Comments on land use decisions are encouraged and can be submitted from anyone who feels affected by a proposal. When submitting comments, keep the following in mind:
- Comments must be in writing (letter or e- mail), addressed to Development Services, and must contain your name and address.
- Comments will be accepted until the time a staff report is prepared for the decision or recommendation. The comment period will always be at least 14 days (30 days for projects in the Shoreline Overlay District).
- If you submit a written comment, the city will send you a copy of the notice of decision or recommendation.
Your comments help ensure that the best decision is reached. All comments are read and carefully considered before a decision is issued. Please consider the following when commenting:
- Comments made early in the decision process are generally more effective than comments made later.
- Each application type has criteria that must be met in order to be approved. If you object to a proposal, you may want to show where you believe the applicable criteria are not met.
- You cannot appeal a decision unless you provided written comments before the decision was made.
Review our Frequently Asked Questions for more information on participating in a land use decision.
What is the decision process?
Hearing Examiner Decisions
Process I is for the review of “quasi-judicial” decisions made by the Bellevue Hearing Examiner following a public hearing. A quasi- judicial decision is governed by strict rules of fairness similar to those that apply in court. City staff review the proposal, hold a public meeting, and forward a recommendation to the Hearing Examiner for review at a public hearing. The Hearing Examiner’s decision can be appealed to the City Council. Process I is used for the following applications:
- Conditional use permits
- Planned unit developments
- Preliminary subdivisions (plats)
- Protected Area development exceptions
- Shoreline conditional use permits
Director of Development Services Decisions
Administrative decisions made by the Director of Development Services, called Process II decisions. Process II is used for the bulk of the land use applications allowed in the City. Administrative decisions can be appealed to the Bellevue Hearing Examiner and include:
- Administrative Amendments
- Administrative Conditional Use
- Design Review
- Preliminary Short Plat
- Critical Areas Land Use Permit
- SEPA determinations when not combined with a Land Use Decision
- Home Occupation Permit
- Interpretations of the Land Use Code
- Master Development Plan
Quasi-Judicial City Council Decisions
Decisions made by the City Council, called Process III decisions. Process III is used to review quasi-judicial decisions made by the City Council following a public hearing and recommendation by the Hearing Examiner. City Council decision are appealed to Superior Court and include:
- Site-specific rezones
- Process I decisions within the jurisdiction of the East Bellevue Community Council
Process IV is used to review applications for non-project decisions establishing development policies and regulations. Process IV decisions are made by the City Council, following a public hearing held by the Bellevue Planning Commission. Process IV applications include:
- Amendments to the Land Use Code
- Amendments to the Comprehensive Plan and the Land Use Plan Map
- Area-wide rezones
Land use decisions that have minor impact and involve the exercise of little or no discretion, such as boundary line adjustments, final plats, land use exemptions, vendor cart permits, temporary use permits, and temporary encampment permits (a Process V decision) are appealed directly to Superior Court.
How are land use decisions appealed?
The applicant or any person who submitted written comments prior to the date the decision was issued may appeal.
A written appeal must be filed with the City Clerk’s Office (appeal notification form)no later than 5pm on the last day of the appeal period stated on the public notice in the Weekly Permit Bulletin. Typical appeal periods are 14-days from the date of decision issuance, but there are exceptions.
Appeals of shoreline approvals are submitted to the State Shoreline Hearings Board, must be in writing, and must be filed within 21 days of the date of the City's decision was received by the State Department of Ecology. Please contact the State's Environmental and Land Use Hearings Office at 360-664-9170 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Appeals cannot be accepted after the appeal deadline. If you are considering an appeal, watch for the decision publication so you can submit your appeal in time.
What information should be included in the appeal?
Appeals must be submitted in writing, together with an Appeal Notification Form, available from the City Clerk’s Office. There is no charge to file an appeal; however, the applicant will be charged for staff time to respond to an appeal. If the applicant is the appellant, charges associated with this time may be waived or refunded if the applicant substantially prevails in the appeal.
In your appeal, clearly state why you think the decision is wrong and include facts or observations about how the project fails to meet the code requirements. Explain how you are affected by the decision and what remedy or alternative you propose.
Be as specific as possible; provide data or any other relevant information you think may have been overlooked in the decision. Specific appeal requirements are contained in the Land Use Code and rules for the Hearing Examiner.
Who makes the appeal decision?
Administrative decisions made by the Director of Development Services are appealed to the Bellevue Hearing Examiner. Decisions made by the Bellevue Hearing Examiner are appealed to the City Council. Decisions made by the City Council are appealed to superior court.
What is the appeal hearing process?
All parties to the appeal, including the city, the applicant, and the appellant(s), may participate in a hearing by presenting testimony and calling witnesses to testify. If you are not a party to the appeal, you will not be able to testify at the hearing unless called as a witness by one of the parties or specifically authorized by the Hearing Examiner.
The hearing is similar to a very informal court hearing. You do not need an attorney. You may call the Hearing Examiner at 425-452-6935 to request a copy of the Hearing Examiner’s Rules of Procedure governing the hearing process.
For information about the process for shoreline appeals, talk with a planner at the Land Use Desk or contact the State Shoreline Hearings Board.
What standards does the Hearing Examiner use in making a decision?
The Hearing Examiner will decide whether DS correctly applied the code requirements to the application. The burden of proof is on the appellant to demonstrate why the DS decision is in error. To overturn a DS decision, the Hearing Examiner must conclude that the department’s decision is “not supported by a preponderance of the evidence.” It is, therefore, important to include specific background information that supports your position, particularly if you believe the information was not considered in our decision.
We will submit the entire file to the Hearing Examiner. You may use information in the file to support your position. You may also ask the city planner or other reviewers to explain information contained in the file in order to be sure everyone has a complete understanding of the issues. You may submit your own information to be included in the city file before a decision is made, or you may submit information directly to the Hearing Examiner at the appeal or bring experts or specialists to support your position.
How are appeals handled for projects with more than one land use decision?
If a project requires more than one land use decision (e.g., land use decision and a SEPA threshold determination), all the decisions will usually be issued in one report and any appeals consolidated in a single hearing.
In some cases, a project may require a DS administrative decision and a decision made by the Hearing Examiner or the City Council.
Examples would be a SEPA decision on a conditional use, PUD, or rezone. In these cases, the administrative decision will be published in a report that also includes the department’s recommendation for the Hearing Examiner or City Council action (the conditional use, PUD, or plat). If the administrative decision is appealed, the appeal will be considered as part of the Hearing Examiner’s public hearing on the action.
Can I appeal the City's final land use decision?
Decisions of the Hearing Examiner or City Council can be appealed to Superior Court after the City’s administrative appeal process is exhausted. The final decision will include the deadline for filing and where the appeal should be filed (Superior Court or Shoreline Hearings Board).
Where can I find additional information?
- LUC 20.30, Permits and Decisions
- LUC 20.35, Review and Appeal Procedures
- BCC 22.02.080, Appeal of Threshold Determination
- BCC 22.02.150, Administrative Appeal of Decision Approving a Proposal
- Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 36.70C, Appeals to Superior Court
- Weekly Permit Bulletin
- State Shoreline Hearings Board: 360-664-9160