This section describes the intent of each use zone. Snohomish County’s use zones are categorized and implemented consistent with the comprehensive plan. The comprehensive plan establishes guidelines to determine compatibility and location of use zones. The intent of each zone is established pursuant to SCC Table 30.21.020 and is set forth below in SCC 30.21.025(1) through (4).
(1) Urban Zones. The urban zones category consists of residential, commercial, and industrial zoning classifications in Urban Growth Areas (UGAs) located outside of cities in unincorporated Snohomish County. These areas are either already characterized by, or are planned for, urban growth consistent with the comprehensive plan.
(a) Single Family Residential. The intent and function of Single Family Residential zones is to provide for predominantly single family residential development that achieves a minimum net density of four dwelling units per net acre. These zones may be used as holding zones for properties that are designated Urban Medium-Density Residential, Urban High-Density Residential, Urban Commercial, Urban Industrial, Public/Institutional use (P/IU), or Other land uses in the comprehensive plan. The official Snohomish County zoning maps prepared pursuant to SCC 30.21.030 shall use the suffix "P/IU" to indicate all areas in which these zones implement the P/IU designation (e.g., R-7,200-P/IU). Single family residential zones consist of the following:
(i) Residential 7,200 sq. ft. (R-7,200);
(ii) Residential 8,400 sq. ft. (R-8,400); and
(iii) Residential 9,600 sq. ft. (R-9,600).
(b) Multiple Family Residential. Multiple Family Residential zones provide for predominantly apartment and townhouse development in designated medium- and high-density residential locations. Multiple Family Residential zones consist of the following:
(A) provide for single family dwellings, both attached and detached, or different styles, sizes, and prices at urban densities greater than those for strictly single family detached development, but less than multifamily development;
(B) provide a flexible tool for development of physically suitable, skipped-over or under-used lands in urban areas without adversely affecting adjacent development; and
(C) provide design standards and review which recognize the special characteristics of townhouses, to ensure the development of well-planned communities, and to ensure the compatibility of such housing developments with adjacent, existing, and planned uses. Townhouses are intended to serve the housing needs of a variety of housing consumers and producers. Therefore, townhouses may be built for renter occupancy of units on a site under single ownership, owner agreements pursuant to chapters 64.32 or 64.34 RCW, or owner or renter occupancy of separately conveyed units on individual lots created through formal subdivision pursuant to chapter 58.17 RCW;
(ii) Low-Density Multiple Residential (LDMR). The intent and function of the Low-Density Multiple Residential zone is to provide a variety of low-density, multifamily housing including townhouses, multifamily structures, and attached or detached homes on small lots;
(iii) Multiple Residential (MR). The intent and function of the Multiple Residential zone is to provide for high-density development, including townhouses and multifamily structures generally near other high-intensity land uses; and
(iv) Mobile Home Park (MHP). The intent and function of the Mobile Home Park zone is to provide and preserve high density, affordable residential development consisting of mobile homes for existing mobile home parks as a source of affordable detached single-family and senior housing. This zone is assigned to existing mobile home parks which contain rental pads, as opposed to fee simple owned lots, and as such are more susceptible to future development.
