RELATED ECOLOGY PROGRAMS
Conditional Use Permits (“CUPs”)
Conditional Use Permits allow greater flexibility in applying use
regulations of shoreline master program. A CUP is needed if a proposed use
is listed as a conditional use in a local government's environment
designation, or if the SMP does not address the use.
Ecology encourages local governments to contact shoreline permit review staff early in the process of approving a conditional use permit if difficulties are anticipated.
In the ten-year period from 1993 - 2002, local governments issued 2,626 conditional use and variance permits, of which 101 were denied by Ecology.
Uses which are classified or set forth in the applicable master program as conditional uses may be authorized provided that the applicant demonstrates all of the following:
Conditional uses must also meet criteria in WAC 173-27-140 which apply to all development.
A conditional use permit should also be granted in a circumstance where denial of the permit would result in a thwarting of the SMA policy. For instance, an elevated walkway across a portion of marsh providing public access to a public shoreline without interfering with the wildlife, might be authorized by CUP even though the SMP provisions discourage any type of over-water construction.
Local government may include additional general or use specific criteria as provisions in its master program but must include consideration of the above criteria for all listed conditional uses.
Typical conditional uses might include overwater commercial development in an urban environment, bed-and-breakfast inns or restaurants within a rural environment or gravel mining in a conservancy environment.
Some proposals may require both a substantial development permit and a conditional use permit. Other proposals that are not a "substantial development" might require a conditional use permit. Make sure it is clear on the permit and in the public notices what combination of permits is being considered. Failure to specify the permit type(s) is a common reason for permits being returned to local government for proper notice and processing. Permit processes are similar and can be handled together as long as clear and separate decisions are made on each issue.
In reviewing CUP applications, local governments must consider the cumulative impact over time of granting additional permits for like actions in the area. In other words, if comparable development proposals are likely and were permitted by CUP in the area where similar circumstances exist, the total of the developments must also be consistent with the SMA and must not produce substantial adverse effects to the shoreline environment.
For example, a CUP for a bulkhead and landfill for one site may not have substantial adverse effects by itself. However, a series of bulkheads and fills strung around a bay could seriously effect the shoreline ecosystem. The initial CUP request could be denied based on future cumulative impact. One of the greatest strengths of the CUP process is the ability to deal with cumulative impact, encouraging foresight and planning. The State Supreme Court addressed the regulation of cumulative impacts in Hayes v. Yount, 87 Wn.2d 280, 287-88, 552 P.2d 1038 (1976).
Some proposals may require a substantial development permit and a conditional use (or variance) permit. Other proposals that are not a "substantial development" might require a conditional use permit or variance. Local governments should be sure it is clear on the permit and in the public notices what combination of permits is being considered. Failure to specify the permit type(s) is a common reason for permits being returned to local government for proper notice and processing. Permit processes are similar and can be handled together as long as clear and separate decisions are made on each issue.
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