Click on the logos below to find out more about the City’s efforts to make development in Ferndale fair, predictable, and innovative, and check back regularly for updates!
Regulations have become increasingly complex – resulting in more review time, less certainty, and more cost.
Ferndale has reduced red tape by:
- Reducing public hearing requirements: most reviews are completed on an administrative level.
- Removing politics: the City Council does not make project-specific land use decisions.
- Expanding transparency: applicants can view the progress of their applications online.
- Enabling electronic review and submittal of many development applications. Coming soon: online payment options!
- New regulations: many cities maintain regulations that are decades old; in Ferndale nearly every regulation has been updated in the last five years.
- Adoption of “Lean” government approaches in an effort to constantly improve and streamline processes.
No City regulation can remain in effect forever; times change and so should laws. When jurisdictions continue to regulate based on codes created decades ago, it becomes nearly impossible to explain the vision of the community, or its requirements. Ferndale’s regulations are new and innovative – reflecting our current vision and clearly articulating that vision for development:
- Ferndale is one of the only cities in Washington State to update nearly all of its development and land use regulations since the Great Recession.
- The City’s Development Standards were completely updated in 2017 and are placed in a searchable format online.
- The majority of the City’s zones emphasize flexible design requirements and allow a wide range of uses – trending away from traditional zoning that is intended to separate uses from one another.
- Performance and form-based zoning has become the norm in Ferndale, permitting applicants to concentrate on good design and environmental protection.
- Staff has been empowered to speak directly to applicants and to consider alternatives to conventional design. Through this process, applicants are able to meet directly with decision-makers.
FLEXIBLE UTILITY FEES
Ferndale does not have the lowest utility and impact fees. In fact, in some cases Ferndale’s default fees are higher than surrounding jurisdictions.
So why advertise this fact? Two reasons:
- Planning Ahead is Key. Ferndale takes long-range planning seriously so that the services the City provides now remain available in the future. By planning ahead, the City can roll out expansions and improvements proactively, rather than react to crises as they come up.
- Conservation Works! The need for new or expanded services is based on increased demand as a result of growth. But when new developments can be designed to take advantage of new technologies or approaches that reduce the use of water, sewer, transportation and more, fees and long-term costs go down dramatically. In some instances, developments have reduced fees by up to 80% through these measures!
NO BUSINESS AND OPERATIONS TAX
Business and Operations (B&O) taxes are used by many cities – and Washington State – in lieu of a State income tax. In fact, Washington is the only state that taxes business in this way. These taxes are usually charged whether a business makes money or not – potentially harming small businesses and start-up companies. Some cities offer exemptions or tax reductions to avoid these issues.
Ferndale doesn’t do business in this way, and Ferndale’s leaders know that B&O taxes are bad for business. After all, the best exemption from the tax is simply not to have the tax in the first place – for any business.
- Washington State cities with B&O taxes
- Seattle Business Magazine article on B&O taxes
Perhaps no city in Washington State is better-positioned to accomodate additional growth along Interstate Five. Ferndale’s Urban Growth Area (UGA) places it directly in the path of progress!
- Check available commercial properties in Ferndale!
- Ferndale’s land prices are 10-50% lower than similar-priced land in Bellingham, while serving a near-identical market.
- Visit the City’s Mapping Tools to view information related to specific land parcels
- Interested in finding out more about Ferndale? Contact City Staff, the Ferndale Chamber of Commerce, or the Ferndale Downtown Association to schedule a visit!