Chapter 20.36
RURAL (R) DISTRICT

Sections:

20.36.010    Purpose.

20.36.050    Permitted uses.

20.36.100    Accessory uses.

20.36.130    Administrative approval uses.

20.36.140    Pre-existing multifamily farmworker housing exemption.

20.36.150    Conditional uses.

20.36.200    Prohibited uses.

20.36.250    Maximum density, minimum lot size and width.

20.36.251    Minimum lot size and maximum density.

20.36.252    Rural residential density overlay.

20.36.253    Maximum density and minimum lot size.

20.36.254    Minimum lot width and depth.

20.36.300    Lot clustering, reserve area and reserve tract.

20.36.305    Lot clustering. (Adopted by reference in WCCP Chapter 2.)

20.36.310    Design standards. (Adopted by reference in WCCP Chapter 2.)

20.36.315    Reserve area.

20.36.320    Reserve tract. (Adopted by reference in WCCP Chapter 2.)

20.36.350    Building setbacks.

20.36.400    Height limitations.

20.36.450    Lot coverage. (Adopted by reference in WCCP Chapter 2.)

20.36.650    Development criteria.

20.36.651    Plat language for proposed subdivisions.

20.36.652    Use of natural resources.

20.36.653    Landscaping.

20.36.654    Parking requirements.

20.36.655    Livestock regulations.

20.36.656    Drainage.

20.36.010 Purpose.

The purpose of the Rural District is to maintain the low density rural residential character of the areas designated as rural and rural neighborhood on the Comprehensive Plan map and implement the Comprehensive Plan policies that define the rural character in Whatcom County in accordance with RCW 36.70A.070(5). In addition, it is the intent of this district to allow a variety of low intensity uses that are compatible and complementary with the conservation of agricultural, forestry and related uses. (Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011; Ord. 98-083 Exh. A § 37, 1998; Ord. 82-58, 1982).

20.36.050 Permitted uses.

Subject to the provisions of Chapter 20.38 WCC, Agriculture Protection Overlay Zone, unless otherwise provided herein, permitted, accessory and conditional uses shall be administered pursuant to the applicable provisions of Chapter 20.80 WCC (Supplementary Requirements) and Chapter 20.84 WCC (Variances, Conditional Uses and Appeals).

.051 One single-family detached dwelling per lot.

.052 Agriculture including animal husbandry, horticulture, viticulture, floriculture and beekeeping; and the cultivation of crops.

.053 Sod farming; provided, that removal of such material does not exceed 500 cubic yards of soil per year.

.054 Fish farms, and aquaculture and mariculture projects; provided, that no new seafood or fish-raising facilities or ponds shall be located within 1,000 feet of agricultural operations requiring pesticide, and/or herbicide applications as part of their normal farm practices.

.055 Small wood lot management, tree farming, commercial forestry and reforestation, including the temporary use of portable management harvesting or processing equipment.

.056 Private, noncommercial, recreation occupancy of a recreational vehicle; provided, that the following minimum requirements and standards are met and/or followed:

(1) Maximum length of stay of any recreational vehicle on a lot shall not exceed a total of 120 days per calendar year; provided, that no accessory guest RV shall remain on the subject lot for more than 14 consecutive days nor more than 30 days total per calendar year.

(2) If the subject lot is located within:

(a) Rural, one dwelling unit per two acres (R2A), one recreational vehicle and one accessory guest RV per lot shall be allowed.

(b) Rural, one dwelling unit per five acres (R5A), or rural, one dwelling unit per 10 acres (R10A), one recreational vehicle and one accessory guest RV may be allowed per each additional two acres of the subject lot. The total number of recreational vehicles on a single lot at one time shall not exceed five.

(3) In the case of a special event or occasion:

(a) Any proponent of a temporary special event which requires a total allowable number of RVs that exceeds the standard maximum allowed, shall file an affidavit with the department of planning and development services which specifies the nature of the special event, location, the specified days of the proposed use and the sanitation and wastewater disposal facilities proposed for the event.

(b) The duration of the temporary special event shall include the days the use is being set up and established as well as when the event actually takes place.

(c) A parcel shall host no more than three temporary special events within a calendar year; provided, that the time periods specified in subsection (1) of this section are not exceeded.

(4) All recreational vehicles that remain on the site for more than 14 consecutive days shall be connected to a permitted on-site sewage system or public sewer or shall provide documentation that wastewater was removed by a licensed sanitary disposal service.

(5) All recreational vehicles shall be screened from neighboring properties not using RVs and from public roads. Such screening may consist of landscaped buffer areas, suitable native vegetation or a fence.

(6) Lots shall not be leased or rented out on a daily or overnight basis for recreational use.

(7) The locations of parked RVs on vacant lots shall observe normal building setback standards for a single-family residence.

(8) All recreational vehicles shall be supported by their own wheels or camper jacks, and not be fastened to accessory structures. Placement of a recreational vehicle on a foundation or removal of the wheels of a recreational vehicle, except for temporary purposes for repair, is prohibited.

.057 Noncommercial extraction of sand, gravel or both for farm enhancement purposes; provided all materials extracted remain on land owned or leased by the farmer for agricultural purposes.

.058 Gravel bar scalping projects within the jurisdiction of the Shoreline Management Program.

.060 Public uses associated with government office buildings; public works maintenance yards or facilities, such as shops; storage buildings; and athletic fields and associated facilities if located within the current county complex at Northwest and Smith Roads. Other government or quasi-government uses of similar or complementary types would also be allowed if such uses are compatible with the character of existing facilities and the surrounding neighborhood. Facilities that do not conform to the current pattern of use, including, but not limited to, jail facilities or hazardous waste facilities, that could reasonably be expected to arouse the concern or alarm of the public, or that are incompatible with the surrounding neighborhood, shall require normal conditional use review.

.061 One one-story detached accessory storage building per lot; provided, that the floor area shall not exceed 200 square feet and shall only be used for personal storage and not for habitation or business; and provided further, that the storage building shall contain no indoor plumbing but may be served with electrical power for lighting.

.062 Reserved.

.064 Public parks and recreation facilities included in an adopted city or county Comprehensive Plan or Park Plan.

.065 Trails, trailheads, restroom facilities and associated parking areas for no more than 30 vehicles.

