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Specialists from Building, Planning, and Environmental Health are available to help you determine what permitting will be required for your project or if you may have an exemption.
Subdivisions can generally be grouped into two categories: administrative subdivisions and subdivisions requiring public hearings. Administrative subdivisions do not require public hearings or public notification, and are generally administered by county staff. Conditions placed on the proposal are drawn from relevant county codes.
Subdivisions requiring public hearings also involve staff recommendations, but ultimately the conditions placed on the subdivision are approved by the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC). The process includes staff analysis of relevant county codes, SEPA review, a public hearing, and recommendations from the Planning Commission before it is sent to the BOCC.
Administrative subdivisions are the most common form of subdivision in our County, and include:
Short Subdivisions - The division or redivision of land into 4 or fewer parcels, any of which is less than 5 acres in size (CCC 18.34).
Large Lot Subdivisions - A division or redivision of land where each lot is greater than 5 acres in size and any one is less than 10 acres in size (CCC 18.38).
Subdivisions requiring public hearings are generally known as “Long Plats.” Though less common, they typically involve significantly more lots than administrative subdivisions. They include:
Rural Subdivisions - Divisions of land containing 5 or more proposed lots, and are located in an area designated “Rural” by the Comprehensive Plan and/or Land Use Ordinance (CCC 18.50).
Urban Subdivision - Divisions of land containing 5 or more proposed lots, and are located in an area designated “Urban” by the Comprehensive Plan and/or Land Use Ordinance (CCC 18.32).
Planned Unit Developments - A type of subdivision characterized by a unified site design, clustering of buildings, common open space, density increases, and a mix of land uses and building types (CCC 18.30).
Use the Online EPIC maps to find your lot and determine Zoning and Comprehensive Plan designation. You may need to toggle the layers and adjust the zoom.
Most of the unincorporated land in Cowlitz County carries the zoning classification of ‘Unzoned’ or UZ. UZ areas are compatible with a wide range of land uses.
In most cases, yes.
If you are in a UZ zoning designation, the minimum area required for subdivision is determined by the 2017 Comprehensive Plan, and varies depending on the area and access to sewer and public water. Use the 2017 Comprehensive Plan to determine the minimum acreage in your area. If you are in any other zoning designation, look to the zoning code for your minimum lot size.
Yes. A signed letter of authorization from the current property owner will be necessary for application submittal.
Yes. A Staff Consultation in our Kelso Office or over the phone is a great first step. To provide the most valuable information, a site plan and narrative description is necessary.
Cowlitz County does not fully plan under GMA; because of this we cannot charge impact fees.
Planning Clearance is the first required permit.
Apply for a staff consultation to get the ball rolling. During this meeting staff can review your preliminary proposal to ensure you have the necessary information to continue forward.
If the project cannot avoid the stream or river buffers, a biologist’s approval through a Habitat Assessment may be necessary. Speak to one of our Environmental Planners for more details.
If the project cannot avoid the mapped Geohazard, an assessment from a Geological Engineer may be necessary. Speak to one of our Environmental Planners for more details.
If your project is in the Unincorporated Urbanized Area stormwater review will be necessary.
If your project is in a Rural Area, stormwater review could be necessary for larger developments.
Please speak to the Planning Department first, our Harvest Permits can be processed during the Planning stage, potentially saving valuable time and money.
A detached or attached second dwelling similar in appearance to the primary dwelling. Examples include: a Mother in-law style dwelling above garage, an outbuilding with a small dwelling built in for rental income, or a house addition for an aging family friend. The ADU may be a manufactured or modular home. ADU’s require standard residential permitting.
An ADU is a great option. ADU’s can be up to 1,200 square feet of livable space.
Yes. There are no requirements for owner occupancy or tenant occupancy.
In areas classified as urban and suburban in the Cowlitz County Comprehensive Plan, one attached ADU and one detached ADU may be established as an accessory to a single-family dwelling per lot. In all other Comprehensive Plan classifications, only one ADU may be established as an accessory to a single-family dwelling per lot.
One space per ADU.
This depends on the capacity of your existing well and septic system.
Contact the Environmental Health Unit concerning septic or well systems at email@example.com or (360) 414-5599 Press 5, Option 2.
Visit the Environmental Health Unit website.
The Environmental Health Unit can provide a list of Septic Designers with experience in Cowlitz County.