Blaine Planning Commission to discuss changes to lot coverage rules

Published on Thu, Aug 9, 2012 by Jeremy Schwartz

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After issues arose affecting multiple Blaine single-family homes, Blaine planning staff are proposing changes to the city’s lot coverage regulations.

Blaine planning staff are seeking changes to the city’s lot coverage requirements, which describe how much of a given lot within city limits can be covered with buildings or other impervious surfaces. In a report to Blaine planning commissioners, posted below, planning staff make the case that Blaine’s lot coverage regulations should only take into account building footprints and not driveways or other impervious surfaces.

Impervious surfaces are those that rain water cannot flow through to reach the ground underneath. The more impervious surfaces there are, the more stormwater flows off buildings and into stormwater treatment structures.

Writing in the report, Blaine city planner Alex Wenger says single family homeowners in Blaine typically take issue with not being able to add a small home addition or garage due to the city’s current lot coverage rules. Most of the time, an individual’s lot will have already met or exceeded the lot coverage limit without the homeowner necessarily knowing it.

This can happen when a homeowner adds a driveway or shed, both of which do not require a city permit but do count toward the overall area of the lot covered by impervious surfaces. Each zoning area throughout the city has different limits on the percentage of a lot covered by impervious surfaces.

Wenger writes homeowners are seldom happy with having to remove a driveway or shed in order to add an addition to their home. This issue mostly arises in central Blaine because lots in west and east Blaine are typically larger.

Wenger points out in the report that the small cities surrounding Blaine - Lynden, Ferndale, etc. - do not count driveways or “other impervious surfaces” in their lot coverage regulations, as Blaine does. Given this, Wenger suggests Blaine’s code be changed to only include areas of a lot covered by buildings as impervious.

Blaine planning ommissioners will take up this issue at tonight’s meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. in the Blaine City Council chambers. For a look at tonight’s full agenda, click here and scroll down to August 9.

Blaine Planning Commission Lot Coverage Staff Report

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