Agri-Tourism Events and Activities
What is “Agri-Tourism”?In 2011 the Oregon Legislature approved Senate Bill 960 (SB960) allowing counties to establish agri-tourism and other commercial events or activities. Marion County adopted these regulations on May 2, 2012 allowing rural farm-zoned property owners to hold, by permit, a certain number of events each year on their property for profit.
Is this countywide?Yes, but SB960 allowed these events only in farm zones – Exclusive Farm Use, Special Agriculture, and Farm/Timber. The agri-tourism events and activities are to be related to and supportive of agriculture.
What are the "event" regulations for other zones in Marion County?Citizens can hold “personal” events on their property, regardless of the zone, including family weddings, reunions, celebratory parties, etc. Property owners can hold non-personal events on their property, regardless of the zone, provided they are not charging or collecting a fee or compensated in any way. For example, a property owner can allow a friend to have a wedding or family reunion on his/her property as long as they did not charge the friend a fee or collect a fee from attendees. When a property owner collects a fee or other form of compensation from holding or allowing an event on his/her property, it is considered a business. This includes only being compensated for expenses the property owner incurred from the event.
What kind of permit is required for agri-tourism events?There are three types of agri-tourism permits processed under Marion County Code, Chapter 17.120, Specific Conditional Uses. In summary:
“One Event Conditional Use” Permit: is valid for one event each calendar year for a maximum of 72 consecutive hours, allows up to 500 attendees, and 250 vehicles parked onsite.
“Up to Six Events Limited Conditional Use” Permit: authorizes six events each calendar year held for a maximum of 72 consecutive hours per event. It is valid for two years and may be renewed.
“Up to 18 Events Conditional Use” Permit: authorizes 18 events each calendar year on a minimum lot size of 80 acres. Events must be incidental and subordinate to existing commercial farm use of the parcel and necessary to support commercial farm uses or agricultural enterprises in the area. It is valid for four years, and may be renewed.
How do I obtain an agri-tourism permit?Marion County Planning Division issues the Conditional Use Agri-tourism Permits. You can download a "Conditional Use Agri-Tourism" Application or obtain one from our office. This form requests general icontact nformation, location and size of the property, a statement summarizing the request being made, etc. You will also need to complete a "Conditional Use Agri-Tourism Supplemental Information" form that requests general information specific to the proposed event(s) and how it relates to farming on the property and/or in the area. If you have questions or need assistance completing the application and/or supplemental form, contact our office. We have staff available each day from 8-4 and happy to help in any way possible.
What happens after I submit the application?Once a complete application is received, the Planning Division will request comments from other departments and affected agencies. Staff will then review the application for compliance with various land use regulations. In approximately 30 days a decision will be issued approving, conditionally approving, or denying the request. A copy is sent to the applicant and property owners within 1500 feet of the subject property. Please note there is a 15-day appeal period. The appeal process and conditions, if approved, are explained in the Notice of Decision.
What is the difference between agri-tourism and mass gathering events?The County’s Outdoor Mass Gathering Permit is required for events with over 750 attendees and allowed in any zone subject to certain standards and regulations. The agri-tourism events are only for property in a resource zone currently in farm use. These permits also and have conditions regarding impact to the land, type of building(s) used, and must be incidental to existing farm use on the parcel.
How do agri-tourism events differ from farms that hold special events?Some local farms hold activities (corn maze, hay rides, strawberry shortcake day, etc.) as part of the commercial use of the farm. Generally, these activities are allowed provided they are incidental to the commercial farm use of the property. For example, customers purchase ears of corn and then go through the post-harvest corn maze on a farm; participate in an apple-bobbing contest at an apple orchard at the end of the season; or take their child to buy a pumpkin grown on a farm and then pay to have another one thrown from a catapult. These activities are related but incidental to the commercial farm use occurring on those farms.
Agri-tourism events, with one exception, must also be incidental, subordinate and related to existing farm use on a parcel but are not required to occur on a commercial farm. The exception is the up-to-18 events permit. For example, the farm operations mentioned above operating a corn maze or pumpkin patch could not hold, for a fee, wedding events or other “gatherings” on the property without obtaining an agri-tourism Conditional Use Permit.
What type of restrictions will be placed on these agri-tourism events?The specific regulations covering Conditional Use Agri-Tourism permits are listed in Marion County Code 17.120.090. In addition to the limitations on number of events, hours, vehicles, and attendees noted above, the following criteria and standards may apply:
How do you interpret "...must be incidental and subordinate to existing farm use on the parcel”?Generally speaking, the act of holding events on the parcel should be secondary or subsidiary to the farm use of the parcel. In addition, the property must be receiving farm deferral through the Assessor’s Office. Review will occur on a case-by-case basis, as are all Conditional Use applications.
Need more information?The Planning Division is here to help you through the process, deal with these new regulations and find solutions or alternatives, when necessary. Contact us at (503) 588-5038 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Our office is open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. As this is a new program, state-wide, we would appreciate your feedback. Please consider sending us a quick email or note. Did you have difficulty with a certain regulation or condition? Is there a certain type of event that doesn't "fit" with our regulations? Have you had a neighbor hold agri-tourism events? How was it? If you've applied for a permit, what worked or didn't work? Thanks!