Starting in the Fall of 2008, the City began a comprehensive review of its
Zoning Code. Many of you have been involved in one or more meetings since that
time where we have reviewed and discussed parts of the zoning code by topic.
The last comprehensive update to the zoning code was started in the late 1970’s
and culminated with the adoption of a new zoning code in 1985. There have been
a number of amendments to the zoning code since that time. Much of the current
zoning code is rooted in the conventional thought of the 1970’s (or prior to
that) so it is important that the City evaluate, modify and even supplement the
zoning code so that it can best reflect the current needs, goals and objectives
of Kent. The code also needs to reflect contemporary land uses, operations and
concerns that may not have been present even ten years ago. As such, the review
and update is both timely and necessary. The following points summarize what
has been done to this point and our proposed direction for the future with
regard to this undertaking:
1. Staff has prepared drafts of the affected zoning code chapters that
directly relate to what has been discussed so far. Each of the chapters are
summarized in the second portion of this communication.
2. After a period of open public comment, staff hopes to be able to
finalize changes to the enclosed Chapters and then move them through the formal
zoning amendment process over the next 2-3 months.
3. Eventually, all of the sections of the zoning text and zoning map
will be reviewed as time permits.
Summary of Changes /
Comments (By Chapter)
numbering will be done by chapter so that if future chapters, sections or pages
are added, the entire numbering of the document will not have to be re-done. We
are hoping to be able to include hypertext links within the entire document to
allow quick and easy navigation between linked terms and sections but this is
still work in progress and will not be completed until the various sections are
ultimately adopted by ordinance.
1101 – Title, Interpretation and Conflict
Currently Numbered as Chapter 1107.
No major changes.
Chapter 1103 – Definitions
Currently Numbered as Chapter 1109.
While many of the definitions from the previous code have been maintained or
slightly modified, there have been a number of changes and additions made to
this chapter. Most of the definitions pertaining to specific types of signs
have been moved to the Chapter related to signage so that the reader does not
have to flip back and forth between chapters. Definitions related to some of
the other proposed Chapters have been added or modified to reflect some of the
content in those chapters. To the degree possible, wording used in conjunction
with permitted and conditionally permitted uses will be tied to the definitions
and terms listed in this Chapter.
definitions have not been lettered or numbered as subsections and can be
referred to by name rather than by section number.
1105 – Administration and Enforcement
Numbered as Chapter 1111.
There were no major changes to this Chapter other than the reference to the
Civil Infraction enforcement process in Section 1105.12.
1107 – Conditional Zoning Certificates and Specially Permitted Uses
Numbered as Chapter 1113.
There were several changes made to this chapter worth noting. One set of
changes to the Application Procedures (1107.02) section provides the Community
Development Department with the specific authority to request additional
information from the applicant AND for the Planning Commission to do the same.
An incomplete submission at the time of application may be rejected by staff.
There is also reference added to the Architectural Review process and the need
to submit a copy of the Certificate of Appropriateness issued as approval from
the Architectural Review Board at the time of application. The other
significant change to this Chapter extends the Planning Commission approval
period to two (2) years instead of the current approval period of one (1) year.
The additional wording with regard to application procedures has been updated to
reflect current practice being used by staff in receiving applications. Some
flexibility in this regard is practical but the ability to reject incomplete
submittals is also necessary in dealing with applicants who attempt to submit
incomplete information. With references to the Design Review process included,
Chapters 1120 and 1121, as well as the Design Guidelines (enforcement version)
need to be adopted concurrently.
Chapter 1109 – Board of
Currently Numbered as Chapter 1115.
This proposed chapter is
very similar to the existing Chapter 1115 with regard to content, with only
several notable changes. Reference is made in Section 1109.09 (d) to other
duties and responsibilities that the Board may have which are outside of the
zoning code and have been assigned through ordinance.
Chapter 1111 – Zoning
Currently Numbered as Chapter 1117.
This chapter is also very similar to the existing chapter related to zoning
amendments. There were no significant changes.
Chapter 1113 – Site Plan
Numbered as Chapter 1119.
There were several
significant changes to the Site Plan Review process. The first of these
concerned establishing two different procedures for site plan review relating to
“minor” projects and “major” projects. This is being proposed pursuant to some
of the discussions with the joint committee where we discussed the idea of
looking at two different review tracks, one for lesser projects and one for more
significant projects. To this end we attempted to define the “minor” projects
based on size of building, smaller parking lot additions, minor driveway or curb
cut relocations, all of which would be conditioned on the premise that the
construction is not closer than 50 feet to an abutting residential property.
Our thinking is that by defining a “minor” project in this way, we can still
address technical issues through internal staff review on projects that are not
necessarily contentious without having to run those projects through the more
extensive public meeting / notification process. This becomes the real
question – whether these reviews should be internalized without opportunity for
public comment. In addition to defining what is minor and major, the
respective application and review procedures are spelled out as well.
Site Plan Review process was also modified to respect the requirements of the
Design Review Process and the review to be conducted by the Architectural Review
Board where such review is applicable to a project. As with Conditional Uses,
we have also extended the approval period from one to two years and have
included the provision of using the Civil Infraction process as an enforcement
mechanism for site plan violations.
Chapter 1119 – Home Based
is a New Chapter.