.088 Adult family homes as defined in Chapter 70.128 RCW.

.089 Boarding homes that are similar in size, facilities and occupancy to other residential structures permitted in the zoning district.

.090 Mental health facilities that provide residential treatment and are similar in size, facilities and occupancy to other residential structures permitted in the zoning district.

.091 Substance abuse facilities that provide residential treatment and are similar in size, facilities and occupancy to other residential structures permitted in the zoning district.

.092 Within rural communities and urban growth areas only, public schools; and parochial or private schools; provided such schools shall be approved by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. (Ord. 2016-011 § 1 (Exhs. I, Q), 2016; Ord. 2015-006 Exh. A, 2015; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011; Ord. 2005-079 § 1, 2005; Ord. 2004-026 § 1, 2004; Ord. 2004-014 § 2, 2004; Ord. 2000-040 § 1, 2000; Ord. 99-068, 1999; Ord. 99-062, 1999; Ord. 99-035 § 1, 1999; Ord. 98-083 Exh. A § 38, 1998; Ord. 97-069, 1997; Ord. 92-079, 1992; Ord. 88-29, 1988).

20.36.100 Accessory uses.

.101 Home occupations pursuant to WCC 20.80.970.

.102 Private noncommercial boat docks, launches, ramps, floats, moorages and boathouses pursuant to the Whatcom County Shoreline Management Program.

.103 Other accessory uses incidental to the primary permitted uses.

.104 Temporary dwelling units which have full living accommodations including sleeping, self-contained cooking, bathing, and toilet facilities where the plumbing is connected to permanent site sewage and water systems, including those travel trailers and recreational vehicles that meet the above description, for use by owners during the period of construction of a permanent dwelling while building permit is valid, not to exceed two years.

.105 (1) The usual wholesale marketing activities associated with the agricultural, aquacultural, forestry, and mineral resource uses permitted in this district.

(2) Retail marketing, by the operator, of Whatcom County products which originate from the permitted uses stated in WCC 20.36.052 and 20.36.055 provided:

(a) Only one stand containing not more than 500 square feet of floor area shall be permitted;

(b) Such stand shall be subject to the setback requirements of WCC 20.80.200; and

(c) Such stand shall be provided with a sufficient area to permit at least five automobiles to park safely off the road right-of-way and to re-enter the traffic in a forward motion.

.106 Utilization of sewage sludge on land when regulated by a utilization permit issued by the Bellingham-Whatcom County district department of public health in accordance with WAC 173-304-300. This would apply to any land owned or leased by the same operator.

.107 On-site treatment and storage facilities for hazardous wastes associated with outright permitted uses or approved conditional uses subject to the most current siting criteria under Chapter 173-303 WAC.

.108 Family day care homes.

.109 Bed and breakfast establishments. (Ord. 2016-011 § 1 (Exh. D), 2016; Ord. 2010-030 § 1 (Exh. A), 2010; Ord. 2009-034 § 1 (Att. A), 2009; Ord. 2009-033 § 1 (Att. A), 2009; Ord. 96-056 Att. A § H1, 1996; Ord. 89-10, 1989; Ord. 87-84, 1987; Ord. 87-23, 1987; Ord. 87-12, 1987; Ord. 87-11, 1987).

20.36.130 Administrative approval uses.

The following uses are permitted subject to administrative approval pursuant to WCC 20.84.235.

.131 A temporary second dwelling unit of no more than 1,248 square feet in floor area, in the form of a manufactured home, a fully serviced travel trailer or motor home, to provide:

(1) A temporary dwelling space for family members who, due to professionally documented physical or mental disorders, or risks of such disorders, require supervision and care where such care is provided by members of the family who reside on the property; or

(2) A temporary dwelling space for a person providing care for the resident owner of the subject property when said owner needs supervision and care as described in (1) above.

Approval Requirements:

Administrative approval for temporary second dwelling units shall be approved if it is determined that the proposal meets the following requirements:

(1) Temporary second dwelling units shall only be permitted on fully serviced parcels on which the applicant can meet setback, ingress, egress, height restrictions, and lot coverage requirements.

(2) The size of the temporary dwelling shall be appropriate to the use and size of the parcel and shall be limited so as to comply with the standards set forth in (1) above.

(3) The temporary home shall be connected to an approved water supply and adequate capacity sewage disposal system approved by the Whatcom County health department.

(4) When care is no longer necessary, the temporary home shall be removed within 60 days.

(5) The permit shall be valid for one year. The permit may be extended on a yearly basis; provided, that an affidavit is furnished by the permittee affirming that the circumstances allowing the original permit remain in effect.

(6) A covenant shall be filed that restricts sale of the property while the temporary dwelling is in place.

(7) The use will not be hazardous or disturbing to existing or future neighboring uses.

(8) Evidence of adequate off-street parking space shall be provided.

(9) There shall be no occupancy of the temporary dwelling outside the conditions under which the temporary dwelling is permitted pursuant to this section.

(10) All mobile homes must demonstrate compliance with minimum HUD Fire Safety Standards and compliance with current Washington Administrative Code (WAC).

Penalties: False statements on supporting documentation submitted with the application or failure to comply with any of the approval requirements may be cause for revocation of the permit and prosecution.

.132 Accessory apartments or detached accessory dwelling units to single-family dwellings; provided, that all of the following requirements are met:

(1) In addition to an existing or permitted dwelling, there shall be no more than one accessory apartment or detached accessory dwelling unit per lot;

(2) The owner(s) of the single-family lot upon which the accessory apartment or detached accessory dwelling unit is located shall occupy as their primary domicile at least one of the dwelling units on that lot;

(3) Proof that adequate provisions have been made for potable water, wastewater disposal, and stormwater runoff for the additional dwelling unit must be obtained prior to application for a building permit;

(4) There shall be only one front entrance to the house visible from the front yard and street for houses with accessory apartments and only one additional entrance visible from the front yard for detached accessory dwelling units;

(5) Accessory apartments and detached accessory units shall be clearly a subordinate part of an existing residence;

(6) In no case shall an accessory apartment or detached dwelling unit be larger than 1,248 square feet in floor area;

