A. Purpose. The purpose of a variance is to grant relief to specific bulk or dimensional requirements set forth in this shoreline master program where there are extraordinary or unique circumstances relating to the property such that the strict implementation of this shoreline master program would impose unnecessary hardships on the applicant or thwart the policies set forth in RCW 90.58.020. Variances from the use regulations of the SMP are prohibited.
B. Review Criteria. Shoreline variances may be authorized, provided the applicant can demonstrate compliance with the following criteria or as thereafter amended in WAC 173-27-170:
1. Shoreline variance permits should be granted in circumstances where denial of the permit would result in a thwarting of the policy enumerated in RCW 90.58.020. In all instances the applicant must demonstrate that extraordinary circumstances exist, and the public interest shall suffer no substantial detrimental effect.
2. Shoreline variance permits for development and/or uses that will be located landward of the OHWM, as defined in RCW 90.58.030(2)(b), and/or landward of any wetland as defined in RCW 90.58.030(2)(h), may be authorized provided the applicant demonstrates all of the following:
a. Would the strict application of the bulk, dimensional or performance standards set forth in this SMP preclude or significantly interfere with reasonable use of the property?
b. Is the hardship described in subsection (B)(2)(a) of this section specifically related to the property, and is the hardship the result of unique conditions such as irregular lot shape, size, or natural features and the application of this SMP, and not, for example, from deed restrictions or the applicant’s own actions?
c. Is the design of the project compatible with other authorized uses within the area and with uses planned for the area under the comprehensive plan and shoreline master program and will the project design not cause adverse impacts to the shoreline environment?
d. Will the variance constitute a grant of special privilege not enjoyed by the other properties in the area?
e. Is the variance requesting the minimum necessary to afford relief?
f. Will the public interest suffer no substantial detrimental effect?
3. Shoreline variance permits for development and/or uses that will be located waterward of the OHWM, as defined in RCW 90.58.030(2)(b), or within any wetland as defined in RCW 90.58.030(2)(h), may be authorized provided the applicant demonstrates all of the following:
a. Would the strict application of the bulk, dimensional or performance standards set forth in this SMP preclude all reasonable use of the property?
c. Will the public rights of navigation and use of the shorelines not be adversely affected?
4. In the granting of all shoreline variance permits, consideration shall be given to the cumulative impact of additional requests for like actions in the area. For example, if variances were granted to other developments and/or uses in the area where similar circumstances exist, the total of the variances shall also remain consistent with the policies of RCW 90.58.020 and shall not cause substantial adverse effects to the shoreline environment. The applicant shall prepare a cumulative impact analysis documenting other properties or uses on the same waterbody that are similarly situated and could request a similar variance. The town shall determine whether the additional potential for variances will produce substantial adverse effects to the shoreline environment considering the characteristics of the proposed variance request, the ability to achieve no-net-loss of ecological function principles, and capability of accommodating preferred shoreline uses in the future if the variance and cumulative potential requests occur.
5. Variances from the use regulations of this SMP are prohibited.
C. Conditions of Approval. In authorizing a variance, special conditions may be attached to the variance permit by town or Ecology to prevent undesirable effects of the proposed use and/or to assure consistency of the project with the Act and this SMP. Additionally, nothing shall interfere with the town’s ability to require compliance with all other applicable laws and plans. [Ord. 580 Att. A § 7.10, 2019.]