Skip to page contents
Contact Us Site Map
You are here: Home) Government) Departments) Hearing Examiner) Case Decisions ) Case: HE-14-PL-003

Demonstration Program for Innovative Permanently Affordable Housing request of Kulshan Community Land Trust re 2939 Lafayette Street


Hearing Examiner #: HE-14-PL-003
Planning #:SUB2013-00029 / PDC2013-00011 / DRC2013-00017
Incident #:
Filing Date:11/27/2013
City Contact:Lindsay Kershner
Hearing Date: 02/12/2014
Description: Demonstration Program for Innovative Permanently Affordable Housing request of Kulshan Community Land Trust re 2939 Lafayette Street
Decision Date: 02/26/2014
Decision Summary:Recommended to Council

This matter came before the Bellingham Hearing Examiner for hearing on the 12th day of February 2014 on the application of Kulshan Community Land Trust (KCLT) for approval of a project pursuant to the Demonstration Program for Innovative Permanently Affordable Home Ownership and a three-lot short plat for property located at 2939 Lafayette Street.
Testimony was received from Lindsay Kershner and Kurt Nabbefeld, Bellingham Planning and Community Development Department; Dean Fearing, Executive Director of KCLT; Elizabeth Li, 114 W. Magnolia Street, Ste. 406; and Kurt Baumgarten, 2807 Patton Street.
In addition to the Bellingham Municipal Code and Comprehensive Plan, the following documents were considered as part of the record: See Exhibit List.
I. FINDINGS OF FACT
1. Kulshan Community Land Trust (KCLT) filed an application for approval of a project pursuant to the Demonstration Program for Innovative Permanently Affordable Home Ownership and a three-lot short plat for property it owns at 2939 Lafayette Street.
2. The subject property is legally described as Lots 9 and 10, Block 10, Eldridge's 2nd Add. To Bellingham. It is located in Area 14 of the Birchwood Neighborhood and is designated Residential Multi, Duplex, 4,000 square feet minimum lot size.
3. The property is located on the southwest corner of Lafayette and W. Indiana Streets. It currently is occupied by a single-family residence and a garage. These structures will be removed prior to the proposed development.
4. The property contains 8,960 square feet and is generally flat. It abuts the Lafayette Street right-of-way which is unimproved except for a pedestrian trail.
5. Lafayette Street abuts a steep bluff. A trail leads from the top of the bluff down to Squalicum Creek Park. The right-of-way will likely remain undeveloped. Variances have been granted for properties fronting on Lafayette Street for vehicular access from the alley.
6. W. Indiana Street abutting the property has been improved. A variance from minimum street standards was previously granted to avoid unnecessary impacts to the bluff area and trails.
7. The alley abutting the subject property is currently under construction and is proposed to be the primary access for the site.
8. KCLT proposes to divide the property into three lots. Proposed Lots 1 and 2 would be developed with attached single-family residences. Proposed Lot 3 would be developed with a detached single-family residence. Lots 1 and 2 would each contain 2,800 square feet of area. Lot 3 would contain 3,360 square feet of area.
9. KCLT proposes to utilize the provisions of BMC Chapter 20.27, the Demonstration Program for Innovative Permanently Affordable Homeownership Projects (Demonstration Program). This Chapter allows the use of alternative development standards and processes not currently allowed under existing land use regulations in order to provide opportunities to develop permanently affordable owner-occupied housing.
10. A Pre-Application conference with City Staff was conducted for the proposal on August 13, 2014. A Neighborhood Meeting was conducted on August 29, 2013. The Applications were submitted on October 9, 2013. On November 6, 2013 a Notice of Complete Application and Request for Information was sent. The requested information was submitted on November 26, 2013. Notice of Application was sent on December 13, 2013.
11. The Demonstration Program allows an earned increased density of up to 50 percent over the maximum density specified in the zoning code if 100 percent of the dwelling units in a project are provided and retained as permanently affordable owner-occupied homes, subject to eligibility requirements.
