Chapter 20.59
RURAL GENERAL COMMERCIAL (RGC) DISTRICT

Sections:

20.59.010    Purpose.

20.59.050    Permitted uses.

20.59.100    Accessory uses.

20.59.150    Administrative approval uses.

20.59.200    Conditional uses.

20.59.250    Prohibited uses.

20.59.255    Minimum lot size.

20.59.300    Minimum lot frontage.

20.59.320    Maximum building size.

20.59.400    Building setbacks.

20.59.450    Height limitations.

20.59.500    Lot coverage.

20.59.550    Open space.

20.59.600    Buffer area. (Adopted by reference in WCCP Chapter 2.)

20.59.650    Sign regulations.

20.59.700    Development criteria.

20.59.702    Landscaping.

20.59.703    Off-street parking and loading.

20.59.704    Drainage.

20.59.705    Driveways.

20.59.706    Access.

20.59.707    Lighting.

20.59.708    Binding site plan.

20.59.750    Performance standards.

20.59.010 Purpose.

The purpose of the Rural General Commercial District is to provide for limited commercial activities which serve the surrounding community and provide job opportunities for residents of the rural area. This district may be located in either a rural community or rural business area, which are limited areas of more intensive rural development per RCW 36.70A.070(5)(d). The district shall comply with the rural land use policies and criteria set forth in the Comprehensive Plan. New development or redevelopment in an RGC District located in a rural community designation is limited to that which is consistent with the character of the area on July 1, 1990, in terms of building size, scale, use, or intensity. New development in a rural business designation is limited to isolated small-scale businesses. (Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011).

20.59.050 Permitted uses.

Unless otherwise provided herein, permitted 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, Administrative Approval Uses and Appeals). In a rural community designation, nonresidential uses listed below are permitted if a use of the same type existed in that same rural community designation on July 1, 1990, per WCC 20.80.100(1). In a rural business designation all uses are permitted. Residential type uses listed below are permitted in rural community and rural business designations.

.051 Retail and office type uses.

(1) Mobile home and recreational vehicle sales.

(2) Indoor commercial recreation facilities such as bowling alleys, skating rinks, indoor theaters and physical fitness centers.

(3) Service establishment including but not limited to barber and beauty shops, laundries, dry cleaners, furniture repair, frozen food lockers, funeral parlors, animal hospitals, auction houses, financial institutions, fraternal organizations and professional offices.

(4) Retail establishments including but not limited to grocery, liquor, drug, sundries, variety, building supplies, clothing, florist, nurseries, optical, sporting goods, appliance, music, pet stores and marijuana retail facilities.

(5) Printing and publishing establishments.

(6) Mini-day care centers and day care centers.

(7) Construction contractors’ business offices, including outdoor storage of equipment.

.052 Storage and warehousing type uses.

(1) Rental storage establishments.

.053 Restaurant type uses.

(1) Eating and drinking establishments.

.054 Automotive and equipment repair type uses.

(1) Automobile, motorcycle, marine and farm implement sales, rental agencies, repair and service; provided, that all repair services are conducted within an enclosed building.

(2) Automobile service stations, car washes and public garages.

.055 Residential type uses.

One single-family dwelling or duplex per lot of record subject to:

(1) Health department requirements regarding soil type and water supply.

(2) A deed restriction recorded with the Whatcom County auditor is attached to the lot(s) at the time of building permit issuance stating that the dwelling(s) is located in a Rural General Commercial Zone and buyers should be aware that commercial uses will be allowed on surrounding parcels and owners have no grounds for protest.

(3) This permitted use is only allowed on lots created as of May 22, 2011, or lots created according to WCC 20.59.257.

.056 Public and community type uses.

(1) Public utilities, except broadcast towers, which require a conditional use permit pursuant to WCC 20.82.030(5), and water and sewer treatment plants, which require a conditional use permit pursuant to WCC 20.82.030(8).

(2) Public community facilities including police and fire stations, libraries, community centers, recreation facilities, and other similar noncommercial uses.

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

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

(5) Activity centers.

(6) Adult family homes as defined in Chapter 70.128 RCW.

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

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

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

(10) Secure community transition facilities for sex offenders.