(7) Long plats and short plats which are granted after January 25, 1994, shall be marked, specifically designating lots allowed to be developed with accessory apartments or detached accessory dwelling units at the option of the developer for future individual owners. Accessory apartments and detached accessory dwelling units shall be prohibited on:

(a) All lots in long plats which received preliminary plat approval after January 25, 1994, unless those lots have been specifically marked for such use through the long plat process;

(b) All lots within short plats which received approval after January 25, 1994, unless those lots have been specifically marked for such use through the short plat process;

(c) All reserve tracts within long plats and short plats created by the cluster subdivision method;

(8) A common driveway serving both the existing unit and any accessory unit shall be used to the greatest extent possible;

(9) A deed restriction is recorded with the Whatcom County auditor prior to building permit issuance, stating:

(a) Detached accessory dwelling units and associated land cannot be financed or sold separately from the original dwelling, except in the event the zoning permits such a land division; and

(b) One of the dwellings must be the primary domicile of the owner;

(10) Outside of an urban growth area, the minimum lot size for detached accessory units shall be on a lot of record no less than 4.5 acres, unless the parcel is large enough to accommodate two dwelling units consistent with the underlying zoning density;

(11) Accessory apartments and detached accessory dwelling units to single-family dwellings are allowed within the Lake Whatcom watershed, only under the following circumstances:

(a) Development of the parcel with the primary residence and accessory apartment or detached accessory dwelling shall conform to the density of the zoning district in which it is located. Adjacent properties in the same ownership may be bound by covenant to comply with the underlying zoning density; and

(b) All of the above approval requirements shall be met for so long as the accessory unit remains;

(12) Detached accessory dwelling units shall be located so as to minimize visual impact to the public right-of-way and to adjacent properties. Location in immediate proximity to the primary residence is preferred. Location closer to property lines than to the primary residence may be considered by the administrator when such location serves the goal of reducing overall visual impact to public right-of-way and adjacent properties, and such location still meets the setback requirements as stated in Chapter 20.80 WCC. To minimize environmental and visual impact the applicant may be required to provide fencing and/or planting to screen the unit from public right-of-way and adjacent properties;

(13) All mobile homes must demonstrate compliance with minimum HUD Fire Safety Standards and compliance with Washington Administrative Code (WAC).

.133 Repealed by Ord. 2015-016.

.134 Mini-day care homes.

.135 Cottage industries employing no more than two on-site people other than family members residing on the premises; provided, that in addition to the criteria found in WCC 20.84.220 and 20.80.980:

(1) The zoning administrator, at his or her discretion, may place limitations on the square footage in an existing or new structure used for a cottage industry and construction of new buildings to house said activity shall not, in any case, exceed 2,500 square feet of total floor area. The total land area used for buildings and outside storage or other uses related to the cottage industry shall not exceed 10,000 square feet or 25 percent of the site, whichever is less.

(2) The parcel size shall not be less than one acre.

(3) In the event materials will be stored outdoors, the zoning administrator shall require adequate landscaping, screening, or other devices in order that the material will not be visible by surrounding uses or roads.

(4) One nonilluminated sign, not to exceed eight square feet in size, mounted on the property, is permitted. A larger sign up to 32 square feet may be approved by the hearing examiner as a conditional use.

(5) Seasonal employees working less than 21 days per year will not be counted as employees if they are engaged in work directly related to agriculture or forestry.

.136 In R5A and R10A zoning districts, the processing of agricultural products that originate from the permitted uses in WCC 20.40.050, provided the following criteria are met:

(1) The facility is not a slaughterhouse or mushroom substrate production facility.

(2) The facility is supplemental and related to the primary permitted use.

(3) The facility processes at least 50 percent agricultural goods produced in Whatcom County and which originate from permitted uses.

(4) The facility employs no more than 10 permanent employees.

(5) The facility does not exceed 10,000 square feet in proposed and existing buildings (as defined by WCC 20.97.035) devoted to agricultural processing.

.137 Marijuana production facility; provided, that in addition to the criteria found in WCC 20.80.690 through 20.80.694:

(1) The facility shall not be located within 1,000 feet of a community center. The distance shall be measured as the shortest straight line distance from the property line of the proposed building/business location to the property line of the community center. The zoning administrator may waive this spacing requirement from community centers if the authorized representatives of all existing community centers within 1,000 feet provide a notarized written agreement as provided by the department consenting to the facility.

(2) The facility shall not be located within 300 feet of any existing residential unit not located on the same parcel as the facility. The distance shall be measured as the shortest straight line distance from the closest point of a single-family dwelling (structure) to any structure or fence used for the production of marijuana. The zoning administrator may waive this spacing requirement from residential units if the owners of all existing residential units within 300 feet provide a notarized written agreement as provided by the department consenting to the facility.

(3) On parcels smaller than four and one-half acres the facility shall not exceed a total of 2,000 square feet, except where the facility is contained within a building that existed on the effective date of the ordinance codified in this section.

.138 Marijuana processing facility; provided, that in addition to the criteria found in WCC 20.80.690 through 20.80.694 and WCC 20.84.235:

(1) The facility is accessory to the on-site production of marijuana.

(2) The facility shall not be located within 300 feet of any existing residential unit not located on the same parcel as the facility. The distance shall be measured as the shortest straight line distance from the closest point of a single-family dwelling (structure) to any structure or fence used for the processing of marijuana. The zoning administrator may waive this spacing requirement if the owners of all existing residential units within 300 feet provide a notarized written agreement as provided by the department consenting to the facility.

(3) On parcels smaller than four and one-half acres the total area used for marijuana processing and production shall not exceed 2,000 square feet, except where the facility is contained within a building that existed on the effective date of the ordinance codified in this section. (Ord. 2017-038 § 1 (Exh. A), 2017; Ord. 2016-011 § 1 (Exhs. D, I), 2016; Ord. 2015-016 Exh. A, 2015; Ord. 2015-006 Exh. A, 2015; Ord. 2010-016 § 1 (Exh. A), 2010; Ord. 2009-034 § 1 (Att. A), 2009; Ord. 2006-061 § 1 (Att. A)(7), 2006; Ord. 2006-048 § 1 (Exh. A), 2006; Ord. 2005-079 § 1, 2005; Ord. 2001-012 § 1, 2001; Ord. 99-068, 1999; Ord. 98-018 § 1, 1998; Ord. 97-069, 1997; Ord. 95-031, 1995; Ord. 91-009, 1991; Ord. 87-12, 1987; Ord. 87-11, 1987).

