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Stay Prevents Residential Development in Some SNR Areas

Washington County cannot approve development applications for residential projects in areas mapped as Wildlife Habitat per a stay issued by LCDC. The enforcement order has been in effect since May 4, 2023.

Washington County Department of Land Use & Transportation (LUT) cannot approve new land division and development applications for residential projects that will impact areas mapped as Wildlife Habitat per a stay issued by the state Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) effective May 4. As of Nov. 6, the stay will only apply to areas within the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). It will be removed once the County adopts new regulations and those become effective. Adoption of new regulations is expected this fall. See FAQs.


The stay stems from a petition filed with LCDC, asking LCDC to direct the County to update its development standards for housing to be clear and objective, in compliance with a statutory provision (ORS 197.307, as amended by 2017 legislation) designed to increase housing development. Under the ruling from the state Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA), the county is undergoing a Goal 5 process to address protection of Significant Natural Resources (SNR), which will take about 18 months.

We are already working to update our provisions protecting significant natural resources in Washington County. The stay prevents us from approving residential applications that might affect mapped Wildlife Habitat areas until this work is completed.

Rural Natural Resource Plan
Rural Natural Resource Plan and Maps Icon

The Rural Natural Resource Plan provides the framework for guiding future land use decisions in Washington County in areas outside of the established urban growth boundaries (UGB). The plan includes 36 maps.

The Plan


Community Plans
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Community plans reflect the Comprehensive Framework Plan for the Urban Area policies and strategies. Requirements and standards are applied to development applications including, land divisions and new development.

See All Community Plans

Pre-application Conference Request Form
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Pre-application conferences are strongly encouraged for proposed developments on with mapped SNRs. Complete the form to schedule an appointment.

Pre-application Conference Request Form


The stay applies to residential land division and development applications that would impact mapped Wildlife Habitat areas. Certain development applications are exempted:

  • Applications that don't modify an existing dwelling beyond its approved footprint.
  • Applications that propose new dwellings on a lot or parcel that was created after the County's natural resource regulations went into effect in the early 1980s and don't propose modifications to the approval.
  • Applications for nonresidential projects and projects that do not include mapped Wildlife Habitat areas are not affected.

Contact LUT Development Review/Current Planning at [email protected] or 503-846-8761 with questions.

Options include:

  • Delaying impacted applications until new CDC provisions are adopted (expected late fall 2024).
  • Submitting applications that clearly show that no development will occur on mapped Wildlife Habitat areas.

For the urban unincorporated area (areas outside of cities), the County's map showing areas with SNRs are found in the community plans. Staff can assist you via email or in person by visiting our offices during regular business hours.

For lands outside the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), the Rural/Natural Resource Plan (RNRP) contains maps that show the properties that may have SNR areas.

Please contact Development Review/Current Planning to confirm the location and types of mapped SNR on your site by emailing [email protected] or calling 503-846-8761. Staff can also assist you in person. Visit us in Suite 350 in the Public Services Building during regular business hours.

LUT began work on a comprehensive update of the county’s provisions to protect natural resources under Goal 5 starting in January 2023. This work includes:

  • An update of our 30-year-old inventory of significant wildlife habitat and water resources sites
  • An environmental, social, economic and energy (ESEE) analysis of wildlife habitat and water resources as they relate to conflicting uses
  • Amendments to our Comprehensive Plan and Community Development Code to protect these resources via clear and objective standards.

Code changes are expected to go before the Washington County Board Commissioners by fall 2024. Visit Significant Natural Resources for more information, including comment opportunities.

Statewide Planning Goal 5 (Natural Resources, Scenic and Historic Areas, and Open Spaces) is a broad statewide planning goal covering a number of resources, including significant fish and wildlife habitats. It requires local governments to identify and apply appropriate protections to Significant Natural Resource (SNR) areas. We inventoried our SNR areas in the early 1980s. Our Community Development Code Section 422 includes regulations that protect, preserve or mitigate impacts to these resources.