A. General Regulations. Installation of fences and freestanding walls, except for public utility purposes, shall comply with the following general requirements:
1. The design of all fences and freestanding walls shall be consistent with the City of Snohomish Design Standards and Guidelines for the City’s Historic District and the Design Standards and Guidelines for Areas Outside of the Historic District, whichever is applicable to the site.
2. A building permit issued by the Building Official shall be required prior to installation of a fence or freestanding wall, except for when the fence or freestanding wall is located in the Single-Family land use designation area outside of the Historic District.
3. All fences and freestanding walls shall meet the requirements for height, setback, sight obstruction, maintenance, and special location provisions as set forth in this section.
4. The type, size, location, and height of fencing proposed for tennis courts, parks, or athletic fields shall be categorically exempt from the requirements outlined in this chapter and will be reviewed and approved by the Planning and Development Services Department on a project-by-project basis.
5. No fence or freestanding wall shall create a safety hazard or sight obstruction as described in SMC 14.210.160.
6. Fence and freestanding wall height shall be measured from the ground level where the fence/freestanding wall touches the ground (or if it does not touch the ground, the ground level where it would touch if extended straight down to the ground) to the highest point of the fence/freestanding wall. Where the ground levels on either side of a fence/freestanding wall differ, the height shall be measured from the lowest ground level elevation.
7. The maximum allowed height of fences and freestanding walls located in the buildable area of the lot shall be the same as the maximum height allowed for the land use designation area where it is located.
8. Decorative features, artwork, or trellises placed on top of a fence or freestanding wall that do not add to the screening effect or opaqueness of the fence/freestanding wall shall not be included when calculating the height of the fence/freestanding wall.
B. Fences in the Right-of-Way. Freestanding walls shall not be allowed in the public right-of-way. Fences shall not be allowed in the public right-of-way except under the following conditions:
1. The proposed fence is on a lot with a residential use on the ground floor.
2. The right-of-way is equal to or in excess of 60 feet.
3. There will be no obstruction to the operation of utility equipment and the maintenance of utility lines.
4. The fence is located on the nonstreet side of the sidewalk, or otherwise in the opinion of the Director, does not impede the normal flow of the public’s use of the right-of-way.
5. The property owner-applicant proposing the fence executes and records an agreement, approved by the Planning Director or designee, to maintain the fence at the said owner-applicant’s expense and remove the fence at the said owner-applicant’s expense if required by the City for any reason, or a public utility in order to work in the right-of-way.
6. The owner-applicant proposing the fence shall also comply with all requirements of Chapter 12.12 SMC, Right-of-Way Use Permit.
C. Electrical Fences. All electrical fences shall:
1. Be located at least two feet from the property line and shall not be located in the right-of-way.
2. Use an interrupted flow of current at intervals of one second on and two seconds off.
3. Be limited to 2,000 volts at 17 mill amperes current.
4. Require a “U.L. Approved” seal.
5. Be posted with permanent signs with a minimum area of 36 square inches at intervals of not more than 50 feet stating that the fence is electrified.
D. Fences and Decorative Freestanding Walls in Single-Family, Residential, Parks, Open Space and Public Land Use Designation Areas. Fences/freestanding walls constructed in Single-Family, Residential, Parks, Open Space and Public use designation areas shall comply with the following requirements:
1. Electrical fences and fences with barbed wire, razor wire, concertina wire, or similar products are prohibited.
2. Within front yard setback area.
a. Solid Fence. No higher than three feet unless it connects side fences to the structure.
b. Open Fence. Up to five feet if it does not create a sight obstruction.
3. If located within a side yard setback area the maximum allowed height shall be six feet except fences located in a side yard setback area on the street side of a corner lot shall also be required to meet the sight clearance requirements for intersections as set forth in SMC 14.210.160.
E. Fences and Decorative Freestanding Walls in Commercial and Industrial Land Use Designation Areas. The maximum allowed height of fences/freestanding walls constructed in Commercial and Industrial land use designation areas shall be eight feet and shall comply with the adopted design standards applicable to where the fence/freestanding wall is located.
