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Cluster Subdivision and Variance requests of Hank and Alice Wiebe re 629 E. Bakerview Road (aka Halice Court Plat)


Hearing Examiner #: HE-13-PL-017
Planning #:SUB2013-00002 /SEP2013-00003 / VAR2013-00002 / CAP2013-00002
Incident #:
Filing Date:05/20/2013
City Contact:Kathy Bell
Hearing Date: 06/26/2013
Description: Cluster Subdivision and Variance requests of Hank and Alice Wiebe re 629 E. Bakerview Road (aka Halice Court Plat)
Decision Date: 07/10/2013
Decision Summary:Approved with conditions.

This matter came before the Bellingham Hearing Examiner on the 26th day of June 2013 for hearing on the application of Hank and Alice Wiebe for Preliminary Plat approval with variances for property located at 629 E. Bakerview Road in Bellingham.
Testimony was received from Kathy Bell, Bellingham Planning and Community Development Department; Ali Taysi, Applicant's Representative; Ramon Llanos, Applicant's Engineer; and Doug Smith, 585 E. Bakerview Road.
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. Hank and Alice Wiebe applied for Preliminary Plat approval for a 20-lot cluster plat, known as the Halice Court Plat, on property located at 629 E. Bakerview Road in Bellingham. Variances from street standards and utility abutment were also requested.
2. The subject property consists of approximately 5.5 acres located east of Deemer Road on the south side of E. Bakerview Road. It is located in Area 20 of the Meridian Neighborhood and is designated Residential Single, Planned, 10,000 square feet per unit. Special Conditions include access, drainage, wetlands and buffers. Special density bonus regulations apply.
3. The procedural history of the application is set forth in the Staff Report, which is incorporated herein by reference.
4. The property contains an existing single-family residence and an accessory building constructed in the mid-1990s. These buildings are located in the southerly portion of the property. A long driveway connects the residence to E. Bakerview Road.
5. Cammack Creek and an associated wetland run through the southeastern portion of the property.
6. Single-family residences on large parcels are located to the west of the property. Open land and the Bakerview Nursery are located to the east. To the south is wetland and a recent residential subdivision, Creekside Cove, accessed from Deemer Road and Harman Way. To the southwest, at Deemer Road and Bellis Fair Parkway, is a Bellingham Fire Station.
7. The Applicants propose to divide the property into 20 single-family residential lots and four stormwater/open space tracts. The existing residence and accessory building would remain on Lot 20 which would contain approximately 48,597 square feet of area. Lots 1 -- 19 would each contain between 4,225 and 6,000 square feet of area. The lots would be accessed by a new street in the location of the existing driveway. The street would run north/south abutting Lots 1 -- 7 and 13 -- 19 and east/west abutting lots 8 -- 12 and 20. The east/west portion of the street would provide connectivity to the properties to the east and west.
8. The Applicants also requested variances from street and utility requirements to allow reduction in the required street width from 60 feet to 50 feet, to allow the street to have sidewalks on only one side of the street, and to allow Lots 8 -- 12 and 20 to be served by private side sewer services rather than extending a City sewer main across the full frontage of those lots.
9. The proposal provides 15.7% open space in two tracts. Tract B is the required 80-foot buffer for the wetland located to the west of the site. Tract C includes Cammack Creek and its required 75-foot buffer.
10. A recently approved short plat provides for the extension of a cul-de-sac to terminate Harman Way south of the subject property and the wetland located between the subject property and the short plat. Harman Way was previously intended to connect through or adjacent to this property to provide a through route from Deemer Road to Bakerview Road. Subsequent environmental analysis determined that extension of the road would run through regulated wetlands.
11. A water main is located in E. Bakerview Road but it does not have sufficient pressure to serve the property. Service is proposed to come from the Cordata Pressure zone with a water main extension from the Prince/Landon Avenue intersection. Water mains will be extended across the full frontage of each lot and the E. Bakerview frontage of the plat.
