Rural Lands

Rural Lands are areas containing farms, forests and scattered houses, exclusively outside of the Primary Service Area, where a lower level of public service delivery exists or where utilities and urban services do not exist and are not planned for in the future.

Recommended Uses

Appropriate primary uses include agricultural and forestal activities, together with certain recreational public or semipublic and institutional uses that require a spacious site and are compatible with the natural and rural surroundings. Retail and other commercial uses serving Rural Lands are encouraged to be located at planned commercial locations on major thoroughfares inside the Primary Service Area.

However, a few of the smaller direct agricultural or forestal-support uses (including agribusiness and eco-tourism), home-based occupations, or certain uses which require very low intensity settings relative to the site in which it will be located may be considered on the basis of a case-by-case review, provided such uses are compatible with the natural and rural character of the area, in accordance with the Rural Lands Development Standards. These uses should be located in a manner that minimizes effects on agricultural and forestal activities, and located where public services and facilities, especially roads, can adequately accommodate them.

Recommended Density

Rural residential uses associated with legitimate agricultural and forestal activities are appropriate when they are at a very low density and pattern, significantly lower than currently permitted. Lower overall gross densities are desirable to achieve a rural character. Soils must be suitable for individual waste disposal systems.

Residential developments not related to agricultural or forestal uses are only appropriate when they meet the Rural Lands Development Standards and minimize adverse impacts on Rural Lands, in particular its rural character and the soils more suited for agriculture.

In terms of the desired scale of Rural Lands development, very low density development, significantly lower than currently permitted, or rural clusters on a small scale which meet the design guidelines of the Rural Lands Development Standards are encouraged, while large concentrations of residential development are strongly discouraged as such subdivisions interrupt rural qualities and significantly increase the demand for urban services and transportation facilities.

Use & Character Compatibility

  • Uses in Rural Lands should preserve the natural, wooded, and rural character of the County. Particular attention should be given to the following:
    • Locating structures and uses outside of sensitive areas;
    • Maintaining existing topography, vegetation, trees, and tree lines to the maximum extent possible, especially along roads and between uses;
    • Discouraging development on farmland, open fields, and scenic roadside vistas;
    • Encouraging enhanced landscaping to screen developments located in open fields using a natural appearance or 1 that resembles traditional hedgerows and windbreaks;
    • Locating new roads so that they follow existing contours and old roadway corridors whenever feasible;
    • Limiting the height of structures to an elevation below the height of surrounding mature trees;
    • Minimizing the number of street and driveway intersections along the main road by providing common driveways and interconnection of developments; and
    • Utilizing lighting only where necessary and in a manner that eliminates glare and brightness.
  • Site non-agricultural/non-forestal uses in areas designated Rural Lands so that they minimize impacts or do not disturb agricultural/forestal uses, open fields, and important agricultural/forestal soils and resources.
  • Encourage the preservation and reuse of existing agricultural structures such as barns, silos, and houses.