Hearing Examiner #: HE-14-PL-011
City Contact:Jackie Lynch
Hearing Date: 05/28/2014
Description: Conditional Use Permit request of Eric Larson re 2210 Wilson Street
Decision Date: 06/09/2014
Decision Summary:Approved with Conditions
This matter came before the Bellingham Hearing Examiner for hearing on the 28th day of May 2014 on the application of Eric Larson for a Conditional Use Permit to expand/intensify an existing non-conforming duplex use located at 2210 Wilson Street in Bellingham.
Testimony was received from Jackie Lynch, Bellingham Planning and Community Development Department; and Eric Larson, 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. Eric Larson applied for a Conditional Use Permit to expand/intensify an existing non-conforming duplex use located at 2210 Wilson Street.
2. The subject property is located between Wilson Avenue and Happy Court, and between 22nd
Streets in Area 5 of the Happy Valley Neighborhood. This area is designated Residential Single, detached, cluster attached, 5,000 square feet per unit minimum detached lot size, 3,750 square feet per unit minimum attached lot size, maximum two units cluster attached, one bedroom maximum per 1,000 square feet of land. A Special Condition states that existing duplexes established prior to adoption of the neighborhood plan in 2001 are permitted.
3. The property is legally described as Lot C, Happy Court Short Plat. The short plat was approved in 1984 with four lots with one duplex for each lot. Lot C contains approximately 5,966 square feet. The zoning designation in 1984 required a minimum lot size of 7,500 square feet per lot, or 3,750 square feet per unit.
4. In 1974, the property which is now the Happy Court Short Plat had received a Conditional Use Permit to construct eight units in four detached buildings, with each building on 6,000 square feet. The zoning at that time was Residential duplex, with multi-family development allowed with a conditional use permit. The subject duplex was constructed in 1976
5. In 1987, a building permit was issued to construct a garage on the south side of the duplex at 2210 Wilson Street. Sometime during the 1990s the driveway leading to this garage was eliminated.
6. Beginning in the mid-1990s, the City began receiving complaints that the garage had been converted to a residential unit without permits. Enforcement actions were undertaken and permits for corrective action were issued but expired for lack of activity. Another complaint that the garage had been illegally converted to a third unit was received in 2004. In 2012, the City received another complaint that the owner was renting out the garage as a living unit. The owner of the property applied for permits to remodel the garage into a bedroom and bathroom. Plans for this remodel included a bathroom, kitchenette and a loft area. City staff discovered a lockable door had been installed between the garage and the adjoining duplex unit and a separate unit number had been installed at a separate entrance into the garage. The plan was not approved and permits were not issued. In 2013, new plans were submitted.
7. City staff concluded that expansion of the duplex to include a bedroom in the garage had not been permitted and that it required a conditional use permit to expand/intensify the existing non-conforming use.
8. Subsequent to City staff's review and determination of the status of the converted garage this application was submitted to expand/intensify the non-conforming duplex by converting the garage into a bedroom for the duplex unit to which it is attached.
9. The Applicant acquired the property after the initial conversion of the garage into a separate unit/living space and at the time of the purchase he was unaware that it had been converted without permits.
10. The proposal would add a legal bedroom and bathroom to the existing duplex unit in the attached space that previously contained a garage.
11. BMC 20.14.020E provides that a conditional use permit may be granted to allow a nonconforming use to expand, enlarge, or increase in intensity provided that the use may not expand beyond the lot, the number of residential units may not be increased, and the modification will not result in further infringement of the provisions of the land use development chapter. The nonconforming use must be a permitted use in at least one general use type, and it must not be an industrial use in a residential district.
12. A conditional use permit may be granted if it complies with the requirements of BMC 20.16.010B: it must promote the health, safety and general welfare of the community, satisfy the purpose and intent of the general use type in which it is located, and not be detrimental to the surrounding neighborhood.
13. BMC 20.16.020E lists factors that must be considered prior to granting or denying a conditional use permit.
14. Four parking spaces are provided for the duplex, not counting the converted garage, satisfying the requirement for one two-bedroom unit and one three-bedroom unit.
15. The proposal does not expand the use beyond the existing lot and does not add residential unit(s).
16. The proposal does not result in further infringement of the provisions of the land use development ordinance.
17. The three-bedroom duplex unit proposed is a permitted use in Residential Duplex and Multiple use types. It is not an industrial use.
18. City staff has recommended approval of the conditional use permit subject to the conditions set forth in the staff report.
19. One public comment was received for the proposal. It states that the permit should not be granted because the work, and conversion of the garage, was done without permits, and that remediation should be required.
20. The proposed use will promote the health, safety and general welfare of the community. A three-bedroom duplex unit is a type of housing typically found in the community. It is a housing option that may be desired by families and that may be more affordable than detached single family houses.
21. The proposed use satisfies the purpose and intent of the Residential use type. It is a residential use.
22. The proposed use will not be detrimental to the surrounding neighborhood. It does not add structure to the lot. It may add some traffic to the neighborhood if the bedroom is occupied by a person of driving age, but not more than that typically generated by a three-bedroom duplex unit. The use does provide an adequate number of parking spaces.
23. The proposal is consistent with the goals and policies of the Bellingham Comprehensive Plan. It provides for in-fill housing in an area that is already served by streets and utilities. The Special condition in the zoning regulations for this area recognized the interests of owners of existing duplexes in maintaining those properties for duplex use.
II. CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
1. A proposal for a use or structure that was added without permits, or otherwise in violation of regulations, is considered as though the use or structure does not exist. Any use or structure that remains in violation after a permit is granted (or denied) must be remediated. The use or structure must be brought into conformance with applicable regulations unless a variance is obtained.
2. The proposal to convert the existing garage into a bedroom/bathroom for the duplex unit to which it is attached is consistent with the requirements of BMC 20.14.020, 20.16.020, and the Comprehensive Plan.
3. The conditional use permit should be granted 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 Conditional Use Permit is granted for conversion of the attached garage at 2210 Wilson Street to a bedroom/bathroom suite for the duplex unit to which it is attached, subject to the following conditions:
1. The owner shall obtain a building permit, and any other necessary permits, for any work that remains and that was previously done without a permit, and for any work required to complete the proposal. The work and structure shall comply with all applicable provisions of the Bellingham Municipal Code and building codes.
2. The owner shall execute and record a covenant running with the property, and in a form approved by the City, that includes the following conditions:
a. The subject property is limited to one duplex (two residential units.)
b. At no time shall the converted garage area be used as a separate residential unit or rented out separately from the main portion of the unit to which it is attached.
c. The converted garage area shall maintain an entry/exit from/to the interior of the main portion of the duplex unit at all times.
3. Use of the property shall comply with all other applicable provisions of the Bellingham Municipal Code.
ENTERED this 9th
day of June 2014.
Bellingham Hearing Examiner