County approves changes to agriculture code for uses and agrotourism


The Board of County Commissioners approved an ordinance amending its agriculture code on Tuesday, February 20.

The changes expand permissible agricultural uses to the county’s long-term agriculture district and clarify regulations in the agritourism overlay district. The updates are done by amending four chapters of the Thurston County Code Title 20, which contains provisions relating to zoning.

The long-term agriculture district intends to conserve agricultural lands of long-term commercial significance. In areas with non-prime farmland soils under this district, the following uses are now allowed as secondary uses:

●        agricultural crop production facility

●        agricultural supply sales

●        commercial biochar production facility

●        home-based industry

●        nurseries or retail greenhouses

●        renewable energy facilities

●        stockyard

For lands with prime farmland soils, up to one acre of the area can be utilized for these uses if the property does not have access to non-prime farmland soil.

In the agritourism overlay district, the standards were streamlined to simplify the permitting process for uses like farmers markets, accessory non-agricultural commercial or retail uses, small-scale beverage production facilities, country inns, agricultural homestays, and tourism-related uses.

Before approving these amendments, the board held a public hearing for the ordinance on January 16 and held two follow-up work sessions to discuss the ordinance further.

The ordinance also went through the county’s planning commission, which approved it on August 2 last year through a 5-2 vote. County staff previously informed the board that the commission’s vote was not unanimous as the commission voted on it as a package along with the updated overlay map of the long-term agriculture and agritourism and districts.

Senior Planner Andrew Deffobis told the board that the county will hold separate public hearings about the updated map later this year.


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