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Posted on: August 7, 2020

Preschool Code Interpretation Issued


Title 14 of Snohomish Municipal Code, the City’s land use development code, does not include preschools in its listing of allowed land uses.

As a result, the Planning Director has issued a code interpretation as provided for by SMC 14.207.060 to address this gap.

In determining whether to add preschools to the lists of allowed land uses the Director first had to determine whether preschools could fall under an already listed land use category.  The Director ultimately determined two listed land uses, elementary schools and childcare, are similar to preschools but are not the same so preschools needed to be listed separately.

The Director then had to determine how preschools differ from elementary schools and childcare facilities.  He concluded preschools differ from elementary schools primarily because they are not regulated by the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.  They differ from childcares in that their primary mission is to deliver academic learning to younger children while a childcare’s purpose is primarily to provide supervised play and socializing activities.  The code interpretation makes the differences clear through the new definition for “preschools”.

Finally, the code interpretation finds that the land use impact created by preschools would be the same or less than that of elementary schools and therefore can be regulated in the same manner as elementary schools.

As a result of the code interpretation, preschools will now be an allowed use in the following land use designation areas (the same as elementary schools):

  • Single Family Residential
  • Low Density Residential
  • Medium Density Residential
  • High Density Residential
  • Commercial
  • Business Park
  • Mixed Use

As with elementary schools, preschools will require a Conditional Use Permit if located in any of the residential areas.  They will be permitted outright in the Commercial, Business Park, and Mixed Use areas.

Click here to download the complete code interpretation.

If you want to comment on the interpretation please contact Glen Pickus, Planning Director, via email or by call him at 360-282-3173.

Any aggrieved party to this interpretation may appeal the decision to the Hearing Examiner following procedures outlined in SMC 14.75.  Appeals include a $500 filing fee and must be submitted by August 25, 2020.

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