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Help with Regulations Affecting Farmers
The goal of this section is to help farmers understand County regulations that most often affect them, and to learn which permits might be needed for something they intend to do on their property.
The location of your farm makes a big difference in how regulations may affect you. This link will help you find out which key regulatory boundaries your property lies within.
This link provides basic information about obtaining a permit. Also in this section are Frequently Asked Questions received by our Agriculture Planner and Bulletins that give you additional information on structures and businesses:
Three Commonly Required Land Use Permits
This section presents background information on three commonly required land use permits. Farms situated near shorelines and floodplains may require all three. The timeframe for obtaining permits depends on a number of variables. Please ask the County Agriculture Planner for an estimate for your project.
In Snohomish County, applicants proposing agricultural and development activities that cause significant soil disturbance may need to obtain a land disturbing activity permit for clearing, grading, and creation of impervious surface that complies with drainage regulations before the work begins. The purpose of this regulation is to protect adjacent waterways and properties from potentially harmful runoff impacts such as erosion or sediment that could result from improper grading work. Normal, ongoing farming activities such as plowing are typically exempt from the drainage review and land disturbing activity requirements, under 'The Right to Farm' provision of County Code, and land disturbing activity and drainage review exemptions. The Right to Farm provisions are included in the drainage review and land disturbing activity permit exemptions in SCC 30.63A.200 and 30.63B.070. Frequently, land disturbing activity permit applications are required in conjunction with a residential or commercial building permit application. Click on this link to find out more about land disturbing activity permit requirements for agriculture. Additional information is provided on Planning and Development Services website for drainage, grading, and clearing.
Most of Snohomish County's prime farmlands lie within jurisdiction of the state's Shorelines Management Act. The County's Shorelines Management Master Program implements this law through regulation of agricultural and development activities along "waters of the state" including larger lakes, river deltas, floodplains; and, associated wetlands.
There are several types of Shorelines permits depending on the type of activity being proposed. Some agricultural activities are exempt from Shorelines permit requirements. Click on this link to find out more about Shorelines Permits for agriculture.
Agricultural properties located within designated flood hazard areas are required to obtain permits to ensure that proposed agricultural activities and land uses meet standards required by the National Flood Insurance Program. Click on this link to learn more about Flood Hazard Zone permits for agriculture.
The Unified Development Code
The Unified Development Code (UDC) is the section of the Snohomish County Code that provides a unified set of standards and procedures to regulate building and land development within unincorporated Snohomish County. Simplified explanations of the most common permits and sections of the code relating to agriculture are contained in this section of the Focus on Farming website. A direct link is provided here as well, for those who would like to read the original code language. To view the code, follow this link.
Contact Our Agriculture Planner
Please contact our Agriculture Planner regarding your specific permitting questions.
Phone: 425-388-3411, ext. 2731 (TTY: 425-388-3700)
State of WA Requirements
The State of WA may also have requirements affecting your planned activity. For example, the WA State Dept. of Agriculture (WSDA) has rules about poultry processing plants, and the WA State Dept. of Ecology (DOE) has rules about lagoons. You can contact these agencies through these links: WSDA and DOE.
Regulatory News and Notices
Current information about federal, state and county regulatory actions that affect agriculture.
Posted August 25, 2004
Summary of Recent Snohomish County Ag Code Amendments.
Posted August 3, 2004
Right to Farm Disclosure Notice. Snohomish County.