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This sub-section of the Development Patterns section meets three purposes. First, it includes the countywide response to GMA requirements. Second, it includes policies to support parts of the regional plan, VISION 2040, that go beyond state mandates. Third, it provides policies for issues that are specific to Snohomish County and its cities.

State Context

GMA distinguishes between Rural Lands and Resource Lands. In rural areas, there is a mix of low intensity uses including; housing, agriculture, forested areas, recreation, and appropriately scaled business and services, often following historic development patterns. Resource Lands are primarily for agriculture, forestry, or mineral extraction. Other activities on resource lands are to be of a subordinate nature.

Regional Context

VISION 2040 identifies rural lands as permanent and vital parts of the region. It recognizes that rural lands accommodate many activities associated with natural resources, as well as small-scale farming and cottage industries. VISION 2040 emphasizes the preservation of these lands and acknowledges that managing rural growth by directing urban development into designated urban lands helps to preserve vital ecosystems and economically productive lands.

VISION 2040 identifies that natural resource lands—forest, agricultural, and mineral lands—are crucial to the region’s sustainability. It recognizes that the loss of these lands—along with their productivity—has impacts on the environment, including air and water quality and quantity, our economy, and ultimately the health of the region’s people.

Local Context

Beyond the guidance in GMA and VISION 2040, these CPPs give direction for coordination of local issues outside of the UGA that may arise between jurisdictions.

The objective of these policies is to ensure a future that maintains the non-urban character of rural areas, an active resource economy, and prosperous rural cities.

DP-23The County shall establish low intensities of development and uses in areas outside of Urban Growth Areas to preserve resource lands and protect rural areas from sprawling development.

DP-24Density and development standards in rural and resource areas shall be based on accommodating the projected population and employment growth not allocated to the urban growth areas, consistent with GF-5 and the growth targets in Appendix B.

DP-25The County shall establish, in rural and resource areas, infrastructure and road standards that are consistent with appropriate development patterns and densities in rural and resource areas to maintain rural character.

DP-26Domestic water supply systems may be developed in rural and resource areas to meet the needs of rural areas. Water sources and transmission lines may be developed in rural and resource areas to meet the needs of urban growth areas.

DP-27The county may permit rural clustering in accordance with the Growth Management Act.

DP-28The County and cities should meet the demand for new commercial activity and services as well as new industrial job base in Urban Growth Areas (UGAs) with limited exceptions as identified below. Outside of UGAs, the County should limit commercial and industrial development consistent with GMA and the Regional Growth Strategy, by allowing for:

a. Resource-based and resource supportive commercial and industrial uses;

b. Limited convenience commercial development serving the daily needs of rural area residents;

c. Home-based businesses;

d. Low traffic and employment enterprises that benefit from a non-urban location due to large lots, vegetative buffers, etc; and,

e. Maintenance of the historical locations, scale, and character of existing commercial services and industrial activities.

f. Resource-dependent tourism and recreation oriented uses provided they do not adversely impact adjoining rural and resource uses.

DP-29The County shall develop strategies and programs to support agricultural and forest activities.

a. Strategies should reduce conversion pressures on all resource lands and on rural lands with resource-based activities and may include redesignation of rural land to resource land.

b. Programs may include transfer of development rights, purchase of development rights, and other conservation incentives that encourage the focus of growth in the Urban Growth Areas.

DP-30Jurisdictions should encourage the use of transfer of development rights (TDR), purchase of development rights, and conservation incentives. The objective is to focus growth in the Urban Growth Areas while lessening development pressure on rural and resource areas. Specific steps regarding TDR include:

a. Designating additional TDR sending and receiving areas;

b. Developing zoning incentives to use TDR in urban areas not already designated as receiving areas;

c. Coordinating with efforts to establish a regional TDR program; and

d. Ensuring that an area designated as a TDR receiving area by the County remains a receiving area after annexation or that the city provides an equivalent capacity for receiving TDR certificates elsewhere in the city when the County and the affected cities have adopted an interlocal agreement addressing the TDR program.