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Conditional Use Permit request of Vince and Melinda Crocker re 911 14th Street


Hearing Examiner #: HE-14-PL-008
Planning #:CUP2014-00002 / VAR2014-00007
Incident #:
Filing Date:03/03/2014
City Contact:Ryan Nelson
Hearing Date: 04/09/2014
Description: Conditional Use Permit request of Vince and Melinda Crocker re 911 14th Street
Decision Date: 04/14/2014
Decision Summary:Approved with Conditions

This matter came before the Bellingham Hearing Examiner for hearing on the 9th day of April 2014 on the application of Vince and Melinda Crocker for a Conditional Use Permit to expand a non-conforming use of the property located at 911 14th Street in Bellingham.
Testimony was received from Kathy Bell, Bellingham Planning and Community Development Department; Melinda Crocker, Applicant; and Fred Wagner, Applicants' Architect.
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. Fred Wagner, Grinstad & Wagner Architects, on behalf of Vince and Melinda Crocker, applied for a Conditional Use Permit and a rear-yard setback Variance for an addition to the residential structure located at 911 14th Street. The existing non-conforming duplex unit within the structure would be relocated to new space over a new attached garage.
2. The subject property is located on 14th Street near the intersection with Taylor Avenue and across an alley from Lowell Elementary School. It is located in Area 4A of the South Hill Neighborhood and is designated Residential Single, Detached, 7,200 square feet minimum detached lot size. A Special Condition is View.
3. The property received a Conditional Use Permit in 1953 for duplex use. The property continues to contain two residential units.
4. The property contains approximately 8,625 square feet of area. The existing three-story building contains approximately 3,376 square feet. The second unit in the existing building is located on the third floor and contains approximately 924 square feet.
5. The property slopes moderately uphill from 14th Street to the alley. Most of the ground floor of the structure is below the alley grade.
6. The existing second unit is accessed by exterior stairs located at the rear of the structure.
7. The Applicants propose to add an attached garage with a second-story and a mud room at the rear of the existing structure. The second unit would be moved to the area above the garage in a space that would be approximately 529 square feet.
8. The proposed addition would not exceed the height of the existing structure.
9. The existing second unit contains two bedrooms. The relocated second unit would be a studio.
10. The property currently has uncovered parking at the rear of the property, abutting the alley. The proposed garage/second-story unit addition would be located generally in the same area as the existing parking. The garage would contain three parking stalls. An additional four open parking spaces would be located beside the garage. One of the open parking stalls would be designated for the second unit.
11. The Applicants request a variance from the rear yard setback requirements of the Bellingham Municipal Code to locate the garage addition approximately six feet from the rear property line.
12. Notice of Application for the proposal was issued on March 3, 2014.
13. BMC 20.14.020B provides that a non-conforming use may not be relocated, expanded, enlarged, or increased in intensity unless approved through issuance of a conditional use permit.
14. BMC 20.30.040F(1) requires a 10-foot rear-yard setback.
15. BMC 20.18.020 provides criteria for variance from setback requirements.
16. BMC 20.16.010 and .020 provide criteria for Conditional Use Permits.
17. BMC 20.14.020B also requires that a non-conforming use not expand beyond its current site, that it must be a permitted use in at least one general use type, and that it not be an industrial use in a residential district.
18. The proposal does not call for expansion beyond the site on which the existing non-conforming use is located.
19. The duplex use is a permitted use in the Residential Multi general use type and it is not an industrial use.
20. The existing and proposed parking for the property is accessed from the alley which dead-ends just beyond the site, at the Lowell Elementary School. Alley traffic beyond the subject site is limited to delivery traffic for the school, and not for general use by parents and others.
21. Other neighboring properties have garages located within 4.5 -- 5 feet from the rear property lines abutting the alley.
22. The relocated second unit would be accessed by an internal entry.
23. The Applicant states that they currently experience problems with school parents parking in their open parking spaces and balls from the school playground landing on vehicles parked in the open spaces. They propose to add the garage to protect their parking spaces and vehicles.
24. The Applicants/property owners currently occupy the main residential unit and they intend to continue to occupy that unit.
