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Rural Planning and Development

Farm with green fieldOregon's statewide planning program conserves rural land for farming and forestry, protects natural resources and wildlife habitat, and allows development in appropriate places. The program discourages "sprawling" development that takes place outside an urban growth boundary. However, rural development is permitted under certain circumstances. A county decides where rural development should be allowed by following what is called the "exceptions process." Rural residential, recreational, commercial, and industrial zones (in "exception areas") allow development in certain rural areas (see below). All rural development is overseen by the counties.

The term "rural" means different things to different people. In Oregon's statewide planning program, "rural land" is, generally, land outside of an urban growth boundary. (Land inside of an urban growth boundary is never considered "rural".) "Rural use" is harder to define; but the Land Conservation and Development Commission has listed allowed rural uses in its administrative rules.

Non-farm and non-forest uses are permitted in exclusive farm use and forest zones. See Farm and Forest Protection for more information on these uses.

Statewide Planning Goal 14, Urbanization, limits new urban uses outside of urban growth boundaries. Urban growth boundaries have been a key component of the planning program as they prevent sprawl of urban uses across the rural landscape.

Statewide Planning Goal 11, Public Facilities and Services limits extension of urban services such as sewerage to areas outside of urban growth boundaries in order to lessen demand for urban development in rural areas.


Gordon Howard
Community Services Division Manager
Phone: 503-934-0034

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