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One of the great strengths of our country is that we are guided by the rule of law. Legally, a City must decide land use issues based on the State and local zoning laws in effect. When decisions are made contrary to this principle, there is a price to pay. Cities in Washington have paid out multi-million dollar settlements because their decision makers did not follow the law. That money comes out of the taxpayers' pocket.
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We often get requests to locate a property line for a property owner. Sometimes the owner needs to know where the line is in order to put up a fence, to determine the setback for a new building or to resolve a property line dispute between neighbors. The City cannot provide a precise determination on the location of your property lines. For situations where a high degree of accuracy is required, you should hire a licensed surveyor to locate and mark the property lines for you.
However, if you just need a "ballpark" idea as to where the property lines are, the City can provide information that you can use to determine approximate locations. City staff can provide you with some known landmarks and the distances from them to your property lines. For example, in some subdivisions in town the front property lines are two or three feet behind the sidewalk; others are right at the sidewalk. Other landmarks may include monuments in the street, log corner markers installed by a surveyor, utility poles, fire hydrants, water meters, building locations and fences. Once City staff has equipped you with suggestions about from where to measure, it will be up to you to do the measuring and to ensure its accuracy. Any mistakes that result in a property line dispute are your liability; thus, if accuracy is necessary, hire a surveyor.
Locating property lines can be more difficult for some lots than others as the availability of know landmarks will vary from neighborhood to neighborhood and because some lots have complicated shapes with odd angles and curved lot lines while other lots may be simple rectangles. For information about locating your property lines, you can contact the Building Division at 360-403-3551, or stop by the Permit Center.
Local land use laws in Washington cities are placed in the City's comprehensive plan and land use code, which are first adopted and then amended by the City Council. In making decisions, the Council weighs the various considerations presented to it by City staff, the Planning Commission, interested parties, and the general public. Frankly, citizen input on these laws is rare but welcomed. The City Planning Commission and City Council must both hold public hearings prior to adopting these regulations. While these processes often get little public attention, the decisions made are vital. Permits must be issued based on these rules.
The Planning Commission meets the first and third Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers. The City council meets the first and third Monday of the month at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers. They would both have a place on every meeting agenda for public participation.
The opportunity for formal comment on projects varies depending on the type of permit. Learn more on our Development Proposals page.
The notice is a requirement of the State Environmental Policy Act (also known as SEPA, pronounced sea-pah). SEPA is a an environmental information process, providing for public review of potential environmental impacts and providing decision makers information they need for determining whether to approve a project or not. When a new development, ordinance or comprehensive plan is proposed, State law requires the City to review it for potential impacts to the environment, housing and public facilities. The Planning Manager, acting as the SEPA Responsible Official, reviews the proposal and makes one of three possible determinations:
Depending on what you would like to do, you may eventually need to hire a consulting professional. Learn more on our Development Reviews page.