12. A City sewer main is proposed to be extended from the existing main in E. Bakerview Road. This main is not sufficiently deep to provide gravity service to the site unless the site is elevated. Spoils from the site will be used to increase the elevation of Lots 6 -- 14 to allow for gravity sewer service. The existing residence will be served by the new main extension but pumps will be required for this service. The sewer main extension will not serve any other properties due to grade differentials and the location of wetlands.
13. Stormwater facilities are required in accordance with BMC 15.42.
14. A Critical Areas Permit is required for the development of this property. Application for the permit has been filed with the City. The permit will be reviewed and issued by the Planning and Community Development Department. Additional on-site mitigation requirements may require minor modifications to the proposal.
15. The North Bellingham Trail Plan in the Comprehensive Plan shows a trail near this site. The Applicants propose to provide a trail connection with a sidewalk on the internal through street.
16. A trail easement is located within the Creekside Cove plat and the Heutink short Plat to the south of the property. The public access easement recommended by City staff for this plat would provide for future connections to the trail easements provided in the developments to the south.
17. Requirements for cluster plats are set forth in BMC 18.32. These regulations provide for setbacks that differ from the standard setbacks for residential development contained in BMC 20.30. A minimum of 15% open space is required and the proposal must address special conditions specified in the neighborhood plan. The total site area of the property is sufficient for the 20 lots proposed utilizing the cluster plat provisions.
18. The Applicant proposes to grant an additional five-foot easement to the City on each side of the proposed 50-foot wide right-of-way for street and utility purposes in lieu of the standard 60-foot wide right-of-way. An additional 10-foot wide easement is required for private utilities.
19. Approximately one-third of the property is encumbered by wetlands, buffers and other critical areas. The critical areas push the development onto the northern portion of the property. The property is 290 feet wide and over 800 feet deep. Reducing the width of the rights-of-way allows larger and more functional lots while the additional easement provides for fully functional residential access streets and adequate space for utilities.
20. There is adequate space within the rights-of-way and easement areas for sidewalks on both sides of the street. There are no topographical or other geological limitations that make the construction of sidewalks on both sides of the street impractical.
21. Subdivision variance criteria are set forth in BMC 18.48.
22. City staff has recommended approval of the plat subject to the conditions set forth in the Staff Report, approval of the variances from required street width and full sewer main abutment, as requested, and denial of the variance to provide sidewalks on only one side of the street.
23. The Applicants have indicated that they concur with the staff recommendations and are comfortable with the requirement to provide sidewalks on both sides of the street. They requested clarification of the requirement to provide a public access easement within the open space tract.
24. Public comment was received from property owners on the east and west sides of the property. They object to the location of a through street in the center of the plat that is designed to connect to their properties. They also request border fencing to prevent trespassing on their properties. They indicate that they do not intend to develop the adjacent properties in a manner that would utilize the proposed through street and they recommend a through connection from the property to Bellis Fair Parkway and Deemer Road.
25. The property to the west is zoned the same as the subject property. The property to the east is zoned Residential Multiple, Planned, 4,300 square feet per unit. Typically, no fencing or buffering is required between similar uses. There is no Bellingham Municipal Code requirement for fencing a single-family residential plat bordering other residentially zoned property except as may be required to protect critical areas or public facilities, or for public safety. Given the undeveloped nature of the abutting properties, however, clear marking of the property boundaries to discourage trespassing is appropriate.
26. The Bellingham Comprehensive Plan provides that residential access streets should be designed to provide continuous or unobstructed flow of traffic through and within the neighborhood and that cul-de-sacs should be located only where dead-end streets are desirable and consistent with subdivision regulations.
27. E. Bakerview Road is a primary arterial. The purpose of the internal through street within the proposed plat is to provide connectivity between residential properties and to reduce the use of arterials for neighborhood circulation. It also provides for pedestrian connections within the neighborhood.