20.36.140 Pre-existing multifamily farmworker housing exemption.1

This section recognizes the existence of multifamily farmworker housing located within the Rural Zone and the need to retain existing multifamily farmworker housing whenever possible to maintain the necessary infrastructure for the local farm economy. This section allows for the transfer of ownership of existing multifamily farmworker housing developments to recognized not-for-profit housing agencies or individuals or enterprises whose primary business is agricultural production by administrative approval when the following criteria are met:

(1) The structure(s) were constructed before January 1, 1990, within the Rural Zoning District, for the purpose of providing multifamily full-time or part-time accommodation of individuals and their families engaged in farm work as their primary employment.

(2) The minimum parcel size shall comply with the specific Rural acreage designation (R5A, R10A) but shall not be less than five acres.

(3) The parcel was created by short plat or exempt subdivision pursuant to the requirements of WCC Title 21, Land Division Regulations.

(4) The structure was constructed in accordance with all building, health, safety and land use requirements in effect at the time of original construction.

(5) There is evidence of adequate potable water and sewage disposal.

(6) The development shall retain all the specified components and amenities as identified in the original permit approval. Units originally approved as part-time units may be established as full-time units if the administrator finds that adequate services and local infrastructure are available to accommodate the conversion and the approval of such conversions will not seriously alter the existing or future neighborhood uses.

(7) Restrictions on the title of the parcel containing the multifamily development which:

(a) Restrict future use of the structure as multifamily housing for farmworkers and their families for the life of the structure;

(b) Restrict sale of the structure to not-for-profit housing agencies, or individuals or enterprises whose primary business is agricultural production. (Ord. 2006-049 § 1 (Exh. A), 2006; Ord. 2003-021).

20.36.150 Conditional uses.

Items indicated by an “*” are not allowed outside rural communities and urban growth areas unless the applicant can demonstrate that there is a need to locate outside those areas in order to comply with legal requirements or standards; or that the proposed location is the most efficient place for the proposed use with respect to providing needed services to the public.

.151 Public and community facilities including police and fire stations, libraries, community centers, recreation facilities, and other similar noncommercial uses, excluding correction facilities.*

.152 Outside rural communities and urban growth areas only, public schools; and parochial or private schools; provided such schools shall be approved by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.*

.153 Churches, educational and religious training institutions, summer camps and cemeteries.

.154 Retirement and convalescent homes; social and health rehabilitation centers; day care centers; mini-day care centers; and adult care centers not in a family dwelling; and other health-related services consistent with the purpose of the district.*

.155 Animal hospitals and accessory kennels and stables provided:

(1) No building or animal enclosure shall be located closer than 50 feet from the external property lines;

(2) Such facilities must have a waste disposal program approved by the county health department; and

(3) Such facilities shall be operated at all times in a manner specifically designed to prevent the use of the facilities from becoming a nuisance, either public or private; and the hearing examiner shall require of the applicant a detailed program to minimize potential annoying effects; said program to be recorded as one of the conditions attached to the permit.

.156 Commercial kennels and stables intended for the boarding or training of domestic animals.

.157 Housing or camping facilities to accommodate seasonal or permanent agricultural employees provided:

(1) Such facilities shall be located at least 50 feet from the external property lines;

(2) Such facilities shall conform with applicable building and health regulations;

(3) Such facilities shall be occupied only by agricultural employees and their immediate families; and

(4) Permanent housing shall not exceed the density of the zone and a covenant shall be filed with the county auditor stating the residence cannot be sold or leased without proper subdivision approval.

.158 Aircraft landing areas when solely for personal (aircraft based at those landing areas are owned or controlled by the landowner or tenant and subject to any limitations deemed necessary by the hearing examiner) uses; provided the centerline of any such landing area shall not be located within 500 feet of any property line, building, or structure; except that a legal affidavit from adjacent property owner(s) allowing all, or a portion, of that 500 feet as a recorded easement on their property, presented as part of a conditional use permit application, shall be acceptable. The surface of any such landing areas shall be grass or sod and not longer than 2,500 feet. It shall be unlighted and for daytime use only.

Fuels and lubricants associated with the operation of personal use aircraft will be stored and handled in accordance with pertinent state and county codes. All aircraft and pilots must comply with all current Federal Aviation Regulations for the maintenance and operation of aircraft. Notification of conditional use permit application hearing shall go, by first class mail, to residents within 1,000 feet from any point on a proposed aircraft landing area; the applicant shall pay the cost of such mailings.

.159 Surface mining and accessory washing and sorting outside of urban growth areas; provided, that:

(1) The activity is not subject to Washington State’s Surface Mining Act (Chapter 78.44 RCW).

(2) The activity will not result in excavation or equipment within 50 feet of county road rights-of-way.

(3) The activity will not result in excavation or equipment within 50 feet of the exterior property lines of the site, except in the case of two contiguous operations in which case by mutual consent this setback can be zero.

(4) Reclaimed side slopes shall not be steeper than three feet horizontal to one foot vertical for unconsolidated materials.

(5) At minimum, the operations shall adhere to the development and performance standards of WCC 20.73.650 and 20.73.700.

(6) All topsoil remains on site for use in subsequent reclamation.

(7) No soil erosion or sedimentation will occur beyond the exterior property lines of the site.

(8) No excavation shall occur within the five-year zone of contribution for designated wellhead protection areas. Excavations may occur within the 10-year zone of contribution outside of the five-year zone of contribution if they are not within 10 vertical feet of the seasonal high water table. Wellhead protection boundaries may be adjusted in accordance with WCC 20.73.153(2).

(9) A cumulative maximum of three acres may be mined within the outer boundary of the parcel as it existed at the time of adoption of the amendment codified in this subsection. The intent of this provision is to prevent multiple conditional use permits for three-acre surface mines on a single parcel and prevent lots that were divided from a parent parcel after adoption of the amendment codified in this subsection from each having a three-acre surface mine.

