant may be required to conduct additional studies. If required studies are not completed sufficiently in advance of the end of the comment period to allow for adequate staff and public review, the Planning and Economic Development Services Director may defer consideration of those applications will be postponed until the next applicable amendment cycle.
When the review described in subsection (C) above is complete, staff sends a form of notice of application to the applicant. Applicants must complete all notice requirements 17G.020.070(D) or 17G.020.070(E) within thirty days of the date the notice of application is provided by staff. This is a combined notice, also announcing that the proposal will be reviewed under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) and comments will be accepted on environmental issues and any documents related to the proposal. If the planning and economic development services director or his/her designee decides an amendment proposal could potentially affect multiple sites, staff may require that the notice of application reference all potentially affected sites.
The public comment period initiated by the notice of application may last up to sixty days or longer and may not be less than thirty days, depending on the complexity and number of applications. During this time period each applicant must present their proposal to representatives of all neighborhood councils related to each potentially affected site. As public comment letters are received, the planning and economic development services department will input contact information into a database for later use in notifying interested parties regarding specific stages of the process.
Plan commission consideration of each amendment proposal will be conducted at public workshops held during the public comment period. Applicants will be afforded the opportunity to address the plan commission during the workshop regarding their application. In order to stay abreast of public sentiment regarding each amendment proposal, the plan commission and staff will also review public comment correspondence during this time.
Following the end of the public comment period, staff will complete the SEPA threshold determination pursuant to SMC 17E.050 and set a hearing date with the Plan Commission. Applicants must complete all notice requirements in SMC 17G.020.070 within thirty days of the date of the applicant’s receipt of the notice of Plan Commission Hearing and SEPA Determination provided by staff. If a determination of significance (DS) is made, those applications will be deferred for further consideration until the next applicable review cycle in order to allow adequate time for generating and processing the required environmental impact statement (EIS).
The combined notice of SEPA determination and notice of plan commission hearing must be published fourteen days prior to the plan commission’s hearing on the amendment proposals. If the SEPA determination on an application is appealed, the plan commission and hearing examiner hearings on the file both proceed ahead on parallel tracks. If the hearing examiner’s reversal of a planning and economic development services director’s decision regarding SEPA imposes requirements that would delay further consideration of the proposal, that application is then deferred for further plan commission consideration until the next applicable amendment cycle.
Prior to the Plan Commission hearing, staff prepares its final report, which address SEPA and provide an analysis regarding the merits of the amendment proposal. Copies of the report are provided to the applicant as well as plan commission members, and made available to any interested person for the cost of reproduction. In addition, a copy of the proposed amendment application and the staff report is sent to the Washington state department of commerce and other state agencies for their sixty-day review, per RCW 36.70A106, WAC 365-195-620.
The plan commission’s public hearing takes place after the SEPA decision has been issued. The hearing will usually occur within thirty days of the end of the public comment period.
The plan commission bases its recommendation on the guiding principles, final review criteria, public input, conclusions from any required studies, the staff report, and the SEPA determination. The plan commission’s findings, conclusions and recommendations are forwarded to the city council within thirty days of their decision on their recommendation. The plan commission’s recommendation may take the form of one of the following:
The city council considers the amendment proposals, public comments and testimony, staff report, and the plan commission’s recommendations within the context of its budget discussions, and acts on the amendment proposals prior to or at the same time as it adopts the City budget. The council may decide to approve, modify, continue consideration of or deny an amendment proposal. The council may also remand the proposal back to the plan commission for further consideration, in which case the council shall specify the time within which the plan commission shall report back with its findings and recommendations on the matter referred to it. If the council wishes to substantially modify the proposal before adopting it, the council shall hold an additional hearing on the modified version following an opportunity for public input. The council’s decision shall reflect the same decision criteria applied by the plan commission, as indicated by comments in the council’s findings on each item that factors into its decision. Proposals adopted by ordinance after public hearings are official amendments to the comprehensive plan. Denied amendments shall have to wait one year before being resubmitted unless the proposed amendment is substantially modified.
As soon as the adopted amendments become effective, the resulting text and map changes are made and reflected in information subsequently distributed to relevant parties, including the public, both in paper form and on the planning and economic development services department’s website. In addition, planning staff will maintain a running list of all comprehensive plan amendments over the years, and such list will be included as part of the comprehensive plan.
Date Passed: Monday, August 21, 2017
Effective Date: Saturday, October 7, 2017
ORD C35536 Section 8