Historic District Design Standards Update

The City of Snohomish Design Review Board (DRB) has been working for several years on an update to the Historic District Design Standards. These standards are intended to promote awareness of the City's heritage; to protect the City's heritage by controlling alterations and demolitions; to rehabilitate and reuse historic structures; to encourage new construction in keeping with the City's historic character; and to attract visitors to Snohomish.  The existing standards were adopted in 2000 and updated in 2003.

Property owners and businesses were asked to review the draft materials and provide comment in September/October 2017.  These comments were discussed by the DRB at the November 8, 2017 regular meeting.  The Board recommended approval of the updated standards with minor revisions as a result of that meeting.  The City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing to consider adoption of the new standards on December 5, 2017.

Some of the major changes in the draft documents (available in pdf format at the bottom of this page) are highlighted below.


• Standards broken into sections, with new construction separate from alterations made to existing buildings.
• More detailed description of the review process.
• More illustrative images added in each section.
• Intent statements added to each section.
• More information on identifying architectural character and guidance on restoration.
• More emphasis on preservation of important existing features and making alterations to existing buildings appropriate for the building’s style.
• Standards for existing buildings (residential and commercial) broken up by architectural element.
• Clarified standards for additions, based on the location on the site/building of the proposed addition.
• New standards added to allow installation of solar panels and other new technology.
• Clarified standards for fences, walls, and handrails/guardrails.
• Revised plant lists for landscaping and street tree standards, with emphasis on native plants.
• Informational appendix added with residential architectural styles of Snohomish, and common features of each.


• Minimum roof pitch requirement replaced with different standards for various roof types.
• Residential new construction standards focus on scale, not making a new home look “old”.
• Minimum porch depth added – 6ft.
• Minimum glazing on front façade added – 20% of façade area.
• Attached garage offset added – 8 feet from living area front façade.
• New standards added for garages and accessory structures, recognizing they are subordinate to the primary structure.


• Clarified parking lot screening requirements.
• Minimum height for street-facing façades – 2 stories.
• Minimum ground floor height – 12 feet.
• Minimum glazing requirement for ground floor windows – 65% of first floor façade.
• New standards added for outdoor cafés.
• New pre-approval program for certain types of signs, where no DRB approval is required.
• New allowances for neon signs.
• Internally illuminated cabinet signs only allowed if projecting from the wall.
• Multi-family standards incorporated into commercial standards, with exceptions for window area and other ground level details.
• New guidance for murals.

Materials related to this project are available for review. The Board's analysis of the current document may be viewed by clicking this link.

Please contact Associate Planner Brooke Eidem with questions or comments regarding this project, or the materials provided below.