Hearing set for huge proposed bed-and-breakfast on East Sequim Bay Road

A massive structure proposed as a bed-and-breakfast for East Sequim Bay Road will go before the Clallam County Building Code Board of Appeals on Monday.

The board will deliberate and render a decision on an appeal of an administrative determination that the 32,000-square-foot structure is an R1 boarding house with 10 or more transient occupants, county Community Development Director Mary Ellen Winborn said.

At issue is whether the building permit for Judy Lee’s proposed bed-and-breakfast should be reviewed under the uniform residential code or the uniform building code, Port Angeles Attorney Craig Miller said.

Key component

“This is obviously one of the key components of the building permit,” said Miller, one of Lee’s attorneys.

Lee’s position is that the structure she plans to build at 695 E. Sequim Bay Road should be reviewed under the residential code, Miller said.

But Clallam County Building Official Annette Warren determined Sept. 23 that the application should be reviewed under the uniform building code, which has more stringent design standards.

“She made a great call,” Winborn said.

“It’s really important that you get the occupancy correct, because that’s when your safety measures come into play.”

The Board of Appeals conducted a public hearing on the contested determination Nov. 28. It will begin its Monday deliberations at 6 p.m. in Room 160 at the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St., Port Angeles.

Should the Building Code Board of Appeals uphold the county’s determination, Lee could file an appeal in Superior Court.

The proposed bed-and-breakfast has drawn opposition from neighbors concerned about its size.

The steel structure would be larger than the Quality Inn & Suites in Sequim and the Clallam County Public Utility District headquarters in Carlsborg.

Clallam County has no permanent zoning that limits the size of buildings in rural residential areas such as East Sequim Bay.

In response to the proposed bed-and-breakfast, which had been described by some as a hotel, Clallam County commissioners enacted July 26 an emergency ordinance limiting buildings in rural residential zones to 10,000 square feet.

By that time, Lee’s building permit application had been vested by the Department of Community Development, meaning it is not subject to the new size restriction.

In an Oct. 25 memo to the Board of Appeals, attorneys representing Lee argued that the county’s determination “depends on mistaken facts as well as an erroneous interpretation” of the codes.

Steve Gillespie of Foster Pepper, a Seattle law firm, signed a letter requesting that the Board of Appeals reverse Warren’s determination and process Lee’s application under the International Residential Code.

The residential code governs one- and two-family dwellings that do not exceed three stories above the ground, Gillespie said in the memo.

Lee, who now lives in Los Angeles, plans to build a three-story, single-family house with a basement where she and her husband will live.

The second floor will contain five guestrooms for bed-and-breakfast guests and a tea room, lounge and business center for guests and Lee’s family, according to the memo.

Other floors will contain bedrooms and other living space for Lee and her family, Gillespie said.

“That Ms. Lee and her husband also intend to operate a bed-and-breakfast in their home does not alter the fact that their project is a ‘one-family dwelling,’ ” Gillespie wrote.

Under county code, bed-and-breakfasts are defined as a single-family dwellings occupied by the owner or manager with five or fewer rooms for overnight accommodations.

Up to five guestrooms are permitted in owner-occupied “lodging houses” under the International Residential Code, as long as they are equipped with fire sprinklers.

“The bed and breakfast will have five or fewer guestrooms and the structure will be fully sprinklered,” Gillespie wrote.

The International Building Code does not apply to single-family homes.

Gillespie argued that Lee’s project should not be classified as a boarding house because she and her husband will live in the building.

The 2.9-acre parcel is owned by Dzogchen, Lee’s Los Angeles-based LLC. The parcel was purchased in May for $400,000, according to the county Assessor’s Office.

After agreeing to process the application as a residence, the Department of Community Development “changed its position” and required Lee to submit an application for a commercial building permit, Gillespie said.

DCD agreed to review Lee’s project under the International Residential Code in August, only to reverse that decision in September, he added.

Gillespie alleged that DCD took “legally erroneous” positions in its dealings with Lee.

“In light of the shifting justifications for not commencing review of her application, with no end in sight, Ms. Lee was left with no choice but to appeal to this board,” Gillespie wrote.

In addition to the building permit, Lee is seeking other approvals for a short plat alteration, stormwater plan and permits for road approach, septic, drainage and erosion.

Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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