Effective Oct. 1, some standards are new as city grows, for consistency, attractiveness 

LYNDEN ­— What started with planning for a new Pepin Creek neighborhood became a look at all of Lynden’s residential design standards, and an all-around overhaul.

The end result is a new section in city code that pulls together and updates many aspects of how dwellings are to be built, starting Oct. 1, when it all becomes effective.

Planning Director Heidi Gudde said new Section 19.22 will be accessible online at: https://www.lyndenwa.org/planning/zoning/. Or a copy may be obtained at the city Planning Department, second floor of City Hall, 300 Fourth St.

Not all is new. Much on design standards is transferred from where it was in scattered areas of the existing code, Gudde said. The goal was to consolidate the standards to be both simple and consistent throughout the city, she said.

Some things are clarified, for instance, what is meant by “temporary” shelter for vehicles.

Growth of Lynden has tended to bring smaller lots but not necessarily smaller houses or fewer vehicles, Gudde said. With less “breathing room,” it’s more important to have attractive architecture and landscape, street trees and screening of mechanical equipment to create “an orderly and appealing streetscape,” she said.

Multi-family developments are part of this, too, with adequate landscaping and not over-dominant parking.

“The city is blessed with many talented contractors and generally we are seeing very attractive homes,” Gudde said. “We don’t anticipate that builders will need to make significant changes to the home models they are currently constructing.”

One area that is especially addressed, however, is how far a garage can extend in front of a home. Generally, this will be no more than 12 feet. And that thinking is consistent with theories of public safety that say the more homeowner eyes closer to the street, the greater the safeguard against crime, Gudde noted.

Variances from the standards can be sought with the city’s Design Review Board. This recognizes that there can be creative and attractive designs that don’t always fit within specific code.  

These are highlights of the changes in new city code Chapter 19.22:

  • Duplexes will now need Design Review Board approval.
  • At least two other homes must separate the same architectural elevation.
  • Attached garages cannot extend forward of a home’s living space by more than 12 feet.
  • Detached garages may be up to 12 feet forward of the house under certain conditions.
  • The lineal frontage of a house occupied by garage doors is limited.
  • The use of architectural elements on walls facing a public street or shared easement is limited.
  • Screening of mechanical equipment is required. 

These changes have already been in effect for some time, since April 1 in some cases:

  • Setbacks are now measured from foundations rather than eaves.
  • Eaves and bay windows may encroach into setbacks up to two feet.
  • Roof structures over patios and decks are permitted within rear setbacks subject to certain conditions.
  • Accessory Dwelling Units can be larger and located in detached structures under certain conditions.
  • Residential “Foundation Only” permits will be issued by administrative approval based solely on weather-related factors.
  • Structural engineering is required on homes of more than 4,000 square feet and multi-family structures of three or more dwelling units.