Chapter 1.55
LAND USE HEARING EXAMINER

Sections:

1.55.010    Purpose.

1.55.020    Definitions.

1.55.030    Appointment – Confirmation – Contract.

1.55.040    Qualifications.

1.55.050    Term.

1.55.060    Ex parte contact – Conflict of interest.

1.55.070    Procedural rules.

1.55.080    Matters assigned to examiner.

1.55.090    Authority.

1.55.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to:

(1) Separate the land use regulatory function from the land use planning process.

(2) Ensure procedural due process and appearance of fairness of land use regulatory hearings and decisions.

(3) Provide an efficient and effective land use regulatory system which integrates the public hearing and decision-making processes for land use matters.

(4) Provide for consistency and predictability in land use decision-making and the application of policies and regulations adopted by the city of Hoquiam.

(5) Establish clear and understandable rules governing the land use decision-making process. (Ord. 06-25 § 6, 2006; Ord. 06-07 § 6, 2006).

1.55.020 Definitions.

The following words shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section:

(1) “Affected party” means any individual, partnership, corporation, association, or public or private organization of any character, significantly affected by or interested in proceedings before the land use hearing examiner and shall include any party in a contested case.

(2) “Applicant” means those applying to the city for approval of land uses.

(3) “City” means the city of Hoquiam, Washington.

(4) “Council” means the Hoquiam city council.

(5) “Decision” or “final decision,” when used in this chapter or any ordinance or section of the Hoquiam Municipal Code relating to the powers and responsibilities of the land use hearing examiner, means the final action of the examiner. Utilization of the term or terms shall in no way be deemed to restrict the powers and authority of the council or mayor as they may be granted by the laws and ordinances of the of the city to accept the final decision of the examiner as a recommendation and to proceed with his, her or their role in the decision-making process.

(6) “Department” means the city of Hoquiam building department.

(7) “Examiner” or “hearing examiner” means the land use hearing examiner of the city.

(8) “Ex parte communication” means written or oral communications not included in the public record and made outside of a public hearing.

(9) “Party of record” means:

(a) The applicant or his, her or its designated agent;

(b) Any person attending a public hearing requesting notification of the examiner’s decision, and being given assurance on the record that such notification will be given;

(c) Any person submitting written arguments dealing with the merits of the case;

(d) Any person attending a public hearing requesting notification of the examiner’s decision.

(10) “Staff” means departments, officers and employees of the city. (Ord. 06-25 § 6, 2006; Ord. 06-07 § 6, 2006).

1.55.030 Appointment – Confirmation – Contract.

The examiner shall be appointed by the mayor, subject to confirmation by the city council. The examiner may be retained under a professional services contract for a specified term, and on conditions determined by the mayor. The contract may also provide for examiners pro tem to serve in the absence of the examiner under such terms and conditions deemed appropriate by the mayor. (Ord. 06-25 § 6, 2006; Ord. 06-07 § 6, 2006).

1.55.040 Qualifications.

Examiners shall be appointed solely with regard to their qualifications for the duties of their office and will have such training and experience as will qualify them to conduct administrative or quasi-judicial hearings on regulatory enactments and to discharge the other functions conferred upon them. Examiners shall hold no other elective or appointive office or position with the city. An examiner may be removed from office at will and without cause by the mayor; however, such removal shall not affect the ability of the examiner to complete any cases for which he or she has already undertaken the hearing. (Ord. 06-25 § 6, 2006; Ord. 06-07 § 6, 2006).

1.55.050 Term.

The term of appointment for the examiner shall be for a period not to exceed four years, and shall be coterminous with the term of the mayor subject to termination as provided in HMC 1.55.040. Examiners pro tem may be appointed for such terms and functions as the mayor deems appropriate. (Ord. 06-25 § 6, 2006; Ord. 06-07 § 6, 2006).

1.55.060 Ex parte contact – Conflict of interest.

(1) In order to assure an appearance of fairness in matters considered by the examiner, no person shall have an ex parte contact with the examiner regarding such matter and no person, including governmental officials and employees, shall attempt to interfere with or interfere with or influence the examiner outside of the public hearing; provided, that a city official or employee may, in the performance of his or her official duties, provide information to the examiner when the action is disclosed at the hearing or meeting.

(2) No examiner shall conduct or participate in any hearing or decision in which the examiner may have a direct or indirect financial or personal interest or in which any such conduct or participation would violate any rule of law applicable thereto. (Ord. 06-25 § 6, 2006; Ord. 06-07 § 6, 2006).

1.55.070 Procedural rules.

The examiner may prescribe rules for the scheduling and conduct of hearings and other rules of procedure. (Ord. 06-25 § 6, 2006; Ord. 06-07 § 6, 2006).

1.55.080 Matters assigned to examiner.

A hearing examiner shall hear and decide matters assigned to the examiner by the mayor and council, including, but not limited to, the following land use matters:

(1) Such matters as may be prescribed pursuant to HMC Title 10, the zoning code, including, but not limited to, rezone applications, and all other matters requiring hearing under the zoning code; variance permits and conditional use permits; provided, that amendments to the city comprehensive plan shall be heard initially by the planning commission and then referred to the mayor and city council for final review and adoption, amendment, or rejection.

(2) Plat vacations or amendments, long plats, long subdivisions and redivisions of land excepting short plats and short subdivisions.

(3) Such other hearings required pursuant to the State Environmental Policy Act (Chapter 43.21C RCW) as may be required by the official charged with the responsibility for holding such a hearing; provided, that the substantive SEPA decision and the decision on the associated actions shall be made by the designated officials. (Ord. 16-05 § 1, 2016; Ord. 06-25 § 6, 2006; Ord. 06-07 § 6, 2006).

1.55.090 Authority.

The authority granted to the examiner pursuant to this or any chapter of the Hoquiam Municipal Code shall in no way be deemed to be a limitation upon the authority and responsibility of the mayor and city council which may be granted pursuant to the applicable provisions of any other portion or section of this code. (Ord. 06-25 § 6, 2006; Ord. 06-07 § 6, 2006).