(10) Owners and/or operators shall submit a reclamation plan that is consistent with the requirements of RCW 78.44.141.

(11) Performance bonds or other monetary security as approved by the prosecuting attorney equal to the costs of completing the proposed reclamation plan, subsection (10) of this section, are submitted to the county, which shall be released within two years after completion of surface mining; provided, that reclamation has been completed according to the reclamation plan.

.161 Cottage industries employing no more than four people on site, other than family members residing on the premises, conducted in a structure(s) other than the dwelling unit; provided, that in addition to the criteria found in WCC 20.84.220 and 20.80.980:

(1) The hearing examiner, at his discretion, may place limitations on the square footage used in an existing or new structure used for a cottage industry and construction of new buildings to house said activity shall not, in any case, exceed 2,500 square feet of total floor area. The total land area used for buildings and outside storage or uses related to the cottage industry shall not exceed one acre or 25 percent of the site, whichever is less.

(2) In the event materials will be stored outdoors, the hearing examiner shall require adequate landscaping, screening or other devices in order that the material will not be visible by surrounding uses or roads.

(3) One nonilluminated freestanding sign, visible from the road, and not exceeding six feet in height, may be permitted. One additional nonilluminated sign may be attached to the building for a maximum total signage of 16 square feet. No portion of any sign shall extend above the lowest portion of the roof.

(4) In the R-10A zone, where the cottage industry involves production or processing of forestry or agricultural related products on parcels larger than 10 acres, the maximum number of employees outside the family may be increased at the rate of one additional employee for each additional 10 acres to a maximum of 10 employees outside the family. In the event that the property is reduced in size below the acreage used to qualify for additional employees under this section, the number of employees shall be proportionately reduced.

(5) Seasonal employees working less than 21 days per year will not be counted as employees if they are engaged in work directly related to agriculture or forestry.

.162 Small scale commercial processing of forestry products on a permanent basis, utilizing permanently installed equipment, and provided the use is compatible and augments the economic viability of the forest community, appropriate provision is made of water to meet fire flow standards, and is consistent with applicable local, state and federal standards and regulations.

.163 In R5A and R10A zoning districts, the processing of agricultural products that originate from the permitted uses in WCC 20.40.050, provided the following criteria are met:

(1) The facility is not a slaughterhouse or mushroom substrate production facility.

(2) The facility processes at least 50 percent agricultural goods produced in Whatcom County and which originate from permitted uses.

(3) The facility employs over 10 permanent employees.

(4) The facility exceeds 10,000 square feet in proposed and existing buildings (as defined by WCC 20.97.035) devoted to agricultural processing.

.165 Private or public, commercial and noncommercial outdoor recreation facilities including golf courses, playing fields for outdoor sports and other facilities consistent with the purpose of this district.

.166 Hydroelectric projects of five megawatts or less.

.170 Bed and breakfast inns.

.171 Confinement feeding operations and feedlots; provided, however, that such uses shall not be allowed inside urban growth areas.

.172 Commercial operations that directly provide goods or services to agricultural operators with the intent of augmenting agricultural operations, including but not limited to hay sales and storage, sawdust sales and storage, farm equipment service and repair, and farm chemical applicator establishments; provided, that the prospective commercial operation is limited to directly serving agricultural operators; does not include the manufacture of farm-related implements; does not include livestock auction facilities; and is located on a parcel that is surrounded by agricultural operations or is in an area that is predominantly used for agriculture or forestry or mining.

.173 Rock crushing and asphalt and concrete batch plants, when within an MRL Special District.

.174 Plant nurseries and greenhouses for storage, propagation and culture of plants, including sales as an accessory use provided:

(1) Must be located on a collector arterial or higher classified road.

(2) Covered sales area and associated display areas must not exceed 10 percent of the total area of development.

(3) There shall be fixed hours of operation.

(4) Parking lot, indoor sales or other potential impacts related to operations shall be buffered from neighbors.

(5) Signage shall be aesthetically compatible with the character of the neighborhood.

(6) All other criteria for conditional use permits must be met.

(7) Outdoor storage of fertilizer is prohibited.

(8) No aerial application of chemical products shall be allowed within 50 feet of dissimilar uses.

(9) This type of activity will be prohibited in the Lake Whatcom watershed and Lummi Island and in other areas deemed to be water quality sensitive, excluding retail nurseries operating chemical free.

.175 Indoor and outdoor, live commercial entertainment; provided, that:

(1) The use is located within a Rural 10 Acre (R10A) District, and upon at least a 10 acre parcel.

(2) The use requires a rural setting to be compatible with its entertainment theme.

(3) Maximum attendance is limited to 1,000 persons per day.

(4) Accessory food service and gift shop activity is limited to five hours per day, liquor service is prohibited.

(5) The use shall not exceed maximum environmental noise levels established by state law (Chapter 173-60 WAC).

(6) The use will not generate primary traffic flows on local access roads where adjacent residential density exceeds one unit per five acres.

(7) Minimum buffering shall be required as established in WCC 20.80.345; provided, that minimum side and rear yard buffers are at least 50 feet.

(8) Limited hours and seasons of operation are established.

(9) One on-premises freestanding sign is permitted only, not to exceed 10 feet in height and 24 square feet in surface area per face, and not exceeding two faces per sign.

(10) Off-street parking is provided for, consistent with WCC 5.40.040; overnight RV parking and/or camping is prohibited.

.176 Rental cabins, together with associated meeting facilities and other customary accessory uses, including but not limited to cooking and dining facilities, retail sales of meeting supplies and gifts, swim pools and exercise rooms in the Foothills Subarea, provided the following standards are met:

(1) Density shall not exceed five sleeping units per five gross acres.

(2) Legally established resorts or rental cabins existing as of the date of the adoption of the ordinance codified in this section which meet the criteria in subsection (1) of this section shall be permitted outright. However, expansions shall only be allowed by conditional use and shall be bound by the density standards above; and

(3) Each cabin shall have a maximum of three sleeping units.

.177 Activity centers.

.178 Public or private parks that are not included in an adopted city or county Comprehensive Plan or Park Plan.

.179 Public campgrounds.

.180 Trailheads with parking areas for more than 30 vehicles.

.183 State education facilities.

.185 Type I solid waste handling facilities.

