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Zoning: What is it, and Why do we have it?

“Zoning” is defined as:  “The separation or division of a municipality [or county] into districts in accordance with their construction and the nature and extent of their use, and the dedication of such districts to particular uses designed to serve the general welfare.” (Source: West’s Encyclopedia of American Law

Zoning codes have two specific functions: First, they regulate the use of a particular property by describing the types of development that are allowable.  Second, they control the dimensions of improvements that can be placed on the property (often called “performance standards”) such as height, setbacks, and lot size and density.  The primary purpose of zoning regulations is to ensure that adjacent land uses are compatible with one another.  

Zoning helps local citizens bring about orderly growth and change.  It controls population density and helps create attractive, healthful residential areas.  It also helps assure property owners and residents that the characteristics (and property values) of nearby areas will remain stable. 

The separate districts referred to in the above definition have a specific "zoning designation". For each zone there are "Allowed Uses", which do not need special approval; "Conditional Uses", that can be done only with a Conditional Use Permit, and are subject to the conditions of approval of that permit; and "Prohibited Uses" which are not permitted at all. In addition to regulating land uses, each zone has specific performance standards, which can only be varied from by obtaining a Zoning Variance. Both Conditional Use Permits and Zoning Variances are issued by the Permit Center, and decided by the Hearing Examiner. There is a process available to amend the zoning ordinance, including Re-Zoning portions of the county.

Click here for a list of zones, with links to their standards and land use regulation.

The Clallam County Zoning Code consists of two types of documentation: 

  1. A map of the county, showing how each piece of property is classified.
    • The Clallam County Zoning map is contained in several layers on the county web maps:
    • On the Parcel and Critical Areas Map, zoom in to at least 1:100,000 scale, and zoning layers will automatically appear.
  2. Text describing performance standards and the types of land use activities that are allowed and prohibited in each zone.