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Land Use Ordinances


Zoning regulations are rules that determine how parcels of land may be used or developed.

Most property in the Thurston County is assigned one zone, although some properties have "overlay zones." Overlay zones modify the provisions of the base zones for a specific purpose.  For example, the McAllister Geologically Sensitive Area District is a single-family residential zone, but it has extra requirements to protect a drinking water aquifer.

Types of Zones

There are more than 60 types of zoning in Thurston County, but they generally fall into these categories:

  • Residential - Areas designated for single and multi-family residences.
  • Commercial - Areas intended for businesses which provide consumer goods and services as well as a wide variety of commercial, retail, office and recreational uses.
  • Industrial - Areas intended for research and development, factories, warehousing, and other industrial uses.
  • Agricultural - Areas now used for agricultural and farming purposes which may be developed for urban use sometime in the future.
  • Open Space - Public recreational uses or area to be left in a generally natural state.

Thurston County's zoning regulations are found in Title 20 of Thurston County's Code (and, for Urban Growth Areas, Title 21, Title 22 and Title 23).  The backbone of the zoning code is Thurston County's Comprehensive Plan, which is basically a master blueprint for land-use in unincorporated Thurston County.

How to Obtain Zoning Information on Your Project

  • Information Line: Call our Information Line at (360) 786-5490 ext. 2 to get automated information about zoning.  Click here for instructions. (Hint: It's easier if you know your parcel number.  If you do not know the tax parcel number, call the Thurston County Assessor's Office at (360) 786-5410 or look up the number on the Assessor's Parcel Search website. Important: When using parcel search, use the street address and the street name only.  Do not use directions or words such as "Way" or "Avenue" or "Blvd."  For example, for Thurston County Building 4, you'd type in 929 and then Lakeridge -- not 929 Lakeridge Drive S.W.)
  • Geodata: Thurston County's Geodata website offers a wealth of information about properties, including zoning. Click here to find out how to check the zoning on your property.
  • Visit the Building Development Center: To receive site information in person, feel free to visit our Permit Assistance Center Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Click here for directions.

So What Does Your Zoning Designation Mean?

How your property is zoned affects how it can be used and developed.  For example, for each type of zone, Thurston County's zoning code spells out how properties within the zone may be used, setback requirements, the maximum density allowed (ie, how many dwellings are allowed per acre), lot sizes, and design standards (height limits, setbacks etc.). 

Now that you know how your property is zoned, visit Title 20 of Thurston County code and look up the specific requirements for the zone.

NOTE:  If your property is located within a city Urban Growth Area, be sure to check Title 21, Title 22 or Title 23 of the Thurston County Code.  Urban growth areas are areas designated by a county, with input from towns and cities, where urban development is to occur. Urban growth areas have their own zoning requirements, which typically mirror the requirements of the neighboring city.

Rezoning Amendments

Properties are sometimes rezoned when Thurston County's Comprehensive Plan is amended.  To check for proposed rezoning amendments, click here.

Special Use Permits

The zoning code also identifies certain uses that require a higher level of permitting. These take the form of "special use" permits.  Click here for a description.

Administrative Variance

A property owner may apply to have a setback requirement reduced by up to 50% through an "administrative variance."  Click here for details

Contact Us

Thurston County Building Development Center, 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW, Olympia, WA 98502-6045.
Phone: (360) 786-5490. TTY/TDD call 711 or 1-800-833-6388  E-mail: permit@co.thurston.wa.us.


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