Code Amendments

Code Amendments


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. 

Find links to our current codes on the Code Compliance page.

Land use tables (Chapter 14.207 SMC)

In November 2021, the City Council adopted interim zoning regulations prohibiting the establishment of new uses in the City’s commercial zones that were potentially “undesirable”.  A use is undesirable if it does not generate adequate tax revenue for the city, provide for living wage jobs and housing options, or only benefits a limited number of community members.

 

The Planning Commission will be holding a public hearing to consider permanent zoning regulations to replace the interim regulations.  That hearing will be at 6pm on Wednesday, April 6th at the Carnegie Building, 105 Cedar Avenue.  Community members can also attend remotely online or via telephone.  Information on how to do that will be included with the agenda packet.  Go to the Agenda Center to download the packet on Friday, April 1st.


At the same time the Planning Commission considers limiting the permitted uses in commercial zones, they will also be considering a staff proposal to consolidate the current nine permitted land use tables in Chapter 14.207 SMC into five tables and reducing the number of land uses in those tables by 30%; from 189 to 132.

 

Some of the currently allowed uses that the draft proposal would prohibit include the following:

  • In the Commercial zone
    • Farm product refrigeration/storage and warehousing;
    • Freight and cargo service;
    • Self-service storage;
    • Warehousing;
    • Heavy machinery and equipment;
    • Industrial and commercial machinery;
    • Recreational vehicle park;
    • Raising livestock, small animals; and
    • Jail
  • In the Midtown Districtzone
    • Places of Worship
  • In the Business Parkzone
    • Raising livestock, small animals; and
    • Mineral extraction
  • In the Historic Business Districtzone
    • Freight and cargo service
  • In the Pilchuck District Centerzone
    • Religious assembly

Click the links below to download the draft tables that the Planning Commission will be considering:

The City Council will consider the Planning Commission’s recommendation at a public hearing on Tuesday, April 19.

Rezoning Process

In November 2021, the City Council updated the Comprehensive Plan and the Land Use Development Code (Title 14 SMC) by, among other things, creating new maps; a Future Land Use Map for the Comprehensive Plan and a Zoning Map for the Land Use Development Code.

 

While Chapter 14.15 SMC already has a process for amending the Comprehensive Plan, which includes amending the Future Land Use Map, there is no process for rezoning outside of the Comprehensive Plan amendment process.

 

Staff is proposing adding a new Subsection D to Chapter 14.15 SMC to establish a rezoning process.  Click here to download the staff proposal.

 

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on a draft proposal on Wednesday, May 4.  


Fee Simple Unit Lot Subdivisions and Detached Condominiums

The Fee Simple Unit Lot Subdivision regulations (SMC 14.215.125) and the Detached Condominium regulations (SMC 14.210.215) cross-reference each other in unclear and contradictory ways.  Staff is proposing to clarify both codes and to eliminate the contradictions to make the codes easier to understand and administer.

 

Fee Simple Unit Lot Subdivisions provide an alternative subdivision process for specified housing types where traditional subdivision is not possible due to conflicts between the type of development and dimensional standards.  One purpose of this section is to provide an alternative type of ownership to condominiums.

 

Staff’s proposal is to amend the language in SMC 14.215.125 clearly stating when a Fee Simple Unit Lot Subdivision may be used and to amend SMC 14.210.215 to remove the word condominium entirely from the section.

 

Click these links to download the staff proposals:

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on draft code amendments at their April 6 meeting, which will be at 6pm at the Carnegie Building, 105 Cedar Avenue.  Community members can also attend remotely online or via telephone.  Information on how to do that will be included with the agenda packet.  Go to the Agenda Center on Friday, April 1, to download the packet.  The City Council will then consider the Planning Commission’s recommendation at a public hearing on Tuesday, May 4.

Fence and Retaining Wall maximum heights

As a result of a 2017 update of SMC 14.240.060D, the maximum height limit for fences in the rear yard of Single-Family, Multi-Family, and Public areas was inadvertently deleted.  The proposal is to restore that height limit to six feet, which is what it was before 2017.

 

During the same update, the regulations for retaining walls/rockeries were amended.  Among the changes was the establishment of a maximum height limit of six feet for retaining walls located in setback areas.  Previously, there were no height limits on retaining walls anywhere on a site, whether in the setback area or the buildable area.  However, it has been shown that setting arbitrary maximum height limits on retaining walls, regardless of where they are located, is unfeasible because the required height of a retaining wall is dependent on its function and the surrounding topography.

 

Staff’s proposal is to limit the height of retaining walls, wherever they are located, to be “the lowest necessary to achieve its functional purpose”.

 

Click these links to download the staff proposals:

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on final drafts at 6pm on Wednesday, April 6 at the Carnegie Building, 105 Cedar Avenue.  Community members can also attend remotely online or via telephone.  Information on how to do that will be included with the agenda packet that will be published on Friday, April 1.  Go to the Agenda Center to download the packet.

Code Interpretations

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.  The Director is also authorized to determine whether a land use is allowed when that land use isn't specifically listed in any land use table.


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.


Previous Interpretations