28. Although a through connection aligned with Bellis Fair Parkway may provide better opportunities to connect and improve the circulation system there are impediments to the construction of that street, including the wetlands and buffers located along the route and the impact of the alignment on the Bellingham Fire Station on Deemer Road at the Bellis Fair Parkway intersection.
29. The location of the proposed through street is consistent with the requirements of BMC Title 18 and the policies of the Comprehensive Plan. Although it may not be consistent with the ideas currently being considered by neighboring property owners for their properties, it is located centrally to the subject property, within the maximum distance permitted for a block and can be physically constructed to the east and west. Whether the neighboring properties will be developed as described by the property owners, or in a manner providing for connectivity will not be known until development plans have been submitted and approved.
30. Reduction in the right-of-way width from 60 to 50 feet will provide for larger and more functional lots and result in a better lot design, and will not be detrimental to the public or other properties, provided additional easements are granted to the City for street and utility purposes.
31. The Applicants have not demonstrated that the variance criteria have been satisfied for the proposal to construct sidewalks on only one side of the streets. There is adequate space within the right-of-way and easement area for sidewalks on both sides of the street. The proposal would not provide a better plat design and it would impair pedestrian circulation in and through the plat.
32. The area in which the property is located is served by the Bellingham School District and Whatcom Transportation Authority. Impact fees are collected from developments for schools, transportation facilities and parks.
33. Subject to the conditions set forth below the proposal makes appropriate provisions for the public health, safety, and general welfare and for open spaces, drainage ways, streets and other public ways, transit stops, potable water supplies, sanitary waste, parks and recreation. Playgrounds, schools, sidewalks, safe walking conditions for students, and other appropriate facilities.
34. The proposed plat will serve the public use and interest.
II. CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
1. The variance criteria have been satisfied for the reduction in street width, subject to the provision of additional easements, and for relief from the requirement to fully abut a sewer main for the southerly lots, subject to the conditions set forth below.
2. The proposal, with variances from the street width and sewer main frontage requirements, is consistent with the requirements of the Bellingham Municipal Code for cluster plats.
3. Subject to the conditions set forth below the preliminary cluster plat should be approved.
4. Any Finding of Fact that should be denominated as 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. ORDER
The Preliminary Cluster Plat: Halice Court Plat, is approved, with variances from street width and sewer main frontage requirements, subject to the following conditions:
VARIANCES
1. Lots 8 -- 12 and 20 are not required to fully abut a public sewer main. Individual private services are required for each lot and shall be placed on private property in a private easement. All other lots shall fully abut a public sewer main.
2. The right-of-way width for the newly constructed streets may be reduced to 50 feet provided a five-foot exclusive easement adjacent to the full length of the right-of-way, on both sides of the right-of-way, is granted to the City on the face of the plat.
3. The requested variance to allow sidewalks on only one side of the streets is denied.
GENERAL PLAT REQUIREMENTS
1. The plat shall contain no more than 20 single family residential lots and shall be generally as shown on the attached Exhibit A, except as modifications may be required to comply with the conditions set forth herein or Bellingham Municipal Code requirements. Further division of parcels contained within the plat shall comply with plat alteration provisions and zoning and cluster plat requirements existing at the time of division. No parcel may be divided in a manner that increases the overall maximum density of the plat above that permitted by the zoning and cluster plat provisions. A note shall be placed on the face of the plat indicating that further subdivision of any parcel must satisfy overall density restrictions for the cluster plat.
2. Each lot shall contain at least 4,000 square feet of site area exclusive of area designated as required open space. At least 4,000 square feet of usable area shall be provided for each lot.
3. Lot design shall conform to the requirements of BMC 18.32.
4. A minimum of 15% of the total site area shall be set aside as open space as provided below.
5. Development of the property shall be consistent with the provisions of BMC Titles 13, 15, 16, 18, and 20, and with the description of the proposal contained in the Determination of Non-significance, except as otherwise provided herein.
