City to Resume Public Notice May 11, 2020
Public Notice was temporarily suspended in late March due to the Governor’s Stay at Home order. This was primarily a change in City operations to ensure that the City complied with the Governor’s Stay at Home order and to allow Community Planning & Development to determine how to best implement remote operations. CPD staff continued to process building and land use applications remotely; however, many of the projects and permits require a public notification and/or a notice of application/decision.
In an effort to continue to promote citizen involvement and provide information to our local community around current development applications that have been submitted within the past several weeks, Community Planning & Development (CPD) is resuming public notice (i.e. the Weekly Bulletin, mailings, and postings) to provide notification and public comment periods. Staff have provided answers to frequently asked questions to better assist the community in understanding the notice process and procedures, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Q: Why is Public Notice resuming while the Governor’s shelter in place order is still in effect through May 31st?
A: The Governor’s order still allowed for essential projects and some non-essential projects to continue, as well as for employees to continue regular operations working remotely. Planners are processing permits remotely to every extent possible, but in many cases cannot proceed on various permits until public notification / notice procedures are completed. Mercer Island is the only city in King County that has ceased public notifications / notice during the Governor’s stay-at-home order. In an effort to avoid deluging the community with numerous notices at the end of the order, and causing unnecessary delays to our citizens that are trying to obtain a building or land use permit, the City resumed Public Notices in order to continue providing notifications for the public’s information and participation in the public comment process.
Q: How can the City issue public notices while City Hall is closed to the public?
A: Most of the noticing can be prepared remotely, including the Weekly Bulletin. A staff person is required to be in the office each week to print the notices, prepare for mailing (stuff envelopes and run through the postage machine), make the sign and post on site. This process can be completed with only one person in the office to implement the necessary steps utilizing social distancing measures.
Q: Is resuming the issuance of public notices consistent with applicable law (e.g. the State statutes and MICC regulations) relating to public notice and the Governor’s order?
A: The City is operating in compliance with the Governor’s order. The City is also complying with the MICC regulations by providing the public notifications required for each permit or project application and utilizing social distancing measures and PPE, as necessary. Staff are available to take public comment, provide public records and answer questions from the public via email, phone and video conference.
Q: Are public notices required for all permits?
A: Permit review types are outlined in MICC 19.15.030. Type I permits (e.g., nonmajor building permits, tree removal permits, shoreline exemptions, etc.) do not require public notification or notices of application/decision. Type II permits receive public notification in the Weekly Bulletin issued by CPD. Public notice (mailing and posting on site) is required on all Type III and Type IV permits.
Q: If I receive a notice, do I have the ability to review the file or consult with a planner?
A: Yes. All project file materials are available online. Additionally, planning staff are working remotely and available during regular office hours and can be reached at their regular office phone number, or via e-mail, to discuss a project or permit. Though we cannot meet in person, due to the City offices being closed to the public, we can have a video conference call if face-to-face interaction is preferred to discuss a project.