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Setback Variance request of COB re 2221 Pacific Street

Hearing Examiner #: HE-14-PL-021
Planning #:VAR2014-00011
Incident #:
Filing Date:03/19/2014
City Contact:Jackie Lynch
Hearing Date: 05/14/2014
Description: Setback Variance request of COB re 2221 Pacific Street
Decision Date: 05/23/2014
Decision Summary:Approved with condtions.

This matter came before the Bellingham Hearing Examiner for hearing on the 14th day of May 2014 on the application of the City of Bellingham Public Works Department for a variance from setback requirements of the Bellingham Municipal Code to locate a rainwater storage tank adjacent to the Carolina Street property line at the Public Works Operations facility located at 2221 Pacific Street.
Testimony was received from Jackie Lynch, Bellingham Planning and Community Development Department; and James Simpson and Anitra Accetturo, Bellingham Public Works Department.
In addition to the Bellingham Municipal Code and Comprehensive Plan, the following documents were considered as part of the record: See Exhibit List.

1. The City of Bellingham Public Works Department applied for a variance from setback requirements to locate a rainwater tank on City property located at 2221 Pacific Street adjacent to the Carolina Street property line.
2. The subject property is legally described as Lot A, Central Shops Short Plat. The Bellingham Public Works Department shops facility is located on the property.
3. The property is located in Area 10 of the Roosevelt Neighborhood and is designated Public, Governmental Services.
4. The Applicant proposes to construct a rainwater storage tank approximately 15 feet in diameter and 18 feet, nine inches tall. The tank would be located adjacent to Carolina Street next to the existing storage sheds. A pump box approximately four feet, by six feet, by four feet would also be located within the setback area to pump rainwater into the storage tank.
5. The proposed location for the storage tank is across Carolina Street from property designated Residential Multi, Duplex.
6. BMC 20.42.050D(1) requires a minimum yard of 20 feet from any property line abutting or across the street from land designated residential.
7. The Applicant requests a variance from this requirement to locate the storage tank within the area, approximately 20 feet in width, between the existing storage sheds and the property line.
8. A fence and an evergreen hedge are located at the property line abutting Carolina Street. Parking stalls are located on the south side of the Carolina Street right-of-way abutting the subject property.
9. Carolina Street has an 80-foot right-of-way width abutting the property. The street is developed with one travel lane in each direction as well as curbs, sidewalks, and parking strips.
10. The proposed storage tank would collect rainwater from the roofs of buildings at the Public Works facility and supply this non-potable water for use for street cleaning, vactor trucks and truck washing.
11. The proposal would implement a low impact development project funded by the City and the State Department of Ecology to conserve potable water and manage stormwater.
12. In order to efficiently collect and store the rainwater runoff the tank must be located in close proximity to the structures supplying the runoff. Due to the location of existing structures on the property the proposed location is the only feasible site for the proposed tank.
13. The storage sheds located immediately to the south of the proposed tank location are approximately 20 -- 28 feet in height, with sloped roofs. The proposed tank would not extend above the roofline of the existing storage sheds when viewed from the residential properties across Carolina Street.
14. City staff has recommended approval of the proposal subject to conditions set forth in the Staff Report.
15. One public comment was received from the owner of property across Carolina St. from the proposal, suggesting that the tank(s) be painted in a decorative fashion.
16. Variance criteria are set forth in BMC 20.18.020.
17. Other properties in the area are designated light industrial or residential multi and are not subject to the same setback regulations as the subject property. In this case, the proposed location for the storage tank is the only feasible one that would serve the intended purpose and allow for water conservation and stormwater management of the runoff from the Operations facility. Without a variance the low impact development goals articulated in the Comprehensive Plan and promoted by the proposal would not be feasible.
18. Granting the variance will not be unduly detrimental to the public welfare nor injurious to the property and improvements in the vicinity. Although the tank will be visible it will not extend above the existing storage sheds and will be in similar character to the other structures on the site. The existing hedge and fence will screen the lower portion of the tank from Carolina St. and properties to the south. Painting the tank so that it blends into the background will further mitigate the appearance of the tank.
19. Utilization of a rainwater storage tank to conserve potable water through the reuse of rainwater and manage stormwater runoff of the City's shop facilities is a reasonable use of the property, supported by the Comprehensive Plan and stormwater regulations, that would not be feasible without a variance from setback regulations to allow location of the tank close to the existing structures.
1. The proposal is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and the purpose of the Public designation of the subject property.
2. Due to the location of existing facilities on the property a variance is necessary in order to locate the proposed facility and to accomplish the water conservation and stormwater management functions desired to serve the public interest.
3. The proposal satisfies variance criteria and should be approved subject to the conditions set forth below.
4. 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.
A variance is approved to locate the proposed rainwater storage tank and associated pump box within the setback area adjacent to Carolina Street, as proposed, subject to the following conditions:
1. The tank shall be painted in a manner approved by the Planning and Community Development Department so that it blends into the background, provided that aesthetic treatments may be approved, subject to approval of the Bellingham Arts Commission.
2. The existing hedge along Carolina Street abutting the proposed tank and pump box shall be retained and maintained. Plants that die, or require replacement shall be replaced with plants providing similar function.
3. The proposed tank and pump box shall be designed, located and installed substantially as proposed. The facilities may be located with a zero setback from the Carolina Street property line provided the existing hedge is maintained. The height of the tank shall not exceed the lowest height of the storage shed roof immediately to the south.

ENTERED this 23rd day of May 2014.
Bellingham Hearing Examiner
Dawn Sturwold