6. Development of the property shall be consistent with the terms and conditions of the applicable Critical Areas Permit (CAP2013-00002).
7. Preliminary Plat approval shall expire as provided in RCW 58.17.
8. Heavy equipment work shall be limited to the hours between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
9. Impact/Subdivision fees for transportation, schools and parks shall be paid in accordance with applicable BMC requirements.
10. Design and construction of the plat and improvements thereon and development of the lots shall comply with all applicable requirements of the Bellingham Municipal Code.
11. All required easement documents shall be reviewed and approved by the Planning and Public Works Departments and the Office of the City Attorney.
12. Minor amendments may be approved by the Technical Review Committee as specified in BMC 18.20.020.
CONDITIONS FOR FINAL PLAT APPROVAL
The following conditions shall be satisfied and improvements accepted by the City prior to final plat approval. Financial surety may be accepted as provided in BMC 18.28.020.
      A. Public Infrastructure.
          1. E. Bakerview Road shall be constructed to City standard of a 5 lane primary arterial with a setback sidewalk.
          2. A 10 foot wide strip of land along the entire E. Bakerview Road frontage shall be dedicated to the City for right-of-way purposes on the face of the plat.
          3. The residential access streets shall be dedicated to the City with a 50 foot wide right-of-way generally in the location as shown on Exhibit A. An exclusive five foot wide utility easement shall be granted to the City adjacent to both sides of the rights-of-way. The easements shall be extended to the eastern and western plat boundaries.
          4. The residential access streets shall be constructed to full City standard of a 28 foot street with vertical curbs and sidewalks on both sides. All sidewalks shall have a minimum width of five feet. Setback sidewalks are encouraged.
          5. All street improvements shall be designed, located and installed in accordance with plans and specifications approved by the Public Works and Fire Departments. The Public Works Department may require the installation of appropriate signage and/or barriers at the termination of the east/west street to prevent trespassing on abutting properties.
          6. All utilities, including public water and sewer, electrical, gas, phone, and cable, shall be installed across the full frontage of each lot in accordance with plans and specifications approved by the Public Works Department, except that Lots 8-12 and 20 do not have to fully abut on a public sewer main. Private side sewer services connecting to the sewer main shall be provided for those lots not fully abutting a sewer main. Private sewer services are prohibited in the public right-of-way. All utilities shall be installed underground. Easements shall be provided for private services and include allowance for maintenance of the services.
          7. The existing residence on Lot 20 shall connect to the sewer main. The existing onsite septic system shall be abandoned in accordance with Whatcom County Health Department regulations.
          8. A public water main serving the plat shall be extended from the Cordata Pressure zone in accordance with engineered drawings approved by the City.
          9. All streetlights and street signs shall be installed in accordance with engineered drawings approved by the City.
          10. A clearing and grading plan for the property, including rights-of-way, shall be submitted for review and approval of the Planning Department concurrent with review of civil drawings for the infrastructure.
          11. Stormwater management shall be provided in accordance with BMC 15.42. The design, location and specifications for stormwater management faciiities shall be submitted for review and approval of the Planning and Public Works Departments concurrent with review of civil drawings. Easements shall be provided on Lot 20 to the City for maintenance and operation of the facilities. Stormwater detention facilities shall be provided in separate tracts and shall be dedicated to the City unless the City determines the design does not meet the City's maintenance requirements. Landscaping for the ponds shall be provided consistent with Section C of this approval.
          12. The design and location of any retaining wall supporting public or private infrastructure constructed of concrete or block material exposed greater than two feet above grade shall be submitted for review and approval of the Planning and Public Works Departments. Concrete walls shall be finished with a material that will hide form panel seams and tie holes and be designed to blend visually with the site. Any block wall shall be textured.
          13. The rear property lines of Lots 1-7 and 13-19, and the exterior side property lines of Lots 8 and 12 shall be clearly marked to discourage trespassing onto adjacent properties during development and use of the lots.
