Tumwater amends certain multi-unit development regulations to measure its public benefits

Points awarded for energy efficiency; approved changes aid clarity for city and developers


Several provisions of the Tumwater Municipal Code relating to planned unit development (PUD) were revised yesterday, August 1, after the Tumwater City Council approved Ordinance No. O2022-006, which seeks to measure the public benefits of PUDs.

A “planned unit development” is one that a city can designate that modifies and supersedes the existing zoning. It seeks to encourage new development not limited by normal zoning requirements.

City Planning Manager Brad Medrud said that the regulations for PUDs were last updated in 2000. To measure the public benefit of a PUD, a list of tangible benefits will be consulted to guide developers on how many points will be granted to their project depending on its features. The city planning commission asked local developers for their input on this list. Their staff contacted five local developers, one of which responded to make suggestions.

In measuring the public benefit of a PUD, the size of the project is first evaluated. The PUD would automatically accrue two points for projects providing at least 20 dwelling units or industrial, commercial, and institutional projects covering more than 20 acres. Developments that do not meet these targets will be provided at least one point.

The list of tangible benefits includes features that will grant PUDs with either one or two points. Features with one point include the following:

  • Has useable parks and open space
  • Goes beyond the minimum requirements relating to the protection of critical areas and buffer
  • Goes beyond the minimum energy efficiency requirements to provide at least half of the development’s energy requirements
  • Dedicate a site containing a feature included on a register of historic places

Features that amount to two points include the following:

  • Has an energy system sourced from non-depletable resources that will provide for at least half of the development’s energy requirements
  • Has at least half of its residential dwelling units qualify as passive homes
  • Has at least twenty percent of its total dwelling units considered as permanently affordable housing

Other significant public facilities or amenities not explicitly mentioned in the list will be considered for additional points.

Private streets are allowed

The ordinance also seeks to specify how and when private streets for PUDs are allowed. The definition of a private street in the city’s municipal code will be amended to align with the city’s development guide. Under the revisions, private streets will be allowed when it serves up to four residential dwelling units unless all units are low-income. This means private streets may serve up to nine detached single-family dwelling units or up to 25 attached single-family or multi-family dwelling units. In terms of commercial zones, private streets will be allowed when it serves up to five businesses either situated on one or separate parcels.

Manufactured home zones

PUDs will also now be allowed in manufactured home park zone districts. Developments not for residential uses will also be allowed in airport-related industry zone districts. Meanwhile, single-family detached dwellings will no longer be allowed as part of a planned unit development or planned development overlay under multi-family medium zone district. PUDs will also not be allowed in greenbelt, open space, residential/ sensitive resources, and historic commercial zone districts.

Before these amendments, there was no minimum size required for a planned PUD. This will be revised so that developments are at least one acre.

Several provisions for how much developers could modify the underlying zone districts that PUDs have also been updated. There were also amendments to the application requirements, approval process, and appeal process for PUDs.


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