12. To be eligible for increased density under the Demonstration Program criteria the Applicant must be an organization that has as its purpose the creation and retention of owner-occupied, permanently affordable, income-qualified home-ownership; it must demonstrate experience in providing affordable housing and its ability and commitment to submit an annual report to the city council documenting all residential units, past and pending sales, and ownership by qualified home buyers. The project must create single-family residences that are owned by their occupants and it must have controls in place to ensure that the residences remain owner-occupied. The project must also have controls in place to ensure that the residences remain permanently affordable. Projects must be located within a residential single or multifamily zone within the city, but not within the Lake Whatcom watershed. Design review in accordance with BMC Chapter 20.25 is required for Demonstration Program projects.
13. Project applicants may request modification of regulatory requirements such as minimum lot sizes, street frontage, setbacks, parking requirements, lot coverage, usable open space and other regulations. To obtain modifications the Applicant must provide detailed documentation regarding the appropriateness of and the need for the modifications.
14. Project applicants may also request exemption from traffic and school impact fees and stormwater fees. Exemptions granted from transportation and school impact fees must be paid from public funds other than impact fee accounts.
15. KCLT proposes a 50 percent increase in density. The 4,000 square feet per lot density allowed in Area 14 of the Birchwood Neighborhood would allow a maximum of two lots on the site. The Applicant proposes to divide the property into three lots.
16. The Applicant also proposes a reduction in the minimum lot size from 4,000 square feet to 2,800 square feet for Lots 1 and 2 and to 3,360 square feet for Lot 3. The lot widths for Lots 1 and 2 would be 25 feet each, consistent with the requirements of BMC 18.36. The width of Lot 3 would be about 30 feet, or the remainder of the width of the site after Lots 1 and 2 are each allotted 25 feet. Interior detached lots in this zoning classification are generally required to have lot widths of at least 40 feet.
17. A reduction in the required street frontage is requested. Lots 1 and 2 would have 25 feet of frontage on an undeveloped public street rather than the required 30 feet of frontage on a developed street. Lot 3 would have at least 30 feet of frontage on Lafayette Street but the street would not be developed. All of the lots would be accessed from the developed alley.
18. The proposal requests modification of the required setbacks. Lot 1 would have a side flanking setback reduced from 10 feet from the side property line abutting W. Indiana Street to five feet from the property line. The requested front yard setback modifications are not necessary because the entire 55 feet of Lafayette Street right-of-way was dedicated from the subject property. The front yard setback for this property is at the property line abutting Lafayette Street.
19. KCLT also requests exemption from payment of traffic and school impact fees and stormwater fees.
20. KCLT is a Washington Non-profit Corporation whose purpose is to provide opportunities for low and moderate income people to secure housing that is affordable and that is controlled by the residents on a long-term basis. It has helped approximately 143 families to purchase homes on Community Land Trust land in Whatcom County.
21. KCLT proposes to use a ground lease similar to that shown in Exhibit B to the Staff Report to restrict the sale of improvements on the property to income-qualified persons at a formula-calculated price. It states that the residences will be owner-occupied as provided in covenants that will be recorded for the property.
22. The proposed residences are approximately 1,200 square feet , two-story structures. Two parking spaces per residence would be provided abutting the alley. The parking stalls would be pervious or semi-pervious grass-crete, or similar, surfaced. The residences would be oriented to Lafayette Street and the bluff, with covered porches. The structures on Lots 1 and 2 would be attached, with common wall construction.
23. Design review approval, consistent with BMC 20.25, has been issued, in DRC2013-00017, for the proposal. See Exhibit D to the Staff Report.
24. City staff has recommended approval of the Demonstration Program project and short plat, subject to conditions listed in the Staff Report. Staff recommends denial of the request to waive fees, as the City has allocated $77,527.00 of federal HOME Investment Partnership funds for this project and the fees are eligible for reimbursement from that allocation.
25. The Parks and Recreation Department has recommended minor changes to the connections between the proposed residences and the existing trail in Lafayette Street.
