Chapter 20.38


20.38.010    Purpose.

20.38.020    Permitted uses.

20.38.030    Density.

20.38.040    Definitions.

20.38.050    Applicability.

20.38.060    Development and use standards.

20.38.080    Repealed.

20.38.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to maintain and enhance commercial agricultural activity and further protect open space resources within Whatcom County; further the county’s efforts in meeting long-term agricultural needs; provide a reasonable mix of uses and activities which may enhance the economic resources available to the farmer; and provide for a variety of uses within the rural areas which are not inconsistent with or incompatible with the use of lands within the area for agricultural activities. This chapter is not intended to interfere with the use of other resources. (Ord. 2002-060 § 1, 2002; Ord. 2001-016 § 1, 2001; Ord. 98-083 Exh. A § 45, 1998).

20.38.020 Permitted uses.

(1) All uses permitted in the Agriculture zone, Chapter 20.40 WCC.

(2) All other uses permitted directly or by administrative or conditional uses in Chapter 20.36 WCC but only on lands and under the conditions provided below.

(3) 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. (Ord. 2005-079 § 1, 2005; Ord. 2002-060 § 1, 2002; Ord. 2001-016 § 1, 2001; Ord. 98-083 Exh. A § 45, 1998. Formerly 20.38.030).

20.38.030 Density.

Maximum density shall be the same as in the underlying R-5A or R-10A zone district (Chapter 20.36 WCC). (Ord. 2002-060 § 1, 2002; Ord. 2001-016 § 1, 2001; Ord. 98-083 Exh. A § 45, 1998. Formerly 20.38.040).

20.38.040 Definitions.

For the purposes of the Agriculture Protection Overlay zone:

(1) A “parcel” is defined as a legal lot of record (WCC 20.83.060) or, if consolidation has taken place pursuant to WCC 20.83.070, the entire area of the consolidated lots. Parcel acreage shall include the area of adjoining road rights-of-way, unless it can be demonstrated by the applicant that agricultural practices have not been conducted on a given parcel since January 1, 1975, in which case the parcel size shall be calculated without including the adjoining road rights-of-way. For properties within the jurisdiction of the Shoreline Management Program, submerged lands and/or tidelands within the boundaries of any waterfront parcel that are located waterward of the ordinary high water mark shall not be used in calculating the parcel size. If a parcel is bisected by a public right-of-way, or a river, a pond, or a lake as defined in the critical areas ordinance, and the resultant area is less than 20 acres, the provisions of this chapter do not apply to that portion.

(2) Agriculture protection overlay soils are those soils determined by Whatcom County, in consultation with the Natural Resource Conservation Service and local farmers, as being the best soils for farming. Each soil type named in the list below also has a number. This number is used in the “Soil Survey of Whatcom County Area, May 1992,” to identify the mapping unit (soil type) in all text, maps and tables contained in the soil survey.

Agriculture Protection Overlay Soils

No.    Name

12    Birchbay Silt Loam – 0 to 3% slopes

13    Birchbay Silt Loam – 3 to 8% slopes

22    Briscot Silt Loam-Drained – 0 to 2% slopes

31    Clipper Silt Loam-Drained – 0 to 2% slopes

45    Edmonds-Woodlyn Loams-Drained – 0 to 2% slopes

53    Everson Silt Loam-Drained – 0 to 2% slopes

54    Fishtrap Muck-Drained – 0 to 2% slopes

62    Hale Silt Loam-Drained – 0 to 2% slopes

79    Kickerville Silt Loam – 0 to 3% slopes

80    Kickerville Silt Loam – 3 to 8% slopes

95    Larush Silt Loam – 0 to 3% slopes

96    Laxton Loam – 0 to 3% slopes

97    Laxton Loam – 3 to 8% slopes

99    Lynden Sandy Loam – 0 to 3% slopes

100    Lynden Sandy Loam – 3 to 7% slopes

107    Mt. Vernon Fine Sandy Loam – 0 to 2% slopes

115    Oridia Silt Loam-Drained – 0 to 2% slopes

116    Pangborn Muck-Drained – 0 to 2% slopes

123    Puget Silt Loam-Drained – 0 to 2% slopes

124    Puyallup Fine Sandy Loam – 0 to 2% slopes

139    Sehome Loam – 2 to 8% slopes

143    Shalcar Muck-Drained – 0 to 2% slopes

148    Skipopa Silt Loam – 0 to 8% slopes

151    Snohomish Silt Loam-Drained – 0 to 2% slopes

162    Sumas Silt Loam-Drained – 0 to 2% slopes

165    Tromp Loam – 0 to 2% slopes

178    Whatcom Silt Loam – 0 to 3% slopes

179    Whatcom Silt Loam – 3 to 8% slopes

184    Whitehorn Silt Loam – 0 to 2% slopes

186    Winston Silt Loam – 0 to 3% slopes

191    Yelm Loam – 3 to 8% slopes

(Ord. 2010-012 Exh. A, 2010; Ord. 2009-066 Exh. A, 2009; Ord. 2002-060 § 1, 2002; Ord. 2001-016 § 1, 2001; Ord. 2000-013 § 1, 2000; Ord. 99-092, 1999; Ord. 98-083 Exh. A § 45, 1998. Formerly 20.38.050).

