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The land use review process in Vancouver

Vancouver strictly controls land use within the city limits. The city is divided into various zoning districts, and each has a specific set of regulations that control land use, building height and type of structure. Every proposal to erect, demolish or rehabilitate a structure, develop a parcel of real estate or modify the use of a structure must go through the city's land use review process.

The Zoning Code specifies four types of land use review. Type I review applies to minor permits that require only ministerial review, such as minor variances and site plan reviews. A planning official usually approves or rejects a Type I review without providing public notice or conducting a public hearing.

Types II and III apply to actions that require significant discretionary application of the requirements of the Zoning Code. Type II applications include major site plan review, short subdivisions, and similar actions. Type II applications require a public hearing, but the decision is usually made by a single planning official.

Type III comprises the most complex kind of permits, such as conditional use permits, large subdivision approval and master plans. All Type III permits require public notice, and they are heard before a special hearings examiner. Type IV permits are legislative actions that apply to large sections of the city. Examples include rezoning, amendments to the map or code and planned use developments.

The development process can be very complex, especially if a land use proposal attracts opposition from neighbors or special interest groups. Anyone contemplating submitting a development proposal may wish to consult an attorney who is knowledgeable about land use planning procedures. An experienced lawyer can review the plan to determine if it complies with the terms of the zoning ordinance and can assist in presentation of the proposal for the proper type of review.

Source: City of Vancouver Washington, "Land Use Review Types," accessed on March 26, 2018

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