Design Review

The Design Review process ensures that new and significantly remodeled commercial and multifamily developments meet the needs of the entire community. Design Review considers issues that affect safety, function, overall appearance and livability. These issues include zoning, existing site conditions, off-site impacts, setbacks, access, parking, grading, drainage, signs, landscaping and architectural design. Adequate circulation for pedestrians, bicycles, cars and service vehicles also must be considered.

Section 1102 of the ZDO describes Design Review in detail.

Who does Design Review?

County staff and the Design Review Committee conduct the Design Review process. The Design Review Committee is composed of citizen volunteers, several of whom are experts in architecture, landscape design and planning.

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 (e.g., solid waste, water, fire, sewer, surface water detention). 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 Systems Development Charge fees and Parks System Development Charge fees that may be required for a project.

To apply, the applicant must submit the application form and design review fee, as well as preliminary plans. One full-sized set of plans and one scannable (11/17 maximum) are required. Additional sets may be required for large, complex projects. The applicant must get a signed Preliminary Statement of Feasibility from the water provider, sanitary sewer provider and surface management authority, if applicable.


The standard Design Review fee is .384 percent of the construction cost (.00384 x construction cost) of the project, with a $650 minimum and a $36,835 maximum fee.

Awnings without signing, facade or storefront revisions, and similar minor changes not requiring a building permit are $135.

Replacement signs, signs of 60 square feet or less (over-the-counter approval) are $135.

Once the application is submitted, notice goes to the Community Planning Organizations (CPO), appropriate agencies and other interested parties. Those parties have a minimum of 15 days in which to comment on the application.

Review process

Prior to final plan approval, the Design Review Committee or county staff reviews the preliminary plans and issues an initial written approval, including any changes that must be made. An applicant can avoid paying separate fees for the review of signs by submitting the sign proposal with the Design Review application.

Design Review Committee schedule

No meeting is scheduled at this time.

Final plan approval

An applicant should submit final to-scale plans including:

  • general site plan
  • grading plan
  • landscape plan
  • architectural drawings
  • sign proposal

If these plans address all the conditions of approval, the project receives "final" Design Review approval and is eligible for a building permit.

To receive final approval, Design Review applications must include all the items listed in the "Final Plan Submittal" section. Final approval will not occur until the Design Review Committee or staff has reviewed any items that were not included in the initial action, and the committee's landscape architect has approved the final landscaping plan.

Processing time

Typically processing takes four to six weeks from the date of application submittal through the review by the county staff and Design Review Committee.

Appeals process

If an application is denied, the 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.