20.38.050 Applicability.

The provisions in this section apply to all rural lands designated R-5A or R-10A on the official zoning map, (a) outside designated urban growth area boundaries, and (b) held in parcels of 20 acres or larger. The following parcels are exempt from the cluster subdivision requirements:

(1) Divisions of land into parcels of 40 acres or larger.

(2) A parcel satisfying both of the following criteria:

(a) The parcel includes less than 50 percent agriculture protection overlay soils (detailed site-specific soil mapping provided by a certified professional soil scientist may be substituted for the USDA Soil Survey of Whatcom County mapping, if it can be shown to be more accurate); and

(b) Less than 50 percent of the parcel has been designated as agricultural open space for county property tax purposes within the past seven years.

(3) A parcel with land designated agriculture or forest in the Comprehensive Plan located on less than 25 percent of the parcel perimeter, and surrounded on 75 percent or more of the parcel perimeter by any of the following:

(a) More intensive zoning districts, including residential, commercial, light industrial, and heavy industrial districts; or

(b) Existing development patterns with residential densities greater than one unit per two acres; or

(c) More intensive uses such as, but not limited to, schools, churches, rest homes and other commercial uses.

(4) A parcel occupied by a use legally established prior to May 20, 1997, where the use affects 50 percent or more of the area of the parcel in a manner that effectively prevents that 50 percent or more from being used for agricultural purposes both for now and in the foreseeable future. For the purposes of this section, the presence of forestlands and woodlands shall not be construed as a use or condition preventing future use of property for agricultural purposes. Uses that effectively prevent future agricultural use include but are not limited to those where costs to renovate the site to achieve its former agricultural capabilities exceed the value of the land for agricultural use. (Ord. 2010-012 Exh. A, 2010; Ord. 2009-066 Exh. A, 2009; Ord. 2002-060 § 1, 2002; Ord. 2001-016 § 1, 2001; Ord. 98-083 Exh. A § 45, 1998. Formerly 20.38.020).

20.38.060 Development and use standards.

Subdivisions or segregations for nonagricultural uses shall be clustered. Development on all parcels subject to this section shall follow the requirements below:

(1) The clustered residential lot(s) shall not exceed 25 percent of the gross acreage of the original parent parcel, regardless of the number of separate subdivision events; and

(2) Shall not interfere with the resource productivity and agricultural use of the agricultural reserve tract; and

(3) If the parent parcel contains an area that is nonagricultural or lower class soils, and if this area is large enough to contain or partially contain the clustered residential lots then the clustered residential lots shall be located on this lower class soil unless restricted by physical constraints or unless the placement of said lots would be contrary to subsection (2) of this section; and

(4) Minimum lot size shall comply with WCC 20.36.253, unless a larger lot is required as determined by the requirements of the Bellingham-Whatcom County Sanitary Code for on-site septic disposal; provided, however, separate drainfield tracts and common drainfields shall be allowed consistent with the sanitary code. Drainfields serving the cluster development may be located within the required building setback, but not within the reserve tract; and

(5) 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; and

(6) All wells for potable water within the cluster subdivision shall be kept a minimum of 100 feet from the property line of an existing farm or any parcel or portion thereof which is designated as the agricultural reserve tract; and

(7) Any habitable structure within the cluster subdivision shall be set back a minimum of 100 feet, and any accessory or other nonhabitable structures shall be set back at least 30 feet from the property line of any parcel that is an APO reserve tract or designated or taxed for agricultural purposes; and

(8) The 25 percent of a parcel available for development may be contiguous or in separate clusters so long as the requirements of this section are met; and

(9) At the time of the initial development of a parcel under this section the entire parcel shall be included within the plat or tract map recorded, including the clustered residential parcel or parcels, and the reserve tract. Modifications to the plat or tract map shall be made in accordance with state law and county codes and ordinances, and shall be permitted, so long as the provisions of this section are met as applied to the original parcel; and

(10) A statement that the property is subject to the agriculture protection overlay (Chapter 20.38 WCC) shall be recorded on the face of the tract map, or short plat; and

(11) For purpose of determining additional development density should a rezone take place, the original (pre-subdivided) parent parcel acreage must be included in the total acreage calculation and the original development density shall be subtracted from the increased total development density assigned to the original parent parcel, to obtain remaining density. (Ord. 2022-012 § 1 (Exh. A), 2022; Ord. 2019-013 § 1 (Exh. A), 2019; Ord. 2002-060 § 1, 2002; Ord. 2001-016 § 1, 2001; Ord. 98-083 Exh. A § 45, 1998).

20.38.080 Administrative modification.

Repealed by Ord. 2001-016. (Ord. 98-083 Exh. A § 45, 1998).