With this Chapter we have included the requirements related to the existing two
versions of Home Based Businesses into a single zoning code chapter. Both the
Limited Home Business and the more extensive Home Occupation are addressed in
this Chapter, along with their definitions, regulations and operations. We
cleaned up some of the wording found in the current code, especially as it
relates the amount of floor area that a home occupation can occupy in a
residential structure. While we maintained the number of people outside of the
household that could work at the home occupation (this is currently 1), we did
provide wording that would allow the Planning Commission to increase this number
if the applicant could show that the increase would not adversely affect the
surrounding neighborhood. We also created a similar provision allowing the
Planning Commission to consider use of accessory structures for home occupations
at its discretion.
Chapter 1120 – Architectural
Chapter 1121 – Architectural
Design Review Overlay Districts
Design Guidelines (Appendix
are New Chapters.
These Chapters establish the actual review process for projects in designated
Design Overlay Districts (identified in Chapter 1121) for compliance with the
Design Guidelines (Appendix A) applicable to the Overlay District (if any) in
which the project is located. The review process spells out the procedure for
review by the Architectural Review Board and refers to the Guidelines adopted.
Both Chapters were set up with allowing for the possibility that there could be
more than one overlay district and each overlay district could have different
guidelines, although as currently proposed, there is only one overlay district
covering the downtown and the immediate West River area. The chapters will also
reference the approved Design Guidelines which we expect to be somewhat modified
(from the original version) for enforcement purposes.
first time, the Architectural Review Process will be separated from the review
authority of the City’s Planning Commission and create a process where the
Architectural Review Board has autonomy and can act in reference to actual
written guidelines. Application fees and submission requirements are defined in
Chapter 1120 as well as review procedures.
1122 – Rooming and Boarding Houses
is a new Chapter.
All the regulations pertaining to Rooming and Boarding Houses have been combined
into a single chapter. This too will allow the reader to understand all the
requirements for such uses without having to flip back and forth between various
sections of the zoning code.
changes to the regulations are significant in regard to defining households and
determining household status. This reduces the dependence of defining such uses
on the basis of familial relationships and puts more of the emphasis on defining
the specific factors defining the characteristics of persons living together as
a single, more permanent household compared to those who are more short-term or
transient in nature. This change is especially important for enforcement
purposes and in defining legal versus illegal uses.
chapter also attempts to identify more practical dimensional requirements (lot
size, open space) for these uses based on size of operation and existing
elements both on the property and adjacent to the property with regard to open
space and the Planning Commission is given some latitude to determine what is
adequate in regard to open space rather than having to abide by hard numbers
that were often impossible to satisfy and almost always required variances.
requirements for parking are also better defined with regard to location, number
of spaces required and setback from property lines. The size and layout of
parking spaces is addressed and front yard parking spaces are prohibited since
they can produce some of the most blighting factors seen with such uses.
Reference is also made to the Environmental Housing Code (as it exists) which is
enforced by the Health Department.
major revisions to Zoning Code proposed herein do not constitute changes to the
licensing of these units. The current regulations in the Environmental Housing
Code still apply as would any future revisions. Staff has discussed with
Council and the Joint Zoning Committee the concept of attempting to broaden and
expand the rental licensing requirements to all rental properties and this
possibility will continue to be evaluated. Staff hopes to bring some proposals
back to Council to consider, most likely in 2011. The changes also do not
modify which districts these uses are allowed in from what is currently in
Chapter 1165 – Signage
Appendix B – Sign Design
change in Chapter Numbering.
Numerous, significant changes to the current sign regulations are proposed in
this draft. Definitions for various types of signage have been moved to this
Chapter from the Chapter on Definitions (1103). The proposed chapter also
creates much more detail in both general and specific requirements for signs,
including temporary signs.
proposed chapter also introduces the concept of a Comprehensive Sign Plan. The
Comprehensive Sign Plan would be more applicable to larger scale, multiple
tenant properties where the traditional number and size of signage may not be
practical. Rather than have such proposals go through a zoning variance
process, where such decisions are made on the basis of hardship or practical
difficulty demonstrated by the applicant, the Comprehensive Sign Plan process
allows the Planning Commission to consider larger, more numerous sign packages
for a site based on scale and design. This should give business interests and
property managers more flexibility in designing sign packages for a site while
at the same time giving the Planning Commission and the Architectural Review
Board the ability to review the proposed package with more flexibility to modify
and work with changes. This should prove to be more effective in obtaining more
aesthetic signage in scale with the property than was previously the case by
running such cases through the Board of Zoning Appeals for variances.
are a number of other changes too numerous to summarize here. We have also
created Appendix B which contains proposed design guidelines for signage. These
proposed sign design guidelines were developed with the overall Design
Guidelines in mind along with some additional standards and detail.
sign design guidelines as we propose them would be applicable to the entire City
to the extent feasible but we would also recommend that they be mandatory
within any designated Design Overlay District.
knowledge, this is the first attempt by the City to emphasize design related
criteria to signage.
summary is a relatively brief overview of the changes proposed in relation to
what currently exists in the present zoning code. It should provide the reader
with some perspective on the direction of the changes and highlight some of
those changes that staff considers significant. We do encourage interested
persons to take the time to read the individual chapters in detail since they
may find things that they consider significant that we did not highlight.