.186 Type II solid waste handling facilities.

.187 Type III solid waste handling facilities only in those areas specified as suitable for solid waste sites in the applicable subarea Comprehensive Plan.

.189 Boarding homes that are larger than other residential structures permitted in the zoning district.*

.190 Mental health facilities that provide residential treatment and are larger than other residential structures permitted in the zoning district.*

.191 Substance abuse facilities that provide residential treatment and are larger than other residential structures permitted in the zoning district.*

.192 Mental health facilities that provide crisis care.*

.193 Substance abuse facilities that provide crisis care.*

.194 Outpatient mental health facilities.*

.195 Outpatient substance abuse treatment facilities, including opiate substitution treatment clinics.*

.196 Mitigation banks as a form of compensatory mitigation for wetland and habitat conservation area impacts when permitted in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 16.16 WCC; provided, applications for mitigation banks shall be processed as a major development project pursuant to Chapter 20.88 WCC.

.197 Surface mining subject to Washington State’s Surface Mining Act (Chapter 78.44 RCW), and accessory washing and sorting, when within a Mineral Resource Land Special District subject to the requirements of Chapter 20.73 WCC and all other applicable regulations. (Ord. 2017-030 § 1 (Exh. F), 2017; Ord. 2016-035 § 1 (Exh. A), 2016; Ord. 2016-011 § 1 (Exhs. D, Q), 2016; Ord. 2015-016 Exh. A, 2015; Ord. 2013-057 § 1 (Exh. A), 2013; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011; Ord. 2009-034 § 1 (Att. A), 2009; Ord. 2009-033 § 1 (Att. A), 2009; Ord. 2006-048 § 1 (Exh. A), 2006; Ord. 2005-068 § 2, 2005; Ord. 2004-026 § 1, 2004; Ord. 2004-014 § 2, 2004; Ord. 2001-047 § 1, 2001; Ord. 2001-012 § 1, 2001; Ord. 99-068, 1999; Ord. 98-083 Exh. A § 39, 1998; Ord. 98-078 Exh. A, 1998; Ord. 98-018 § 1, 1998; Ord. 97-069, 1997; Ord. 96-056 Att. A §§ H2, H3, 1996; Ord. 95-031, 1995; Ord. 94-056, 1994; Ord. 94-028, 1994; Ord. 94-002, 1994; Ord. 93-076, 1993; Ord. 92-079, 1992; Ord. 91-013, 1991; Ord. 90-41, 1990; Ord. 88-93, 1988; Ord. 88-29, 1988; Ord. 88-13, 1988; Ord. 87-84, 1987; Ord. 87-64, 1987; Ord. 87-12, 1987; Ord. 87-11, 1987; Ord. 86-42, 1986; Ord. 85-17, 1985; Ord. 82-58, 1982).

20.36.200 Prohibited uses.

All uses not listed as permitted, accessory, administrative approval, or conditional uses are prohibited, including but not limited to the following, which are listed here for purposes of clarity:

.201 Reserved.

.202 Adult businesses.

.210 Secure community transition facilities for sex offenders. (Ord. 2016-011 § 1 (Exh. L), 2016; Ord. 2004-014 § 2, 2004; Ord. 99-070 § 2, 1999).

20.36.250 Maximum density, minimum lot size and width.

20.36.251 Minimum lot size and maximum density.

For the purpose of creating new building lots within the Rural District, several land use densities are herein provided. The minimum lot size and maximum density requirements for new construction vary according to the method of subdivision design. Where the conventional subdivision method is used to create new building lots, the minimum lot size shall be two, five or 10 acres, depending on the specific zone classification and whether public water is available. Where the lot cluster subdivision method is used, the minimum lot size is based on the consideration of the zoning district’s setback requirements (WCC 20.80.200) and the Whatcom County Health Code regulations for sewage systems and drinking water, but shall not be less than that shown below. Lots for public facilities approved under WCC 20.36.151 are not subject to minimum lot size requirements. (Ord. 2005-041 § 1 Exh. A, 2005; Ord. 2005-037 § 1 Exh. A, 2005; Ord. 98-060 § 1, 1998; Res. 98-033 Exh. A, 1998; Ord. 96-056 Att. A § H4, 1996; Ord. 90-45, 1990; Ord. 87-12, 1987; Ord. 87-11, 1987).

20.36.252 Rural residential density overlay.

In certain areas delineated on the official zoning map in the R-5A Zone, and designated as a rural neighborhood in the Comprehensive Plan, a density overlay may be applied in order to permit densities consistent with surrounding development and the established rural character of the area.

(1) Eligibility. Eligibility for the density overlay is limited to lots that meet the following:

(a) Public water must be available; and

(b) At least 70 percent of lots wholly or partially within 500 feet of the subject lot’s outer boundary must have contained a residence and been under five acres in size on May 22, 2011.

(2) Calculation. Within this overlay the permitted minimum lot size for a lot is equivalent to the mean lot size of all lots that contained a residence on June 1, 2011, and are wholly or partially within 500 feet of the lot’s outer boundaries, or two acres, whichever is greater. This calculation is subject to the following:

(a) No lots within a city, urban growth area, or LAMIRD (rural community, rural tourism, or rural business Comprehensive Plan designation) may be included in the mean lot size calculation; and

(b) Lot sizes existing on or before May 22, 2011, shall be used in the mean lot size calculation. (Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-043 Exh. A, 2011; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011).

20.36.253 Maximum density and minimum lot size.

The R-2A District is allowed only within areas designated as rural neighborhoods, as described in the Comprehensive Plan. R-5A and R-10A Districts are allowed in the rural areas; the Comprehensive Plan contains policies regarding application of these districts within the rural designation. The R-10A District is allowed in urban growth area reserve designations.

For boundary line adjustments on lots not conforming to minimum lot sizes in this zoning district, lot size averaging may be used by calculating the average lot size of legal lots of record within 500 feet of the outside perimeter of the lots proposed for boundary line adjustment.

District

Gross Density

Minimum Lot Size

Min. Reserve Area (Cluster Subdivisions)

Conventional

Cluster

R-2A without public water

1 dwelling unit/5 acres

5 acres

1 acre

20%

R-2A with public water

1 dwelling unit/2 acres

2 acres

12,500 sq. ft.

