Hearing Examiner #: HE-13-PL-032
City Contact:Brian Smart
Hearing Date: 10/09/2013
Description: Conditional Use Permit request of Eric Fulbright re 2400 Lafayette Street
Decision Date: 10/25/2013
Decision Summary:Approved with conditions.
This matter came before the Bellingham Hearing Examiner for hearing on the 9th day of October 2013 on the application of Sid Nesbitt on behalf of Eric Fulbright for a Conditional Use Permit to expand a non-conforming use/structure on property located at 2400 Lafayette Street in Bellingham.
Testimony was received from Brian Smart, Bellingham Planning and Community Development Department; Sid Nesbitt, Applicant's Representative; and Eric Fulbright, Applicant.
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. Sid Nesbitt applied for a Conditional Use Permit on behalf of Eric Fulbright to add approximately 171 square feet of space onto an existing non-conforming structure/use used as a detached accessory dwelling unit on property located at 2400 Lafayette Street.
2. The property is legally described as Lots 1-2, Block 2, Holly Addition to Whatcom. It is located in Area 3 of the Columbia Neighborhood which is designated Residential Single, Detached, 5,000 square feet minimum detached lot size. Special conditions include flood, shoreline, clearing and historic. Special regulations for this area allow reduced setbacks for older homes in the area, allowing reductions in side and rear setbacks to the minimum allowed by the building code.
3. The property is located at the northeast corner of Lafayette Street and Monroe Street. The site is approximately 100 feet by 93.5 feet. It contains an existing main house centrally located on the property and a detached carriage house/guest house located in the northeast corner of the site abutting the alley.
4. The Applicant proposes to add an approximately eight feet by 21 feet addition, 171 square feet, to the detached guest house, which is currently 614 square feet in size.
5. The detached guest house is a non-conforming use on the property. It received a Nonconforming Use Certificate on July 3, 2012 for use as a detached accessory dwelling unit. The main house and guest house have been located on the property since at least 1910, prior to the adoption of zoning regulations for the City. The guest house has been used as a separate or accessory dwelling unit since at least the early 1950's.
6. The current zoning for the site allows only one dwelling unit to be located on the site. Attached accessory dwelling units may be added if they satisfy the requirements of BMC 20.10.
7. The proposed addition to the guest house adds living space on the westerly side of the structure, towards the main house. Work was begun on the addition without first obtaining a building permit. A stop work order was issued and the property owner was directed to seek applicable approvals before continuing the work.
8. BMC 20.14.020 allows expansion of a non-conforming use with a Conditional Use Permit if the requirements of that section are satisfied, including no further infringement of the land use development code and compliance with all other regulations, as well as the standards for conditional use permits, which are set forth in BMC 20,16.010.
9. The Applicant states that he is living in the guest house in order to remodel the main house.
10. The guest house, with the proposed addition, maintains the character of the neighborhood with multiple gables and architectural details consistent with other homes in the area.
11. City staff recommends approval of the conditional use permit subject to the condition that the property be owner-occupied, consistent with past use of the property and the non-conforming use.
12. Public comment was received from neighbors of the property. One neighbor expressed concern that work was done on the structure without a permit and that adding living space to the property's back yard would not be a plus for the neighborhood, which is already dense and has limited parking. Another neighbor indicated the accessory unit was within view of his front porch and he has found the use to be unobtrusive and the building attractive and properly scaled to the neighborhood.
13. The proposed addition is compatible with the essential character of the neighborhood, is adequately served by public facilities, will not add to vehicular congestion on neighborhood streets, create hazards or detrimental influences or damage natural, scenic or historic features. It is harmonious with the policies and objectives of the Comprehensive Plan.
14. The proposed use promotes the health, safety and general welfare of the community by upgrading an existing non-conforming use in a manner that is consistent with the neighborhood character.
15. The proposed use satisfies the purpose and intent of the Residential use type. It upgrades an existing dwelling unit.
16. The proposed use will not be detrimental to the surrounding neighborhood. The expansion is located on the interior of the property. It adds a relatively small amount of space to the footprint of the building. It does not increase the density on the site, but upgrades an existing dwelling unit.
II. CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
1. When work is performed without a permit for a structure that requires a variance or conditional use permit the application for variance or conditional use permit is reviewed based on the conditions that existed prior to the unpermitted work.
2. The subject structure/use is legally non-conforming as it was established prior to the adoption of regulations governing the use.
3. The proposal satisfies the conditional use criteria.
4. A conditional use permit should be granted to allow the proposed addition to the existing detached accessory dwelling unit, subject to the conditions set forth below.
A conditional use permit is granted to allow the proposed addition to the guest house/detached accessory dwelling unit at 2400 Lafayette Street, subject to the following conditions:
1. The addition to the structure shall be substantially as proposed and represented in the materials submitted in support of the application.
2. All necessary building permits and other approvals shall be obtained prior to commencement of work on the project.
3. At least one of the dwelling units on the property shall be owner-occupied at all times that the detached accessory dwelling unit structure (guest house) is used as a dwelling unit.
4. The proposed addition shall satisfy setback requirements of the building code and fire separation requirements of building/fire codes.
5. New construction shall comply with all other requirements of the Bellingham Municipal Code.
ENTERED this 25th
day of October 2013.
Bellingham Hearing Examiner