Plum Crazy Real Estate and Business


What does Rural Industrial zoning mean in Snohomish County, anyway?

In Snohomish County, its not uncommon to run into small patches of properties zoned "Rural Industrial" as you get out of the urban areas.   I'm often asked "What does 'Rural Industrial' mean?" and what are some of the allowed uses?

In Snohomish county, the Rural Industrial (RI) designation is primarily reserved for properties located in rural areas that historically had an industrial use before the Growth Management Act.  It should come as no real surprise that, with Washington's timber industry and extensive farming industry, many of these properties are related to that... lumber mills, shake mills, warehouses, food processing plants, and supporting facilities like truck and car repair.

Snohomish County Code (Section 30.21) provides the description:

The intent and function of the rural industrial zone is to provide for small-scale light industrial, light manufacturing, recycling, mineral processing, and resource-based goods production uses that are compatible with rural character and do not require an urban level of utilities and services.

 So, what are some of the allowed uses?  Well, there are quite a few. :-)   The Use matrix, a table listing various uses and noting if they are permitted outright, permitted conditionally, is quite long.  Here is a list of some of the more common uses permitted for RI zoned property:

  • Commercial Vehicle Storage
  • Fabrication/Metal Working Shop
  • Farm Stands
  • Log Scaling
  • Saw/Shake/Shingle Mill
  • Storage Structures up to 2400 SF
  • Farm/Equestrian Facilities
  • Food Production Facilities
  • "Forestry Industry" storage and maintenance facilities

This list is not comprehensive and does not include all the possible 'conditional' uses that might be permitted.  Its important for anyone thinking of purchasing such a property to verify BEFORE PURCHASE that their use will be allowed by the county.  Your best bet is to review the rules yourself, contact a land use expert, and contact the county directly.

So, what does a RI zoned property look like?  Well, as it happens, I have 2.7 acres, zoned RI, listed for sale in Sultan, Washington, located directly on Highway 2.  The property was formerly a shake mill and includes the mill building (large, largely open sided building), large "truck repair" building (with a tenant using it for just that), and a good size shop building that is currently used by the tenant for a fiberglass business.  The property has a large yard with plenty of room for parking vehicles.  The property owner is renting out part of the yard for heavy vehicle storage.

Would you like to take a look from overhead?

View Larger Map

So, now you know... and as GI Joe used to say.. "Knowing is half the battle".

Jason Hershey, Managing Broker
Commercial Sales and Leasing
CENTURY 21 North Homes Realty, Inc.
13322 Hwy 99 South, Suite #201
Everett, WA 98204
Cell: 425-417-5389
Fax: 425-223-3148

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Jason Hershey, Designated Broker
Tellus Real Estate Solutions, LLC
PO Box 1113
Duvall, WA 98019
Office: (877) 413-7325
Cell: 425-417-5389Fax: 425-223-3148


Comment balloon 1 commentJason Hershey • July 07 2010 01:02AM


I believe that the separation of residential, commercial, and industrial space into separate pockets of land is going to be somehow modified. Many people want to live, work, and play in the same location. We see more and more communities in L.A. where people can work and live. 

Posted by Inna Ivchenko, Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA (Barcode Properties) almost 3 years ago