Land Use Planning FAQ

What are the setbacks for my property?
Each zone has different structural setbacks. This question can be answered without coming to the Planning office if the map id # (Township, Range, Section and Tax Lot) or the address is given. There are special setbacks of 200 feet when a non-resource zoned property is adjacent to a resource zoned property. If there is a stream or irrigation canal on the property, there are special setbacks for this as well.
Can I have a guest house? Can I have mother-in-law quarters?
The County considers a guest house a dwelling. The parcel size must be large enough for the zone to allow two dwellings. Using the Rural Residential (RR-5) zone as an example, if the parcel is ten acres in size, then two dwellings may be on the property because the requirement for the RR-5 zone is one dwelling per five acres. 
What do I need to do to put a home on my property?
The first step is to talk with the zoning section. If the property is zoned residentially, the process is different than if the property is zoned for resource use. The planners will always need a plot plan of the property. This should show all property lines, all existing structures, if any, and the proposed location for all new structures. This information is needed to check all setbacks for the property. If the parcel is going to need a well and septic system, the building section has a good handout on the procedures for installing these. In order for a dwelling to be placed on a resource zoned piece of property, an application must be made through the zoning section. 
What do I need to do to split my property?
The first step is to determine the zone of the property. All zones have specific minimum lot sizes for new parcels. For instance, the Rural Residential (RR-5) zone requires that all new parcels be five acres in size, so the parcel must be at least ten acres in size in order to be split. If the property is within Medford's Urban Reserve, it cannot be partitioned at this time. All lots and parcels created after October 28, 1980, must also have 25 feet of frontage along a state highway, state access road, County road, city street, or private road. A partition requires an application through the Planning office and is subject to public notice.
Am I in a floodplain?
The only way to determine if a parcel is in the floodplain is to look at the plat maps and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) maps at the Planning office. This information needs to be determined in the Planning office due to the complexities of locating a specific tax lot on the FEMA map.
Can I replace my home? With a mobile home?
The answer to this question is dependent on the zoning of the tax lot in question. In residential zones, a home is an outright permitted use but will be subject to the structural setbacks of that zone, and possibly the 100-foot fuelbreak requirement. In a resource zone, the answer to this question becomes much more complicated. If there is a dwelling that has already been recognized as a legal dwelling by the zoning and building sections, the answer is yes, subject to all of the siting standards and setbacks for that zone. If there is an existing dwelling that zoning and building have no record of, there are many things that must be determined before this question can be answered.
What is a fuelbreak?
The Wildland Interface Fire Committee has developed guidelines for fire safety in a wildfire hazard area. A fuelbreak is an area of reduced and/or managed vegetation designed to slow and minimize fire intensity. A 100-foot fuelbreak is required around all new structures in any resource zone (FR, WR, EFU and OSR), and rural residential zones (RR-5, RR-10 and RR-00) that are outside of an Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) or Urban Containment Boundary (UCB).
Why does reviewing my application take so long?
Once an application is submitted, the County has 120 days if the parcel is within an Urban Growth Boundary or 150 days if outside of an Urban Growth Boundary to render a decision in accordance with state laws. This timeframe must include the appeal period and time for hearings if any are requested. After the application is submitted with the required fee, maps and research are done for the property in question. The assigned planner must determine if the application is complete, determine lot legality, and review the application to determine if the proposal will meet all of the County ordinances as well as State laws. Agencies may also be noticed for comment. Once the planner has all of the information needed to make a thorough and accurate decision, a staff report is completed, reviewed and mailed out to surrounding property owners who have 12 days to request a hearing. A planner has many files that are being worked on at one time; applications are reviewed in the order they are submitted.