(c) Commercial. The Commercial zones provide for neighborhood, community and urban center commercial, and mixed use developments that offer a range of retail, office, personal service and wholesale uses. Commercial zones consist of the following:
(i) Neighborhood Business (NB). The intent and function of the Neighborhood Business zone is to provide for local facilities that serve the everyday needs of the surrounding neighborhood, rather than the larger surrounding community;
(ii) Planned Community Business (PCB). The intent and function of the Planned Community Business zone is to provide for community business enterprises in areas desirable for business but having highly sensitive elements of vehicular circulation, or natural site and environmental conditions while minimizing impacts upon these elements through the establishment of performance criteria. Performance criteria for this zone are intended to control external as well as internal effects of commercial development. It is the goal of this zone to discourage "piecemeal" and strip development by encouraging development under unified control;
(iii) Community Business (CB). The intent and function of the Community Business zone is to provide for businesses and services designed to serve the needs of several neighborhoods;
(iv) General Commercial (GC). The intent and function of the General Commercial zone is to provide for a wide variety of retail and nonretail commercial and business uses. General commercial sites are auto-oriented as opposed to pedestrian or neighborhood oriented. Certain performance standards, subject to review and approval of an official site plan, are contained in chapter 30.31B SCC;
(v) Business Park (BP). The intent and function of the Business Park zone is to provide for those business/industrial uses of a professional office, wholesale and manufacturing nature which are capable of being constructed, maintained, and operated in a manner uniquely designed to be compatible with adjoining residential, retail commercial, or other less intensive land uses, existing or planned. Strict zoning controls must be applied in conjunction with private covenants and unified control of land; many business/industrial uses otherwise provided for in the zoning code will not be suited to the BP zone due to an inability to comply with its provisions and achieve compatibility with surrounding uses. The BP zone, under limited circumstances, may also provide for residential development where sites are large and where compatibility can be assured for on-site mixed uses and for uses on adjacent properties;
(vi) Light Industrial (LI). The intent and function of the Light Industrial zone is to promote, protect, and provide for light industrial uses while also maintaining compatibility with adjacent nonindustrial areas;
(vii) Heavy Industrial (HI). The intent and function of the Heavy Industrial zone is to promote, protect, and provide for heavy industrial uses while also maintaining compatibility with adjacent nonindustrial areas; and
(viii) Industrial Park (IP/PIP). The intent and function of the Industrial Park and Planned Industrial Park zones is to provide for heavy and light industrial development under controls to protect the higher uses of land and to stabilize property values primarily in those areas in close proximity to residential or other less intensive development. The IP and remaining Planned Industrial Park (PIP) zones are designed to ensure compatibility between industrial uses in industrial centers and thereby maintain the attractiveness of such centers for both existing and potential users and the surrounding community. Vacant/undeveloped land which is currently zoned PIP shall be developed pursuant to industrial park zone regulations (chapter 30.31A SCC).
(d) Industrial Zones. The Industrial zones provide for a range of industrial and manufacturing uses and limited commercial and other nonindustrial uses necessary for the convenience of industrial activities. Industrial zones consist of the following:
(i) Business Park (BP). See description under SCC 30.21.025(1)(c)(v);
(ii) Light Industrial (LI). See description under SCC 30.21.025(1)(c)(vi);
(iii) Heavy Industrial (HI). See description under SCC 30.21.025(1)(c)(vii); and
(iv) Industrial Park (IP). See description under SCC 30.21.025(1)(c)(viii).
(e) Urban Center (UC). The intent and function of the Urban Center zone is to implement the Urban Center designation on the future land use map by providing a zone that allows a mix of high-density residential, office and retail uses with public and community facilities and pedestrian connections located within one-half mile of existing or planned stops or stations for high capacity transit routes such as light rail or commuter rail lines, regional express bus routes, or transit corridors that contain multiple bus routes or which otherwise provide access to such transportation.
