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Department of Permitting and Environmental Review

Department of Permitting and Environmental Review
35030 SE Douglas St., Ste. 210
Snoqualmie, WA 98065-9266
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Phone: 206-296-6600
TTY Relay: 711

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Agricultural buildings

Permitting Department customers living in rural areas often inquire about requirements for constructing agricultural buildings. Below is a brief introduction to the permitting process and permit application requirements for agriculture buildings in unincorporated King County.

What is the definition of an "agricultural building"?

Agricultural buildings are structures designed for farming and agricultural practices, including but not limited to: growing and harvesting of crops and raising livestock and small animals.

Specific examples of agricultural buildings include:

  • barns
  • greenhouses
  • storage buildings for farm equipment, animal supplies or feed
  • storage buildings for equipment used to implement farming and/or agricultural practices
  • storage buildings for crops grown and raised on site (cold storage)
  • horticultural nursery.

Is a building permit required for an agricultural building?

Yes. The Permitting Department issues building permits and enforces building standards which are unique to agricultural buildings (e.g., design standards for wind and roof loads, allowable area and fire code provisions). If the proposed use exceeds that of an agricultural building (e.g., public riding arenas, sales areas, etc.), more stringent standards may be applied.

Permit fees are reduced for agricultural buildings located on properties with existing agricultural use within an Agricultural Production District and for properties zoned rural residential (RA) with a farm management plan prepared and approved by the King Conservation District (external link). For additional detail, please contact Permitting Department staff at 206-296-6600.

What are the application requirements for an agricultural building?

Permitting Department Customer Information Bulletin #9, Obtaining a Residential Building Permit*, describes the submittal requirements for a building permit. If you anticipate your use of the agricultural building to include the public or employees, then see the submittal requirements outlined in Permitting Department Customer Information Bulletin #8, Commercial and Multifamily Building Permits*.

In what zoning classifications are agricultural uses allowed?

Agricultural uses are allowed in most of the rural areas of unincorporated King County. This includes properties zoned Agricultural (A) and Rural Area (RA). For agricultural product sales, the permitted use table is found in 21A.08.070* of the King County Code (KCC).  For growing and harvesting crops and raising livestock and small animals, see KCC 21A.08.090*. For stables (as defined in KCC 21A.06.1220*), see KCC 21A.08.050*.

Some of the conditions for these practices may include: limitations on the size and sales and/or storage areas and hours of operation; requirements for annual sales projections from products grown or produced in King County; limitations on signs and lighting.

What are the required setbacks from property lines?

For complete details, see KCC 21A.12.122* Setbacks - Livestock buildings and manure storage areas. Some general guidelines are noted below:

  • The minimum setback from interior property lines for any building used to house, confine or feed swine shall be 90 feet.
  • The minimum setback from interior property lines for any building used to house, confine or feed any other livestock shall be 25 feet.
  • The minimum setback from interior property lines for any manure storage area shall be 35 feet.
  • The typical street setback is 30 feet.

More restrictive setbacks may apply for sites impacted by critical areas.

Other conditions may apply if the property owner participates in a King County program. For more information, see www.kingcounty.gov/environment/wlr/topics.aspx. and www.kingcounty.gov/environment/stewardship/critical-areas/stewardship-planning.aspx.

For questions or more information about agricultural buildings, contact the Permitting Department at 206-296-6600.  *Note: To view PDFs, free software from Adobe is required. For assistance, see helpful hints.

To request this information in alternate formats for people with disabilities, call 206-296-6600 or TTY Relay: 711.