Grading Permits


In Snohomish County, agricultural and development activities that cause significant soil disturbance may need to obtain a land disturbing activity permit before the work begins. Land disturbing activity includes clearing, grading (cut and fill) and the creation of new, replaced, or new plus replaced impervious surfaces. The purpose of this regulation is to protect adjacent waterways and properties from potentially harmful runoff impacts such as erosion or sediment that could result from improper grading work. Normal, ongoing farming activities such as plowing are typically exempt from this requirement.

The guidelines on this webpage pertain to agricultural activities in zones where agriculture is an allowed use. You can find out what zone your property is in by going to the Regulatory Boundary Maps and entering your address or parcel number. After you bring up the corresponding map, showing an aerial view of your property, click on ‘regulatory report’. This step will give you the zoning and the allowable uses. Allowable uses, also known as permitted uses, are uses that are permitted outright, but must still meet development regulations.

This guide is intended as a quick reference to help farm operators know when a land disturbing activity permit may be needed. Because every property and situation is different, more information may be required before an answer is given. Federal regulations may also apply. Please call the planning and development services at 425-388-3311, to have your questions answered.


The main considerations are identified for you in the table below. You will find applicable portions of the Snohomish County code are excerpted in the notes. Excerpts from the code may have been abbreviated, paraphrased or edited to help provide clarity. This information should not be construed as replacing or superseding existing code language.

If your agricultural activity requires another type of permit from Snohomish County, such as a building permit, flood hazard or shoreline permit.

If you're converting certain types of wetlands to agricultural use for the first time (see Notes 2 and 3 (PDF)). The term "converting" means bringing a wetland into a use to which it has not been previously subjected.

Next steps if a permit is needed.
If your activity occurs on a farm in connection with the commercial production of commonly recognized farm products (see Note 1 (PDF)), doesn't require any other permits, such as a building permit, flood hazard or shoreline permit, and is not occurring in a wetland (see Note 2 and 3 (PDF)) or if it is occurring in a wetland, it is a lesser-value category wetland (see Note 3 (PDF)).

If you are grading as part of normal, ongoing farm activities in Previously Converted wetlands that have been producing commodity crops within the past five years (see Notes 4 and 5 (PDF)).

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