Permits, Reviews, & Right of Way

County Right-of-Way is considered land dedicated for public streets, sidewalks, public utilities, transmission lines, walkways, trails, and bike paths. Because this critical infrastructure is used so heavily every day, construction and installation activities performed in the county Right-of-Way must be regulated to protect the safety of users and ensure consistency throughout the county.

Together with the Community Planning & Economic Development Department (CPED) , our Development Review and Real Estate Services staff work to help residents and contractors navigate the complex new construction and building permit process. Forms and applications required are often available online, and CPED operates the Permit Center daily to give residents one-on-one assistance. We will provide links to the forms and applications library for your convenience.

CPED operates the Permit Center, which is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and located in Bldg 1 of the Thurston County Courthouse. Although appointments ARE required for non-residential building permit applications, they are not required for all other types.   Please CLICK HERE for more information.Please arrive no later than noon if you plan to submit an application. Each application has a list of submittal requirements, which you'll see on the application itself. The Building Development Center will only accept application packages that are complete.

 Permits/agreements for work in county Right-of-Way

Any work performed in the county Right-of-Way requires approval by the Public Works Development Review group. They issue a variety of permits to ensure road standards, drainage requirements, utility ordinances, building codes, and other regulations are met.

Examples of work done in a county Right-of-Way:

  • ♦New construction activities, such as building a new road and sidewalk.
  • ♦Maintenance, relocation, or installation of utility pipelines and wires.
  • ♦Removing trees greater than 24” in diameter.
  • ♦Installation of a driveway.

 Types of permits needed

Types of permits needed:

  • ♦Encroachment Permit is needed for work in the county Right-of-Way.
  • ♦Access Permit is needed to install a privately-owned structure within a Right-of-Way that is not open or is not maintained by the county.
  • ♦Utility Permit is required for utility work in the Right-of-Way. Generally utility companies secure this permit on behalf of an applicant.
  • ♦Construction/Grading Permit is required for any grading activities performed in the county Right-of-Way.

Visit the applications and forms webpage to get the encroachment, access, or grading/clearing permit you need.


Development Review is located in the Building Development Center, 2nd floor of Building 1, at the County Courthouse complex at 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW, Olympia.

 Scoping review

Before submitting an application, a scoping review for traffic impact studies and stormwater drainage plans can be performed by the Development Review group. This review allows applicants to present their conceptual ideas for studies and designs, and receive constructive feedback, before starting the permitting process.

Read the Scoping Review Request Guide and apply for a review.

 Property to Buy, Sell, or Vacate

Sometimes construction projects require additional county Right-of-Way to expand a road, add bike lanes, install a sidewalk, add a retaining wall, or any number of other improvements to public roads. This additional land is purchased from private property owners through the Real Estate Services group.

Are you looking for information on how to submit a request to vacate a right-of-way? Check out our Vacation Guide

 Parcels, deeds, plats, and road plans

Need to research a parcel, deed, plat, or road plan?
Search the Public Works's online library
containing property histories going back many years.