For more complicated questions, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with staff and provide us with information in advance so we can be prepared to give you clear and thorough assistance. We can also sometimes accommodate meetings outside our regular business hours.
Land Use and Zoning Related Questions
- Uses Permitted without Review (sometimes referred to as uses allowed outright)
- Uses Permitted Subject to Type I (or ministerial) review
- Uses Subject to Standards/Type II (or administrative) review
- Uses Permitted Subject to Conditional Use Review/Type II (administrative) or Type III (quasi-judicial)
- Has intact exterior walls and roof structure
- Has indoor plumbing consisting of a kitchen sink, toilet, and bathing facilities connected to a sanitary waste disposal system
- Has interior wiring for interior lights; and
- Has a heating system
Dwellings that can be proved to exist prior to September 4, 1974 are "grandfathered" as lawfully placed. Planning approvals, building permits and septic permits can help establish if and when a dwelling was lawfully established.
The type of review for the accessory structure depends on the zone and other criteria, so for the process to permit your accessory structure please refer to the appropriate zone in the LUDO and call Planning staff for specific questions and to obtain application information.
To qualify for an agricultural exempt structure, you will need to demonstrate that the structure will be located on a farm and used exclusively for farm related purposes. This can include:
- Storage, maintenance or repair of farm machinery and equipment
- The raising, harvesting and selling of crops
- The feeding, breeding, management and sale of, or the produce of, livestock, poultry, furbearing animals or honeybees
- Dairying and the sale of dairy products; or
- Any other agricultural or horticultural use or animal husbandry, or any combination thereof, including the preparation and storage of the produce raised on the farm for human use and animal use and disposal by marketing or otherwise.
Your application must include evidence to demonstrate the proposed structure meets the state definition as well as a verified farm management plan that details the commercial farm activity. You will also need to demonstrate that the parcel where development is proposed was lawfully created, submit a site plan showing the structure can and will meet property development standards, obtain a road approach permit and sanitation approval (if applicable), submit a signed floor plan of the Farm Agricultural Building which relates to the farm management plan, and file a Restrictive Covenant for the agricultural use of the structure at the Wasco County Clerk's Office.
Setbacks are meant to help protect environmentally sensitive areas, rights of adjacent property owners and to provide buffers between potentially conflicting uses (i.e. working farms and non-farm residences).
A major home occupation has more impact to neighbors, including noise, traffic, or signage. These might be businesses like services or retail where customers or others come to the home. This might also include businesses that have more than one employee or storage of equipment or products on site.
To get started, check your zone with the GIS Web Map Tool and then refer to the LUDO (either National Scenic Area or Wasco County, depending on your zone) to check for uses permitted in your zone. You can also read about the differences between minor and major home occupations in the LUDO. Please call and speak to Planning staff for detailed information or with your questions.
Application Process and Administrative Questions
Staff also typically conducts a site visit within this time period to review property conditions and proposed development site.
Per state law, once it is determined than an application is complete, the Planning Department has 150 days to make a decision. This includes verification that the parcel was lawfully created and researching other history about the property. Some of our applications require staff to notice partner agencies and impacted property owners, within a specific distance, of the proposed development to allow them time to comment.
Once a planner has gathered all the necessary information, staff will write a staff report addressing all criteria within state law and the Land Use and Development Ordinance by drafting findings and conclusions about whether the application meets criteria, and falls within what is permitted by law. In some cases, staff will need to "condition" the approval to ensure the development or activity can comply with local, state or federal regulation. Following a complete and reviewed staff report, the Planning Department will issue a Notice of Decision and notify property owners and impacted agencies. Those receiving notice have 12 days to submit an appeal to the proposed decision. In the National Scenic Area, the appeal period is 15 days.
Many ministerial (or Type I) decisions can be processed by staff in two weeks. These decisions do not require notification or a staff report. Administrative (Type II) decisions, which include the notification process and a staff report typically take three months to complete. National Scenic Area applications can take four to five months, because of additional criteria and evaluations from agency partners.
Quasi-judicial (Type III) decisions that require a public hearing will typically take longer, as they require some additional noticing periods and coordination, scheduling and preparation for a public hearing.
We recommend working directly with staff to ensure your application is complete before you submit it. We also strongly recommend you ensure complete applications by carefully and thoroughly reading and reviewing it. We also recommend you allow yourself several months before you need to start your project/development to submit your application as we are often the first step in the process that may include Building Codes Services, Health Department, or other permits.
The land use decision becomes final if no appeals are filed within the appeal period. Once the decision becomes final, conditions need to be met within the time frame set forth in the approval. Conditions of approval are recorded by staff with the Wasco County Clerk prior to applying for any building permits. Typically, these conditions include tasks that you need to complete in order to finalize your permit.
A land use approval will become invalid if development has not started within two (2) years of the date of approval; and if the use approved is discontinued for any reason for one (1) continuous year or more. Your notice of decision will typically include the expiration date of your permit. For tips on how to understand your notice of decision, please see our handout here
Planning Commissioners are volunteers strategically made up of a diverse cross-section of the community. They are not typically professional planners, as they are meant to represent the community in much the same way a jury does. Planning Department staff, on the other hand, are skilled professionals that work directly with applicants on inquiries, produce staff reports, and generally do the day to day work.