      B. OPEN SPACE
          1. At least 15% of the total site area shall be set aside as open space generally as shown on Exhibit A. Required open space shall be placed in a conservation easement. A public access easement for trail purposes, in a form and location as determined by the Planning and Parks Departments, shall be provided within that portion of the open space area shown as Tract C on Exhibit A. The required open space shall be located and designed to preserve natural resources on the site.
          2. The required open space may be placed in separate tracts to be privately owned and maintained, or consolidated into adjacent lot(s). If the open space is placed in separate tracts CCRs shall be recorded concurrently with the plat to define ownership and maintenance obligations in perpetuity. Consolidation of the open space tracts with the ownership of Lot 20 is encouraged.
          3. Restoration and fencing of the open space areas shall be completed in accordance with an approved Critical Areas Permit (CAP2013-00002)
          4. Any portion of the site that is necessary to provide stormwater management in accordance with BMC 15.42 shall not count as required open space.
      C. LANDSCAPING
          1. A minimum of one street tree for every 50 feet of street frontage within the plat and along E.Bakerview Rd. shall be installed in accordance with a Street Tree Permit approved by the City. Bonding may be accepted in lieu of installation for a time period not to exceed one year due to seasonal restrictions. A street tree permit application shall be reviewed concurrently with engineered drawings for the proposal to ensure that there are no utility conflicts with the proposed tree locations.
          2. The stormwater detention facilities shall be landscaped adjacent to Lots 9-12 unless a 6 foot cedar fence is installed along the rear of the lots abutting the stormwater tracts. If landscaping is provided it shall be located outside any required fencing or berms in an area having no depth less than 10 feet adjacent to any residential lot. The plant material shall consist of a mixture of drought resistant native trees, shrubs and ground cover, in accordance with a landscape plan approved by the Planning and Public Works Departments.
          3. Surety in the form of a bond or assignment of funds, in a form approved by the Planning Department, for 150% of the total cost of implementing the open space and detention facility plantings shall be provided. The amount of the surety shall be based on a current estimate for all work, including, but not limited to, plant materials, installation, maintenance for five years, and any other contingency requirements. The estimates shall be approved by the Planning Department prior to submission of the surety. The surety shall be approved by the Planning Department prior to final plat approval.
      D. GENERAL
          1. The requirements set forth in BMC 18.20 shall be completed.
          2. Mailboxes shall be installed as approved by the U.S. Postal Service. The approved location shall not interfere with the placement and design of required sidewalks and traffic.
          3. Monumentation shall be as required in BMC 18.28.180.
          4. The following shall be shown on the face of the plat:
              a. Setbacks
              b. Joint utility easements
              c. Prohibited vehicular access to E. Bakerview Road.
              d. Conservation/public access easement areas and open space tracts.
              e. Right-of-way dedication and all public easements necessary to support the plat.
              f. A ten foot wide easement adjacent to public rights-of-way reserved for utility purposes.
              g. A note stating that all lots are subject to those conditions set forth in this Order, and as may be amended.
              h. A note as specified in General Plat Requirements, No. 1.
LOT DEVELOPMENT REQUIREMENTS
Individual lot development shall be subject to the following conditions:
1. Setbacks
      a. Front setback: 15 feet measured from the property line abutting a right-of-way. The yard adjacent to the property line abutting E. Bakerview Road shall be considered a side yard and not the front yard for Lots 1 and 19.
      b. Side and Side Yard on a flanking street setback: 5 feet measured from the property line.
      c. Rear setback: 15 feet measured from the property line.
      d. Garage: the garage must be setback at least 20 feet from the back of the adjacent curb or sidewalk (whichever is closer) measured to the face of the garage door.
2. Parking
Two parking spaces are required for each lot and may be provided in accordance with BMC 18.32.040.

ENTERED this 10th day of July 2013.
Bellingham Hearing Examiner
________________________________
Dawn Sturwold
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