55%

R-5A without public water

1 dwelling unit/5 acres

5 acres

1 acre

50%

R-5A subject to agricultural protection overlay (Chapter 20.38 WCC)

1 dwelling unit/5 acres

Not applicable

15,000 sq. ft.

75%

R-5A with public water

1 dwelling unit/5 acres

5 acres

12,500 sq. ft.

65%

R-5A with public water subject to rural residential overlay

Maximum: 1 dwelling unit/2 acres per 20.36.252(2)

See WCC 20.36.252(2)

15,000 sq. ft.

65%

R-10A without public water

1 dwelling unit/10 acres

10 acres

1 acre

60%

R-10A subject to agricultural protection overlay (Chapter 20.38 WCC)

1 dwelling unit/10 acres

Not applicable

15,000 sq. ft.

75%

R-10A with public water

1 dwelling unit/10 acres

10 acres

12,500 sq. ft.

70%

Public facilities approved under WCC 20.36.151

Not applicable

No minimum

No minimum

Not applicable

(Ord. 2013-028 § 2 Exh. B, 2013; Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-043 Exh. A, 2011; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011; Ord. 2005-041 § 1 Exh. A, 2005; Ord. 2005-037 § 1 Exh. A, 2005; Ord. 2001-016 § 1, 2001; Ord. 98-083 Exh. A § 41, 1998; Ord. 98-060 § 1, 1998; Res. 98-033 Exh. A, 1998; Ord. 82-58, 1982).

20.36.254 Minimum lot width and depth.

District

Width at Street Line

Width at Bldg. Line

Minimum
Mean Depth

Conventional

Cluster

R-2

200

70*

80

100

R-5A

300

70*

80

100

R-10A

300

70*

80

100

*30′ on a cul-de-sac only

The “Width at Street Line” standards do not apply to lots being modified through boundary line adjustment (BLA) subject to WCC 21.03.060(2)(f).

(Ord. 2017-030 § 1 (Exh. H), 2017; Ord. 82-58, 1982).

20.36.300 Lot clustering, reserve area and reserve tract.

(Ord. 2013-028 § 2 Exh. B, 2013).

20.36.305 Lot clustering. (Adopted by reference in WCCP Chapter 2.)

(1) The purpose of lot clustering is to provide an alternative method of creating economical building lots with spatially efficient sizes. Clustering is intended to reduce development cost and increase energy efficiency and reserve areas of land which are suitable for agriculture, forestry, or open space.

(2) The clustering option is also intended to help preserve open space and the character of areas and reduce total impervious surface area thereby reducing runoff while assuring continued viable undeveloped natural vegetated corridors for wildlife habitat, protection of watersheds, preservation of wetlands, preservation of aesthetic values including view corridors, and preservation of potential trail and recreation areas.

(3) Lot clustering is required for residential developments on parcels 10 acres or greater when the property is located within an urban growth area reserve. (Ord. 2013-057 § 1 (Exh. A), 2013; Ord. 2013-028 § 2 Exh. B, 2013; Ord. 2005-041 § 1 Exh. A, 2005; Ord. 90-45, 1990).

20.36.310 Design standards. (Adopted by reference in WCCP Chapter 2.)

The creation of new building lots, pursuant to this section, shall be governed by the following recommended design standards:

(1) Clustered building lots may be only created through the subdivision or short subdivision process.

(2) Building lots shall be designed and located to the fullest extent possible to be compatible with valuable or unique natural features, as well as physical constraints of the site.

(3) The majority of building sites shall be arranged in a cluster or concentrated pattern to be compatible with physical site features and have no more than two common encroachments on existing county roads. The arrangement of clustered building lots is intended to discourage development forms commonly known as linear, straight-line or highway strip patterns.

(4) Common access to clustered building lots shall be provided by short length roads or loop roads. In addition, interior streets shall be designed to allow access to the “reserve tract” for the purpose of future approved development in urban growth areas and urban growth area reserves.

(5) Where the boundaries of a proposed cluster subdivision include land in more than one rural zone designation (R-2A, R-5A and R-10A) the following shall apply:

(a) The total number of units permitted shall be computed by separately calculating the number of lots allowed in each zone district based on the amount of land area within the district. The number of lots allowed in each district shall be totaled to arrive at the total number of lots.

(b) Lot clusters may be distributed or arranged on property(s) covered by the subdivision such that density from an R-5A or R-10A portion of a subdivision may be transferred to an adjacent portion of the subdivision with a different rural zoning designation (R-2A, R-5A or R-10A); provided, the total number of lots for the entire subdivision does not exceed the number calculated in subsection (5)(a) of this section; and provided further, that the lot design is consistent with subsections (1) through (4) of this section. Density from R-2A portions of the subdivision may not be transferred to R-5A or R-10A portions of the subdivision.

(6) In order to preserve rural character, no more than 16 residential lots shall be permitted in one cluster and there shall be at least 500 feet of separation between any new clusters. (Ord. 2014-013 § 1 (Exh. A), 2014; Ord. 2013-057 § 1 (Exh. A), 2013; Ord. 2013-028 § 2 Exh. B, 2013; Ord. 2001-014 § 1, 2001; Ord. 90-45, 1990).

20.36.315 Reserve area.2

(1) An easement on the subdivision plat shall establish a reserve area per the definition in WCC 20.97.344 that is protected in perpetuity so long as it is not within an urban growth area. The minimum percentage of the parent parcel required to be within a reserve area is shown in WCC 20.36.253.

(2) A reserve area may contain infrastructure necessary for the subdivision, including but not limited to underground utilities, stormwater ponds, and on-site septic system components, and, in reserve areas designated for agriculture, structures used for on-site agricultural uses permitted in WCC 20.36.052. Above-ground hard surface infrastructure such as roads and water tanks may be included in a reserve tract, but the area they occupy shall not be included in the reserve area percentage required in WCC 20.36.253. (Ord. 2013-028 § 2 Exh. B, 2013).

