(1) Powers. Recognizing that there are certain cases that may, or may not, be detrimental to aesthetic character, public health, safety and general welfare, and the effectiveness of visual communication in the City, depending upon the facts of each particular case, a limited power to issue variance permits and to interpret any section of the title is vested with the Hearing Examiner.
(2) Variances and Appeals. Application for appeals and variances from the ruling of the Building Official concerning the provisions herein may be made to the Hearing Examiner. The City Planner shall receive all applications requesting review of the Building Official’s requirements, decisions, or determinations relating thereto, for a variance. The City Planner shall fix a reasonable date and time for the public hearing and shall give at least 10 days’ advance written notice thereof to the parties and to the owners of property within 300 feet of the actual or anticipated location of the sign subject to the variance. The Hearing Examiner shall conduct a hearing and make a decision following the procedures outlined in Chapter 25.195 PMC.
(3) Stay. An application to the Hearing Examiner stays all proceedings in furtherance of the action unless in the opinion of the Building Official a stay would cause imminent peril to life or property.
(4) Variance Criteria. The Hearing Examiner may approve a variance from the requirements of this code if the applicant demonstrates that:
(a) Strict application of the code requirements would deny the applicant a reasonable opportunity to communicate by sign in a manner similar to like persons or uses because of an unusual or unique circumstance relating to the property or the proposal, such as site or building location, building design, physical features of the property, or other circumstance not created by the applicant;
(b) The sign which would result from the variance will not affect the surrounding neighborhood or other property affected by the request in a manner materially inconsistent with the purposes of this sign code; and
(c) The degree of the variance is limited to that reasonably necessary to alleviate the problem created by the unique or unusual circumstances identified in subsection (1) of this section.
(5) Appeal. Any person or entity having a direct interest affected by the decision of the Community and Economic Development Director or Building Official regarding the approval or denial of a permit, conditions imposed for approval, or interpretation or application of the provisions of this sign code may appeal that decision to the Hearing Examiner in the same manner as the procedure provided in subsection (2) of this section. In hearing the appeal, the Hearing Examiner shall give deference to the Community and Economic Development Director and Building Official’s expertise and the applicant shall bear the burden of proof that the Community and Economic Development Director and/or Building Official’s decision was arbitrary or capricious or clearly erroneous.
(6) Finality. The Hearing Examiner shall render its decision, together with the written findings of fact, within 10 working days of the close of the hearing.
(7) Unless a Land Use Petition Act appeal by a person having standing is initiated pursuant to Chapter 36.70C RCW in the Franklin County Superior Court within 21 days of the issuance of the land use decision, the decision of the Hearing Examiner shall be final.
(8) Collection of Expenses Incurred. Whenever, pursuant to the provisions of PMC 17.40.040 or 17.40.050, the City incurs any expense in connection with the removal or alteration of any sign, the cost thereof shall be paid by the owner of the real property upon which the sign is erected or maintained. In the event any other person is in possession of such property with the consent of the owner, the owner and such other person shall be jointly responsible for the payment of such cost.
The City shall submit to the owner and/or other person in possession of the premises a statement of costs incurred by the City for removing or altering the sign.
Upon the failure to receive full payment within 30 days from the date the statement is submitted, or within 30 days after conclusion of any appeal proceedings, whichever is later, the City is authorized to provide for the collection of the amounts due in any lawful manner.