Streamlining the Final Plat Process
New Project Information
On August 2, 2017, Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers approved an ordinance (PDF) to streamline the final plat approval process. The ordinance became effective on August 12, 2017. The ordinance changes the final plat process in the following ways:
- Final plat applications submitted on or after July 23, 2017, no longer require approval by the County Council. Instead, final plats are approved administratively by Snohomish County Planning and Development Services. Final plats continue to be noticed to the public after intake. The public has an opportunity to provide comments to PDS prior to approval of a final plat.
- Final plat applications submitted prior to July 23, 2017, continue to be processed according the final plat approval procedures that existed prior to adoption of the ordinance. Final plats that fall into this category continue to be transmitted to the County Council for approval and require a public hearing.
- Preliminary subdivision approval extension requests authorized under SCC 30.41A.300 no longer require approval by the County Council. Instead, such extension requests made on or after the effective date of the ordinance are approved administratively by PDS. The provision allows extension of a preliminary subdivision up to four months if an applicant can provide justification of extenuating circumstances that warrant such extension, which in effect extends the life of a final plat.
- Housekeeping and code cleanup changes are made to code sections related to final plat review and approval.
The County has fully implemented the code amendments through revised final plat processes.
Purpose of Project
Snohomish County considered and adopted procedural changes to the platting process. The purpose of the project was to draft code amendments that would streamline the final plat process. The project specifically considered changes that would implement Senate Bill 5674, which approved by Governor Jay Inslee in 2017 and allows for alternative methods for final plat approval. PDS has identified three key goals for the code amendment project:
- Speeding up housing production;
- Retaining public involvement in decision-making; and
- Reducing administrative costs and required staff resources related to final plat processing.
A plat is any subdivision of land with ten or more lots within the urban growth area, or five or more lots outside the urban growth area. The approval process for a final plat is governed pursuant to Chapter 58.17 of the Revised Code of Washington and Chapter 30.41A of the Snohomish County Code (SCC). A final plat is the graphical representation of land separated into individual lots and tracts with corresponding dedications of land to the public, easements, and binding restrictions.
The platting process generally consists of three distinct phases: preliminary plat, civil construction, and final plat. PDS is responsible for reviewing final plats and provides a recommendation to the County Council when a final plat is ready for approval. Subsequently, the County Council holds a public hearing to consider the facts and public testimony related to the final plat prior to granting or denying approval.
In April, Senate Bill 5674 was approved by Governor Jay Inslee allowing local legislative bodies to delegate final plat approval to “an established planning commission or agency, or to such other administrative personnel.” The goal of the bill is to provide local jurisdictions with additional final plat approval options that could bring housing the market faster and reduce risks and costs to homebuilders while retaining the basic platting framework. The bill will become statute on July 23, 2017, at which point local jurisdictions can effectuate it as they deem desirable.
Stephen Fesler, Senior Planner
Email Stephen Fesler
- May 2017: Initial Stakeholder Outreach
- Late-May 2017/Early-June 2017: Draft Code Language
- Early-June 2017: Additional Stakeholder Outreach
- Summer 2017: County Council Legislative Action
- Presentation (PDF): County Council Informational Briefing, June 6, 2017
- Draft Code Amendments (PDF), June 6, 2017
- Proposed Ordinance and Staff Report (PDF), July 7, 2017
- Presentation (PDF): County Council Briefing, July 10, 2017
- Public Notice of Hearing (PDF), July 26, 2017
- Approved Amended Ordinance No. 17-045 (PDF), August 2, 2017