(a) A secure community transition facility shall not be located adjacent to, immediately across the street or parking lot from, or within the line of sight of existing risk potential facilities, which are:

(i) Public schools;

(ii) Private schools;

(iii) School bus stops;

(iv) Licensed day care;

(v) Licensed preschool facilities;

(vi) Public parks;

(vii) Publicly dedicated trails;

(viii) Sports fields;

(ix) Playgrounds;

(x) Recreational and community centers;

(xi) Churches, synagogues, temples or mosques;

(xii) Public libraries;

(xiii) Public and private youth camps; and

(xiv) Other uses identified by the State Department of Social and Health Services pursuant to RCW 71.09.020.

“Within the line of sight” shall mean that it is possible to reasonably visually distinguish and recognize individuals. An unobstructed visual distance of 600 feet shall be considered to be within the line of sight. Line of sight may be considered to be less than 600 feet if the applicant can demonstrate that visual barriers exist or would be created that would visually screen the risk potential facility from the secure community transition facility.

(b) No more than one secure community transition facility, with a maximum of three people (other than staff), shall be located within Whatcom County. (Ord. 2016-043 § 1 Exh. A, 2016; Ord. 2015-006 Exh. A, 2015; Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011).

20.59.100 Accessory uses.

.101 One residential unit for owner-manager or caretaker when part of a building in which the primary use is located.

.102 Uses incidental to the primary permitted uses.

.103 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.

.104 Family day care homes and mini-day care homes; mini-day care homes shall conform to the definition of home occupation, WCC 20.80.970.

.105 Indoor storage of durable and nondurable goods.

.106 One one-story detached accessory storage building per lot; provided, that the floor area shall not exceed the exempt criteria stated in the current code as adopted and amended per WCC Title 15, Buildings and Construction, 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.

.107 Electric vehicle rapid charging stations and battery exchange facilities, accessory to conditionally approved service stations. (Ord. 2016-011 § 1 (Exh. D), 2016; Ord. 2013-057 § 1 (Exh. A), 2013; Res. 2012-036, 2012; Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2012-001 § 1 (Exh. A), 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011).

20.59.150 Administrative approval uses.

In a rural community designation, uses listed in this section may be administratively permitted pursuant to WCC 20.84.235 if a use of the same type existed in that same rural community designation on July 1, 1990, per WCC 20.80.100(1). In a rural business designation, all uses listed in this section may be administratively permitted.

The zoning administrator may administratively permit other uses similar in nature to the permitted uses listed in WCC 20.59.050 or this section that the zoning administrator determines to be consistent with the purpose and intent of the district, have similar effects on surrounding land uses, and can meet the performance standards for this district.

.151 Storage/warehouse type uses.

(1) Outdoor storage of durable and nondurable goods; provided neighboring uses are adequately screened.

.152 Manufacturing/fabrication type uses.

(1) Fabrication, assembly, and/or manufacturing of mechanical equipment or of building components. (Ord. 2016-043 § 1 Exh. A, 2016; Ord. 2015-048 § 1 Exh. A, 2015; Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011).

20.59.200 Conditional uses.

In a rural community designation, uses listed below may be conditionally permitted if a use of the same type existed in that same rural community designation on July 1, 1990, per WCC 20.80.100(1). In a rural business designation all uses listed below may be conditionally permitted.

.201 Retail and office type uses.

(1) Animal kennels.

.202 Restaurant/lodging type uses.

(1) Hotels and motels.

.203 Residential type uses.

(1) Boarding homes that are larger than other residential structures permitted in the zoning district.

.204 Automotive and equipment repair type uses.

(1) Commercial truck service facilities including truck fueling, repair and storage operations, overnight accommodations and restaurants.

.205 Recreational type uses.

(1) Amusement parks, outdoor theaters and other outdoor commercial recreation, including golf courses.

(2) Public campgrounds.

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

(4) Athletic fields.

.206 Public and community type uses.

(1) Churches and cemeteries.

(2) Trailheads with parking areas for more than 30 vehicles.

(3) State education facilities.

(4) Type I solid waste handling facilities.

(5) Type II solid waste handling facilities.

(6) State and local correction facilities.

(7) Mental health facilities that provide residential treatment and are larger than other residential structures permitted in the zoning district.

(8) Substance abuse facilities that provide residential treatment and are larger than other residential structures permitted in the zoning district.

(9) Mental health facilities that provide crisis care.

(10) Substance abuse facilities that provide crisis care.

(11) Outpatient mental health facilities.