F. Fences and Decorative Freestanding Walls in the Urban Horticulture Land Use Designation Area. The maximum allowed height of fences/freestanding walls in the Urban Horticulture land use designation area shall be seven feet on any part of the lot (including within the buildable area).
G. Fences and Decorative Freestanding Walls in the Historic District. Fences constructed in the Historic District shall comply with the Design Standards and Guidelines for the City’s Historic District.
H. Retaining Walls and Rockeries.
1. Retaining wall and rockery installations in all land use designation areas shall comply with the adopted City of Snohomish Design Standards and development regulations which are applicable to the area where the retaining wall is located, except that:
a. There shall not be a maximum height limit on retaining walls and rockeries located in the buildable area of a lot. However, the height of retaining walls and rockeries in the buildable area of a lot shall be the lowest necessary to achieve its intended functional purpose. If the proposed wall or rockery height exceeds the height limitation for the land use designation area where it is located it must be reviewed and approved by the Planning Director or designee on a project-by-project basis.
b. The maximum height limit on retaining walls and rockeries located in a setback area shall be six feet.
2. Except as otherwise provided below, retaining wall permits shall be required for all retaining walls. The permit application shall include a site plan, drawn to scale, which shows:
a. The entire project site and all property lines; and
b. Areas within 50 feet of the proposed retaining wall/rockery even if that includes adjacent properties; and
c. All structures, including existing retaining walls and rockeries, within 50 feet of the proposed wall/rockery; and
d. Existing topography with contour lines at two-foot vertical intervals. Topographical data obtained from public records is acceptable; and
e. The materials proposed for use in construction; and
f. The location of the proposed wall/rockery with all dimensions necessary to describe its location, depth, and height; and
g. A cross section showing the wall/rockery and provisions for drainage.
3. If the Building Official determines it is necessary, structural calculations and/or a geotechnical report prepared by a licensed professional engineer legally entitled to practice in the State of Washington shall be submitted with the application.
4. A Type 1 retaining wall permit shall be required for retaining walls/rockeries four feet or less in height.
a. Only retaining walls/rockeries that do not require structural calculation and/or a drainage system are eligible for a Type 1 permit.
b. If a series of retaining walls/rockeries four feet or less in height where the slope measured from the bottom of the lowest retaining wall/rockery to the top of the highest retaining wall/rockery is greater than 1.5 feet horizontal to 1.0 feet vertical, then a Type 2 retaining wall permit shall be required.
5. A Type 2 retaining wall permit may be required for all retaining walls/rockeries greater than four feet in height.
a. Type 2 retaining wall permits shall require submittal of a:
i. Geotechnical report; and
ii. Structural calculations; and
iii. Drainage system behind wall.
b. The City Engineer may require additional submittals for Type 2 retaining wall permits.
6. Private retaining walls/rockeries shall not be located in City rights-of-way except as may be otherwise provided in the Snohomish Municipal Code.
7. The height of a retaining wall/rockery shall be measured from the lowest part of the wall/rockery or wall/rockery footing to the highest part of the wall/rockery at every location along the wall/rockery.
8. No part of a retaining wall/rockery may extend into an adjacent lot.
9. Guardrails required to be placed at the top of retaining walls/rockeries, pursuant to the City-adopted building codes, shall be permitted as part of the wall/rockery, and shall not be considered to be a fence or part of the wall/rockery height.
10. A retaining wall may terminate at a property line; provided, that it must abut a retaining wall on the adjacent property and is structurally independent from such wall.
a. Permits shall not be required for fences or freestanding walls two feet or less in height.
b. The City may waive the requirement for a retaining wall permit when:
i. Every part of the wall/rockery is set back at least five feet from all property lines; and
ii. The wall/rockery is no greater than four feet in height; and
iii. The wall/rockery is not load bearing; and
iv. The wall/rockery does not affect the structural integrity of adjacent structures; and
v. Such waiver is made in writing by the Planning Director or designee.
c. Permits shall not be required for retaining walls within new plats that are reviewed and approved by the City as part of the plat improvements.
I. Variances. All requests for variances from the requirements of this chapter shall be processed as a minor variance as provided for in SMC 14.70.020. (Ord. 2325, 2017; Ord. 2379, 2020)