Planning Codes & Standards
The Planning Department is responsible for amending and updating the City's land development regulations. Development regulations in the Snohomish Municipal Code are found within Title 14.
Development regulations are intended to implement and be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan goals and policies. Proposed amendments to the development code are first considered at a public hearing by the Planning Commission, which makes a recommendation to the City Council. The City Council typically holds a second public hearing before taking action on a code amendment. All development code amendments are adopted by City Council ordinance.
Amendments to the development code may be initiated by the City Council, the Planning Commission, staff, or citizens.
Permit Review Process Code Amendment
The review process code amendment will involve changes to several chapters of the land use development code (Title 14), for the main purpose of improving clarity for the reader. These improvements will make the permit review process easier to understand and administer, which will help developers, neighbors, staff, and the public.
The City currently has 6 permit types. These are organized based on steps required in the review process, and are confusing for the applicant as well as staff. The proposed amendment will recategorize these into 5 types based on the review authority and the appeal process. Permit types are discussed throughout Title 14, so there are a lot of very small changes necessary in order to make this fix.
Some existing chapters will be repealed under this amendment, because they contain redundant and confusing language. The regulations contained in these chapters will be combined and listed in one place.
Perhaps the most substantial proposed change is to the Administrative Development Plan, which is a type of land use permit where the components of a proposed development site, including building setbacks, parking, landscaping, proposed uses, utilities, and public improvements are reviewed for consistency with applicable codes. Right now the code only requires this permit in certain land use zones, which allows much of the commercial and industrial development in town to be processed with a simple building permit—with no notice requirements. Staff is proposing to change this permit so that it is applicable to all development except single family, and also change the name to Site Development Plan, since that’s what it is.
Below is a list of affected chapters. The complete draft language can be found here. The Planning Commission is scheduled to discuss these amendments on September 6th, with a public hearing on November 1st. The City Council is scheduled to review the amendments before the end of this year. Please contact Brooke Eidem with any questions you may have on these proposed legislative changes.
14.15 Amendments to the Comprehensive Plan, Land Use Map, and Development Code
14.20 Permit Classifications and Development Review Process (NEW)
14.55 Conditional Use Permits
14.65 Site Development Plans
14.80 Non-Conforming Uses and Structures
14.25 Type 1 Permits
14.30 Type 2 Permits
14.35 Type 3 Permits
14.40 Type 4 Permits
14.45 Type 5 Permits
14.50 Type 6 Permits
14.55 Provisions Applicable to All Permits
14.82 Non-Conforming Structures
Chapters containing minor amendments:
14.205 Permitted Land Uses
14.220 Planned Residential Developments
14.225 Design Standards in the Historic District
14.230 Design Standards Outside the Historic District
All of the above contain references to Permit Types that will be changed
The Land Use Development Code, Title 14 of the Snohomish Municipal Code (SMC), authorizes the Planning Director to interpret the code where it is unclear or contradictory and to determine whether a land use is allowed when the land use tables don’t anticipate that use. The Director must issue a written interpretation to formalize that determination in order to establish a clear precedent. This authority and relevant rules for code interpretations are found in SMC 14.05.050 and SMC 14.207.060.
The Director has issued a code interpretation to clear up confusion regarding the difference between a Bed & Breakfast establishment and a vacation rental (sometimes referred to as an “Airbnb”). While Bed & Breakfast establishments are regulated in Title 14 and have been since 1983, the code did not anticipate the popularity of vacation rentals so the term isn’t defined nor is the use identified in the land use tables.
The code interpretation defines “Vacation Rental” to mean the same as “Short-term Rental”. A “Vacation Rental” is a furnished dwelling unit, or room within a dwelling, or an Accessory Dwelling Unit, that is rented out on a daily or weekly basis for periods of less than 30 days. When the entire dwelling unit is rented it shall be occupied by no more than five (5) people who are travelling together as a group. When a portion of the dwelling united is rented, only one room may be rented at one time and that room may be occupied by no more than three (3) people.
Vacation Rentals will be allowed in any dwelling unit and do not require any City permits.
To download the full code interpretation click here.