The Design Review process ensures that new and significantly remodeled commercial and multifamily developments meet the needs of the community by complying with all applicable codes and zoning regulations. Design Review considers issues that affect safety, function, overall appearance and livability, including zoning, site conditions, off-site impacts, setbacks, access, parking, grading, drainage, signs, landscaping, architectural design, and adequate circulation for pedestrians, bicycles, cars and service vehicles.
Section 1102 of the Zoning and Development Ordinance (ZDO) describes Design Review in detail.
Who Does Design Review?
County staff with, for some projects, the advice of the Design Review Committee, conduct the Design Review process. The Design Review Committee is composed of community volunteers, several of whom are experts in architecture, landscape design or engineering.
What is the Design Review process?
The first step is the pre-application conference. The "pre-app" allows the applicant an opportunity to meet with county staff and appropriate service providers such as solid waste, water, fire, sewer and surface water management. In this informal setting, the applicant explains the proposal, and county staff and service providers outline the requirements that apply to the project site. The applicant also gets an estimate of the Transportation System Development Charge (TSDC) fees and Parks System Development Charge (PSDC) fees that may be required for the project.
To apply, the applicant must submit the application form and design review fee, as well as preliminary plans. Scaled site, grading and landscaping plans and architectural drawings are required. If applicable, the applicant must also provide a signed Preliminary Statement of Feasibility from the water provider, sanitary sewer provider and surface water management authority. To avoid paying separate fees for sign review, applicants are encouraged to submit their sign proposal with the Design Review application.
Prior to final plan approval, county staff and, for large or complex projects, the Design Review Committee will review the preliminary plans. If the DRC is involved, a public meeting (no testimony) will be held to allow the DRC, staff and the applicant to discuss the project. The DRC will then make a recommendation to staff, following which staff will issue an initial written decision. If the application is approved, conditions of approval will be attached to the decision. The initial decision may be appealed to the Land Use Hearings Officer by the applicant or any interested party.
Reviewing the initial submittal for completeness, notifying appropriate parties, evaluating comments received and writing the decision generally takes four to six weeks from the date the complete application is submitted. This includes time for notification of the appropriate community planning organization (CPO) and adjacent property owners, which have a minimum of 20 days to respond after the notice is mailed.
The staff decision may be appealed to the county's Land Use Hearings Officer. An appeal must be filed within 12 days of the mailing date of the decision. The appeal fee is $250.