(2) Rural Zones. The Rural zones category consists of zoning classifications applied to lands located outside UGAs that are not designated as agricultural or forest lands of long-term commercial significance. These lands have existing or planned rural services and facilities, and rural fire and police protection services. Rural zones may be used as holding zones for properties that are primarily a transition area within UGAs on steep slopes adjacent to non-UGA lands designated rural or agriculture by the comprehensive plan. Rural zones consist of the following:
(a) Rural Diversification (RD). The intent and function of the Rural Diversification zone is to provide for the orderly use and development of the most isolated, outlying rural areas of the county and at the same time allow sufficient flexibility so that traditional rural land uses and activities can continue. These areas characteristically have only rudimentary public services and facilities, steep slopes and other natural conditions, which discourage intense development, and a resident population, which forms an extremely rural and undeveloped environment. The resident population of these areas is small and highly dispersed. The zone is intended to protect, maintain, and encourage traditional and appropriate rural land uses, particularly those which allow residents to earn a satisfactory living on their own land. The following guidelines apply:
(i) a minimum of restrictions shall be placed on traditional and appropriate rural land uses;
(ii) the rural character of these outlying areas will be protected by carefully regulating the size, location, design, and timing of large-scale, intensive land use development; and
(iii) large residential lots shall be required with the intent of preserving a desirable rural lifestyle as well as preventing intensive urban- and suburban-density development, while also protecting the quality of ground and surface water supplies and other natural resources;
(b) Rural Resource Transition - 10 Acre (RRT-10). The intent and function of the Rural Resource Transition - 10 Acre zone is to implement the Rural Residential-10 (resource transition) designation and policies in the comprehensive plan, which identify and designate rural lands with forestry resource values as a transition between designated forest lands and rural lands;
(d) Rural Business (RB). The intent and function of the Rural Business zone is to permit the location of small-scale commercial retail businesses and personal services which serve a limited service area and rural population outside established UGAs. This zone is to be implemented as a "floating zone" and will be located where consistent with specific locational criteria. The Rural Business zone permits small-scale retail sales and services located along county roads on small parcels that serve the immediate rural residential population, and for a new rural business, are located two and one-half miles from an existing rural business, rural freeway service zone, or commercial designation in the rural area. Rural businesses, which serve the immediate rural population, may be located at crossroads of county roads, state routes, and major arterials;
(e) Clearview Rural Commercial (CRC). The intent and function of the CRC zone is to permit the location of commercial businesses and services that primarily serve the rural population within the defined boundary established by the CRC land use designation. Uses and development are limited to those compatible with existing rural uses that do not require urban utilities and services;
(f) Rural Freeway Service (RFS). The intent and function of the Rural Freeway Service zone is to permit the location of small-scale, freeway-oriented commercial services in the vicinity of on/off ramp frontages and access roads of interstate highways in areas outside a designated UGA boundary and within rural areas of the county. Permitted uses are limited to commercial establishments dependent upon highway users; and
(g) Rural Industrial (RI). The intent and function of the Rural Industrial zone is to provide for small-scale light industrial, light manufacturing, recycling, mineral processing, and resource-based goods production uses that are compatible with rural character and do not require an urban level of utilities and services.
(3) Resource Zones. The Resource zones category consists of zoning classifications that conserve and protect lands useful for agriculture, forestry, or mineral extraction or lands which have long-term commercial significance for these uses. Resource zones consist of the following:
(a) Forestry (F). The intent and function of the Forestry zone is to conserve and protect forest lands for long-term forestry and related uses. Forest lands are normally large tracts under one ownership and located in areas outside UGAs and away from residential and intense recreational use;
(b) Forestry and Recreation (F&R). The intent and function of the Forestry and Recreation zone is to provide for the development and use of forest land for the production of forest products as well as certain other compatible uses such as recreation, including recreation uses where remote locations may be required, and to protect publicly-owned parks in UGAs;
(c) Agriculture-10 Acre (A-10). The intent and function of the Agricultural-10 Acre zone is:
(ii) To protect and promote the continuation of farming in areas where it is already established and in locations where farming has traditionally been a viable component of the local economy; and
(iii) To permit in agricultural lands, with limited exceptions, only agricultural land uses and activities and farm-related uses that provide a support infrastructure for farming, or that support, promote or sustain agricultural operations and production including compatible accessory commercial or retail uses on designated agricultural lands.