26. Public comment was received for the proposal. Neighbors of the property were supportive of the proposal. Concerns were expressed regarding adequacy of storage for the proposed residences and impacts on the alley, particularly parked cars blocking the alley and traffic in the alley interfering with pedestrian passage. The neighbor requested that one of the lots take access from W. Indiana Street instead of the alley.
27. The Applicant states that it agrees that additional storage should be provided for the residences and concurs with the Staff Recommendation that enclosed storage sheds should be provided for each unit.
28. The alley runs from W. Indiana Street to W. Illinois Street. Access to the residences within the block is available from each end of the alley. This access should mitigate the impact of any vehicle temporarily blocking the alley. Access to all of the lots from the alley reduces the impact of traffic on the trail located in W. Indiana Street.
II. CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
1. The Application for the Demonstration Program project and Short Plat has been processed in accordance with the provisions of BMC 20.27.040.
2. The Applicant, KCLT, is an eligible organization, consistent with the provisions of BMC 20.27.030A.
3. The proposal makes appropriate provisions to guarantee permanently affordable, owner-occupied single-family residences, in accordance with the provisions of BMC 20.27.030B and C.
4. The proposed project is located in an eligible area, as defined in BMC 20.27.030D.
5. The proposed project has received Design Review approval, in accordance with BMC 20.27.030E.
6. The Applicant has demonstrated that the requested modifications from minimum lot size and width, flanking side yard setback, and street frontage requirements are appropriate and necessary to provide three permanently affordable, owner-occupied residences on the site.
7. Traffic and school impact fees and stormwater fees should not be waived. They may be reimbursed from federal funds made available to the project for this purpose.
8. The proposal satisfies the requirements for approval of a Demonstration Program project and should be recommended for approval.
9. The proposed short plat satisfies the requirements of BMC Chapter 18.12, as modified by the provisions of BMC Chapter 20.27, contingent upon approval of the Demonstration Program project. If the Demonstration Program project is not approved the Short Plat fails to satisfy the requirements of BMC Chapter 18.12.
10. The City Council reviews the recommendation of the Hearing Examiner and the record created for the proposal and determines whether the project should be approved, approved with modifications, or rejected. The Council's action is in the form of an ordinance.
11. Any Finding of Fact that should be denominated a Conclusion of Law shall be deemed to be a Conclusion of Law. Any Conclusion of Law that should be denominated a Finding of Fact shall be deemed to be a Finding of Fact.
III. RECOMMENDATION
The Demonstration Program project proposed by KCLT for the property located at 2939 Lafayette Street is recommended for approval, subject to the following conditions:
1. The proposed development shall be consistent with the plans, specifications and other materials submitted in support of the proposal, except as modifications are required to comply with other conditions set forth herein or as required by the City Council. The proposed site plan is attached as Exhibit A.
2. The proposed lots shall be used for single-family residences. They shall be maintained as permanently affordable, owner-occupied homes. Each unit shall be occupied by a purchaser who qualifies in accordance with BMC 20.27.020A. The housing expenses for each purchaser shall be limited as provided in BMC 20.27.020B.
3. Controls shall be maintained to ensure that each of the residences remains owner-occupied by a qualified purchaser and that they remain permanently affordable, as defined by BMC 20.27.020. The ground lease and other documents establishing these controls shall be subject to the review and approval of the Director of the Planning and Community Development Department.
4. The Applicant shall submit annual reports to the City Council regarding the status of the project, including the information required in BMC 20.27.050.
5. The Applicant shall not transfer ownership of the land without prior approval of the City of Bellingham. The land may only be transferred to another qualified organization or to qualified purchasers with controls in place to ensure permanent affordability and qualified owner-occupancy.
6. All fees shall be paid for each lot prior to building permit issuance in accordance with ordinances in effect unless exemptions from the fees are granted.
7. Enclosed storage sheds shall be provided for each dwelling unit. The design and location of the storage sheds shall be subject to the review and approval of the Planning and Community Development Department.
8. Except as modifications are provided herein the project shall comply with all applicable provisions of the Bellingham Municipal Code, state and federal laws.