25. The existing structure was constructed in 1905. The Applicants' architect states that the addition will be compatible with the existing structure and the historic character of the neighborhood. The proposed plans show an addition that is in the same style as the existing residence, and that is consistent with other single-family residences in the same vicinity.
26. City staff recommends approval of the Conditional Use Permit and Variance subject to the condition set forth in the Staff Report.
27. Public comments were received for this proposal. They express concern that the parking spaces not be displaced due to the lack of parking on-street and the proximity to the school, that the addition blend in architecturally with the neighborhood, and that the single-family character of the neighborhood be maintained. One of the comments recommends that the second unit be treated as an accessory dwelling unit.
28. The relocated second unit will be substantially smaller than the existing unit. Because it is a studio unit it will have less impact on the neighborhood than the existing two bedroom unit. There will be fewer occupants in the unit, less parking demand and fewer vehicle trips. The proposed structure will be more consistent with the single-family character of the neighborhood, as the main portion of the structure will be used as one unit, while the second unit will be accessed internally and will be located in the rear of the structure. The structure will retain the appearance of a single-family residence.
29. The proposed use provides housing that is similar to an accessory dwelling unit, in an area containing a number of accessory units. It is proposed in a structure that is consistent with the character of the neighborhood. It will promote the health, safety and general welfare of the community.
30. The proposed use satisfies the purpose and intent of the Residential use type.
31. The proposed use will not be detrimental to the surrounding neighborhood. It will not significantly impact views from other properties and will not increase impacts from the existing non-conforming use.
32. There are special circumstances applicable to this property which make location of a garage on the property in compliance with setback requirements infeasible. Vehicular access is from the alley. There is a grade differential between the foundation of the structure and the alley, and the distance between the existing structure and the property line is not sufficient to accommodate standard parking stalls while maintaining the required 10-foot rear-yard setback.
33. The granting of the variance from the rear-yard setback will not be unduly detrimental to the public welfare nor injurious to the property or improvements in the vicinity. As proposed, the garage will be setback six feet from the property line. There will remain approximately 22 feet of maneuvering room for vehicles backing out of the garage. The alley dead-ends shortly beyond the subject property and is utilized primarily for deliveries to the elementary school. The reduction in the setback will not impact views from other properties. The proposed placement of the garage is not inconsistent with other garages located nearby.
34. Providing covered parking within a garage is a reasonable use of the property that would not be feasible without a variance from the rear yard setback requirement.
II. CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
1. The proposed expansion/relocation of the non-conforming duplex use satisfies the criteria in BMC 20.14.020 for approval.
2. The proposal satisfies the criteria for issuance of a Conditional Use Permit to allow the relocation/expansion of a non-conforming duplex use.
3. The proposal satisfies the criteria of BMC 20.18 for a variance from the rear-yard setback requirements to locate the attached garage addition four feet within the required rear-yard setback.
4. The proposed Conditional Use Permit and Variance should be granted, subject to the conditions set forth below.
5. 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. ORDER
A Conditional Use Permit for the relocation/expansion of the non-conforming duplex use and Variance from the required 10-foot rear-yard setback for the proposed attached garage addition are granted for the property located at 911 14th Street, subject to the following conditions:
1. The proposed addition shall be generally consistent with the plans and representations submitted by the Applicant in support of the proposal, generally as shown in Exhibit B to the Staff Report.
2. The proposed addition to the structure shall be located at least six feet from the rear property line.
3. The proposal shall comply with all other applicable regulations of the Bellingham Municipal Code, or variances obtained.

ENTERED this 14th day of April 2014.
Bellingham Hearing Examiner
________________________________
Dawn Sturwold
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