(iv) Allowed uses include, but are not limited to:
(A) Storage and refrigeration of regional agricultural products;
(B) Production, sales and marketing of value-added agricultural products derived from regional sources;
(D) Support services that facilitate the production, marketing and distribution of agricultural products;
(E) Off-farm and on-farm sales and marketing of predominately regional agricultural products from one or more producers, agriculturally related experiences, products derived from regional agricultural production, products including locally made arts and crafts, and ancillary sales or service activities; and
(F) Accessory commercial or retail uses which shall be accessory to the growing of crops or raising of animals and which shall sell products predominately produced on-site, agricultural experiences, or products, including arts and crafts, produced on-site. Accessory commercial or retail sales shall offer for sale a significant amount of products or services produced on-site.
(v) Allowed uses shall comply with all of the following standards:
(A) The uses shall be compatible with resource land service standards.
(B) The allowed uses shall be located, designed and operated so as not to interfere with normal agricultural practices.
(C) The uses may operate out of existing or new buildings with parking and other supportive uses consistent with the size and scale of agricultural buildings but shall not otherwise convert agricultural land to non-agricultural uses.
(d) Mineral Conservation (MC). The intent and function of the Mineral Conservation zone is to comprehensively regulate excavations within Snohomish County. The zone is designed to accomplish the following:
(i) preserve certain areas of the county which contain minerals of commercial quality and quantity for mineral conservation purposes and to prevent incompatible land use development prior to the extraction of such minerals and materials and to prevent loss forever of such natural resources;
(ii) preserve the goals and objectives of the comprehensive plan by setting certain guidelines and standards for location of zones and under temporary, small-scale conditions to permit other locations by conditional use permit;
(iii) permit the necessary processing and conversion of such material and minerals to marketable products;
(iv) provide for protection of the surrounding neighborhood, ecological and aesthetic values, by enforcing controls for buffering and for manner and method of operation; and
(v) preserve the ultimate suitability of the land from which natural deposits are extracted for rezones and land usages consistent with the goals and objectives of the comprehensive plan.
(4) Other Zones. The Other zones category consists of existing zoning classifications that are no longer primary implementing zones but may be used in special circumstances due to topography, natural features, or the presence of extensive critical areas. Other zones consist of the following:
(a) Suburban Agriculture-1 Acre (SA-1);
(b) Rural Conservation (RC);
(c) Rural Use (RU);
(d) Residential 20,000 sq. ft. (R-20,000);
(e) Residential 12,500 sq. ft. (R-12,500); and
(f) Waterfront beach (WFB). (Added by Amended Ord. 02-064, Dec. 9, 2002, Eff date Feb. 1, 2003; Amended by Amended Ord. 03-051, June 4, 2003, Eff date June 27, 2003; Amended by Ord. 03-107, Sept. 10, 2003, Eff date Sept. 25, 2003; Amended by Ord. 03-099, Sept. 10, 2003, Eff date Oct. 6, 2003; Amended by Ord. 04-070, July 28, 2004, Eff date Aug. 23, 2004; Amended by Amended Ord. 04-074, July 28, 2004, Eff date Aug. 23, 2004; Amended by Amended Ord. 05-087, Dec. 21, 2005, Eff date Feb. 1, 2006; Amended by Amended Ord. 05-101, Dec. 21, 2005, Eff date Feb. 1, 2006; Amended by Amended Ord. 06-046, July 19, 2006, Eff date Aug. 5, 2006; Amended by Amended Ord. 06-137, Dec. 13, 2006, Eff date Jan. 1, 2007; Amended by Amended Ord. 07-029, Apr. 25, 2007, Eff date May 10, 2007; Amended by Amended Ord. 09-044 (veto overridden Sept. 8), Aug. 12, 2009, Eff date Sept. 18, 2009; Amended by Amended Ord. 09-096, Oct. 14, 2009, Eff date Nov. 9, 2009; Amended by Amended Ord. 09-079, May 12, 2010, Eff date May 29, 2010; Amended by Amended Ord. 13-064, Sept. 4, 2013, Eff date Oct. 19, 2013; Amended by Ord. 19-021, June 19, 2019, Eff date July 4, 2019; Amended by Ord. 20-080, Dec. 16, 2020, Eff date Jan. 9, 2021).