20.36.320 Reserve tract. (Adopted by reference in WCCP Chapter 2.)

For the purposes of this section, “reserve tract” is defined as that portion of a proposed subdivision or short subdivision which is intended for agricultural, forestry, or open space purposes. All “reserve tracts” created through the subdivision process shall be subject to the following provisions:

(1) After a site is initially subdivided pursuant to this section, the “reserve tract” may be retained by the subdivider, conveyed to residents of the subdivision or conveyed to a third party.

(2) The “reserve tract” may be considered as a building lot; provided, that such lot is included in the overall density calculation of the original parcel of record and that development within a “reserve area” easement is consistent with the uses permitted in reserve areas in this chapter.

(3) The “reserve tract” may be further subdivided only through the long subdivision process and only under one of the following circumstances:

(a) The county finds that in developing adjacent tracts it would help to further the objectives listed in WCC 20.36.305(2) by dividing the reserve tract and increasing the area of reserve proportionately on the adjacent land being subdivided so that there is no net reduction in reserve area; and when the reserve tract is owned by the original developer or a third party, no property owner within the original subdivision will be significantly adversely affected or suffer a substantial decrease of property value as a result of dividing the reserve tract; or

(b) When the Comprehensive Plan and zoning have been updated as part of the normal process (other than a revision initiated by the private sector or done for a specific area) and the public process has been gone through, subject to findings that there is no adverse impact to critical areas and development is in compliance with rural land use Comprehensive Plan policies, and when the reserve tract is owned by the original developer or a third party, no property owner within the original subdivision will be significantly adversely affected or suffer a substantial decrease of property value as a result of dividing the reserve tract.

(4) The purpose of the reserve tract as stated in subsections (1), (2) and (3) of this section shall be communicated in writing on the face of the plat or short plat; also, the number of developable building sites remaining (if any) with the original parcel of record, based on the assigned density, shall also be prominently displayed on the plat or short plat. Whatcom County shall make every effort to assist all agents in communicating clearly such information to all purchasers and prospective purchasers of building lots or “reserve tracts.” Any remaining density beyond the number of lots created on the plat may be assigned to either the lots or the reserve tract, but future subdivision shall not reduce the size of the reserve area below the minimum percentage of the original parent parcel required in WCC 20.36.253.

(5) The requirements of subsections (2) to (4) of this section shall be recorded as a deed restriction at the time of filing of the final plat or short plat, and shall constitute an agreement between Whatcom County and the owner of record. Said deed restriction may be amended by mutual agreement between said parties after review for consistency and compliance with the Official Whatcom County Zoning Ordinance, the Whatcom County Subdivision Ordinance and the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan. (Ord. 2013-057 § 1 (Exh. A), 2013; Ord. 2013-028 § 2 Exh. B, 2013; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011; Ord. 2005-041 § 1 Exh. A, 2005; Ord. 98-083 Exh. A § 43, 1998; Ord. 90-45, 1990; Ord. 82-58, 1982).

20.36.350 Building setbacks.

Building setbacks shall be administered pursuant to WCC 20.80.200 (Setback Requirements). (Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012).

20.36.400 Height limitations.

Maximum height shall be limited to 35 feet. Height of structures shall also conform, where applicable, to the general requirements of WCC 20.80.675. (Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 85-70, 1985; Ord. 84-38, 1984).

20.36.450 Lot coverage. (Adopted by reference in WCCP Chapter 2.)

No structure or combination of structures shall occupy or cover more than 5,000 square feet or 20 percent, whichever is greater, of the total area, not to exceed 25,000 square feet. Buildings used for livestock or agricultural products shall be exempt from this lot coverage requirement. (Ord. 2013-057 § 1 (Exh. A), 2013; Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 88-29, 1988).

20.36.650 Development criteria.

(Ord. 96-056 Att. A § A1, 1996).

20.36.651 Plat language for proposed subdivisions.

When a proposed subdivision, binding site plan, short subdivision or exempt land division will be located adjacent to or across a right-of-way from an existing Forestry District, the developer and any subsequent purchasers or successors in interest shall agree to refrain from any legal action to restrain or collect damages from the owners of such adjacent properties, or from Whatcom County, arising out of any reasonable and lawful activity on said forestry lands which occurs in the normal course of their established use. The agreement shall appear as a covenant or deed restriction upon the plat, tract or instrument of conveyance and shall run with the land. (Ord. 99-058, 1999; Ord. 92-015, 1992; Ord. 87-12, 1987; Ord. 87-11, 1987).

20.36.652 Use of natural resources.

All discretionary project permits for land on or within one-half mile of the area designated as Agriculture, Rural, Commercial Forestry or Rural Forestry or within 300 feet of an area designated as Mineral Resource Lands in the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan, or upon which farm operations are being conducted, shall be subject to the right to farm, right to practice forestry and mineral land disclosure policies contained in WCC Title 14, Use of Natural Resources. (Ord. 98-083 Exh. A § 44, 1998; Ord. 96-056 Att. A § A2, 1996; Ord. 92-015, 1992).

20.36.653 Landscaping.

Refer to WCC 20.80.300 for landscaping requirements. (Ord. 89-117, 1989).

20.36.654 Parking requirements.

Parking shall conform to the requirements of WCC 20.80.500. However, recreation vehicles, and boat parking and storage shall be limited to side and rear yards. For clustered lots created pursuant to WCC 20.36.300, recreational vehicles, and boat parking and storage shall be located in an identifiable area and screened so that the vehicles or boats shall not be visible by adjoining properties.

20.36.655 Livestock regulations.

The keeping of livestock shall be administered pursuant to WCC 20.80.800 (Supplementary Requirements).

20.36.656 Drainage.

All development activity within Whatcom County shall be subject to the stormwater management provisions of WCC 20.80.630 through 20.80.635 unless specifically exempted.

No project permit shall be issued prior to meeting submittal requirements relating to stormwater management in the appropriate chapters of the Whatcom County Code. (Ord. 2017-045 § 1 (Exh. A), 2017; Ord. 2013-057 § 1 (Exh. A), 2013; Ord. 96-056 Att. A § A2, 1996; Ord. 94-022, 1994).


1

Code reviser’s note: Ordinance 2003-021 adds these provisions as Section 20.36.135. The section has been editorially renumbered to prevent duplication of numbering.


2

Prior legislative history: Ord. 2005-079 repealed WCC 20.36.315. Ord. 98-083 was formerly codified in the section.