(12) Outpatient substance abuse treatment facilities, including opiate substitution treatment clinics.

.207 Other uses.

(1) 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. (Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011).

20.59.250 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:

.251 Reserved.

.252 Adult businesses. (Ord. 2016-011 § 1 (Exh. L), 2016; Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011).

20.59.255 Minimum lot size.

.256 For commercial purposes, the minimum lot size shall be consistent with the area required to meet the building setback, lot coverage and development standards of this district.

.257 For the purpose of creating new residential lots, the minimum lot size shall be five acres. (Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011).

20.59.300 Minimum lot frontage.

For the purpose of dividing property, minimum lot frontage shall be sufficient to provide adequate access and utility development, and meet applicable building setback, buffer, open space and development standards of the district. In no case shall the frontage be less than 30 feet. (Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011).

20.59.320 Maximum building size.

.321 In a rural community designation, maximum allowable floor area for a building shall not exceed the floor area of the largest building of a use of the same type that existed in that same rural community designation on July 1, 1990, per WCC 20.80.100(1) except as provided in WCC 20.80.100(2).

.322 In a rural business designation, the maximum allowable floor area for a new use is 7,000 square feet per building except as provided in WCC 20.80.100(3) and (4). (Ord. 2017-030 § 1 (Exh. G), 2017; Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011).

20.59.400 Building setbacks.

Building setbacks shall be administered pursuant to WCC 20.59.600 and 20.80.200. (Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011).

20.59.450 Height limitations.

Maximum building height shall not exceed 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. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011).

20.59.500 Lot coverage.

.501 On a lot in a rural community designation, the combined floor area of all buildings shall not exceed that of a use of the same type that existed on a lot in that same rural community designation on July 1, 1990, per WCC 20.80.100(1) except as provided in WCC 20.80.100(2).

.502 In a rural business designation, building or structural coverage of a lot shall not exceed 50 percent of the total area. (Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011).

20.59.550 Open space.

At least 10 percent of the site shall be kept free of buildings, structures, hard surfacing, parking areas and other impervious surfaces. (Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011).

20.59.600 Buffer area. (Adopted by reference in WCCP Chapter 2.)

.601 When a parcel situated within this district adjoins an Agriculture, Rural or Residential Rural District, or county or state roads designated as or proposed for improvements to principal arterial status, setbacks from property lines adjoining these districts shall be increased to 25 feet. Unless adjoining an Agriculture Zoning District, said area shall be landscaped consistent with the requirements of WCC 20.80.345. (Ord. 2013-057 § 1 (Exh. A), 2013; Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011).

20.59.650 Sign regulations.

Sign regulations shall be administered pursuant to WCC 20.80.400. (Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011).

20.59.700 Development criteria.

(Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011).

20.59.702 Landscaping.

Refer to WCC 20.80.300 for landscaping requirements. (Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011).

20.59.703 Off-street parking and loading.

Off-street parking and loading shall be administered pursuant to WCC 20.80.500. (Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011).

20.59.704 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. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011).

20.59.705 Driveways.

Consistent with WCC 20.80.640, driveway plans shall be reviewed by the county engineer or State Department of Transportation, as applicable. (Ord. 2013-057 § 1 (Exh. A), 2013; Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011).

20.59.706 Access.

Access shall conform to the provisions of WCC 20.80.565. (Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011).

20.59.707 Lighting.

Lighting shall be designed to avoid excessive glare onto neighboring properties, and to not create safety hazards or unreasonable interference with adjacent uses. (Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011).

20.59.708 Binding site plan.

Should the commercial use be developed as part of a binding site plan, it shall be administered pursuant to WCC Title 21 (Land Division Regulations) and additional requirements, as applicable. (Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011).

20.59.750 Performance standards.

The following provisions shall apply to all uses within this district:

.751 There shall be no storage or handling of hazardous, explosive, highly flammable materials which would cause fire, explosion or safety hazards, except the storage and dispensing of motor fuels in service stations and truck stops.

.752 There shall be no production of noise at any property line of any use in this district in excess of the average intensity of street and traffic noise found in the district.

.753 There shall be no emission of dust, dirt, odors, smoke, or toxic gases and fumes.

.754 There shall be no production of heat, glare or vibration perceptible from any property line of the premises upon which such heat, glare or vibration is being generated. (Ord. 2012-032 § 2 Exh. B, 2012; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011).