Regulations and Laws

Land Use Rules

For many, rural is somewhere out in the country, someplace away from it all. True, but it can also be within a city’s boundaries or on that increasingly common area know as the Urban/Rural Interface (where urban meets rural).

Use the following information as a guide to understand the definitions, how your property is zoned and the rules governing what you can do with it. It is how Clackamas County government interprets rural, and how it applies the state and local rules and regulations. This may differ from land use rules within city limits.

Unincorporated Communities and Rural Lands

Unincorporated Communities or Rural Centers are settlements located outside urban growth boundaries in which concentrated residential development is combined with limited commercial, industrial or public uses. Rural lands are lands that are outside urban growth boundaries. These rural lands are typically suitable for sparse settlement such as small farms, woodlands or a variety of small to large acreage home sites. They typically do not have public facilities, or have limited facilities, and are not necessarily suitable or intended for urban small lot development. They are often, but not necessarily, too small to be of meaningful agricultural or forest use.

Agriculture Areas

Agriculture areas are lands in the county capable of being farmed. They are suitable for farm uses because of good soil, suitability for grazing, good climate conditions and have existing (or the potential for) irrigation. Agriculture lands have appropriate land use patterns with areas of large lots, existing farming or land necessary to support farming on land close to existing farms.

Forest Areas

Forest areas are composed of existing and potential forestlands suitable for a variety of commercial forest uses. Also included in this definition is land needed for watershed protection, wildlife and fish habitat, recreation use, lands with extreme climate, soil capable of growing trees and steep hillsides requiring vegetative cover for stability. Forestland provides buffers from small lot rural residential development, provides wind breaks, has large unpopulated areas for wildlife habitat and includes areas along scenic corridors.

Clackamas SWCD