9. The following modifications to Bellingham Municipal Code regulations are approved:
      a. A density increase of 50 percent to allow three single-family lots/residences on the subject property.
      b. Reduction in the flanking side yard setback for proposed Lot 1 to five feet from the property line abutting W. Indiana Street.
      c. Reduction in lot sizes to 2,800 square feet for Lots 1 and 2 and 3,360 square feet for Lot 3.
      d. Reduction in lot width for proposed Lot 3 to 30 feet, or the remainder of the width of the site after Lots 1 and 2 are each allocated 25 feet of lot width.
      e. Relief from the requirement that each lot front on a developed street. Construction of Lafayette Street is not required. Vehicular access to the lots shall be from the abutting alley which shall be constructed in accordance with plans approved by the Public Works and Fire Departments. Trail improvements within the Lafayette Street right-of-way shall be as approved by the Parks and Recreation Department.
The proposed short plat should be approved, contingent upon approval by the City Council of the Demonstration Program project, subject to the following conditions:
1. The short plat shall be generally as shown in the attached Site Plan (Exhibit A), except as modifications are required to comply with the conditions set forth herein or required by the City Council, or to comply with unmodified requirements of the Bellingham Municipal Code.
2. Lots 1 and 2 shall each have a lot width of 25 feet. The width of Lot 3 shall be the remaining width of the site.
3. Lots 1 and 2 shall be developed with attached units. Common wall agreements for Lots 1 and 2 shall be recorded concurrently with the filing of the mylars and shall be shown on the face of the plat.
4. Access to the lots shall be from the abutting alley. If the alley is not constructed by the abutting property owners as required in HE-13-PW-005, the Applicant shall improve the alley and the required trail in the Lafayette Street right-of-way in accordance with plans approved by the Public Works, Parks and Recreation and Fire Departments.
5. Mitigation shall be provided for stormwater management necessary to support the proposed development based on an engineered stormwater site plan that addresses mitigation requirements of BMC 15.42 and the 2005 Department of Ecology Stormwater Management Manual for Western Washington. Mitigation is not required at this time if it is demonstrated that the total of new or replaced impervious surfaces will not exceed 5,000 square feet. Notation on the face of the plat that limits the square footage of impervious surface for future development and redevelopment within the short plat boundaries is required. Contents of the notation shall be determined by City staff.
6. Five copies of the short plat (checkprints) prepared by a licensed surveyor, a plat certificate, and plat closure sheet must be submitted to the Planning and Community Development Department for review and approval prior to submittal of mylars.
7. Covenants or other documentation that guarantee the residences are permanently affordable and owner-occupied shall be recorded concurrent with the short plat.
8. A licensed land surveyor must prepare and submit two signed mylar copies of the plat based upon a record of survey and staff's review of the checkprints. At a minimum, the signature of any person having a vested interest in the subject property shall be on the mylar document.
9. A per lot filing fee, as established by ordinance, must be paid to the City prior to final short plat approval. The current established fee is $106.00 per lot, requiring a total payment of $318.00. The filing of the mylars will change the legal description of the property to Lots 1-3, Kulshan CLT Short Plat.
10. The City may impose additional conditions if it is found that sufficient information was not presented with the application and/or such conditions are necessary to comply with the Bellingham Municipal Code.
11. The short subdivision application and preliminary approval will expire three years from the date of the decision of the City Council approving the Demonstration Program project upon which this short plat approval is contingent, unless the plat is recorded at the Whatcom County Auditor's Office within that time period.
12. The division and development of the property shall comply with all other applicable regulations of the Bellingham Municipal Code, except as modifications are granted herein and in the Demonstration Program project approval.
13. A condition shall be placed on the face of the plat stating that all development occurring on the lots shall comply with this decision, and as it may be amended.
14. If the City Council does not approve the Demonstration Program project this short plat shall not be approved.

ENTERED this 26th day of February 2014.
Bellingham Hearing Examiner
________________________________
Dawn Sturwold
Top of Page ^ Top of page