Under ORS 455.315, some buildings used for agricultural (including marijuana), forest or equine uses can be exempt from the building code. So is this the right approach for your project? The information below provides some items to consider in making this decision. It is also important to know that the first step in determining if an Ag Exemption is right for your project is to identify the land use zone your land is in. The property must be zoned for farm or forest use, as required by State Statute, in order to qualify for an Ag Exemption.
Things to consider when getting a permit
- With a permit, your building is not subject to the limitations of Ag Exempt structures. For example, you can have the public in the structure and you are not limited to a maximum of 10 people in the non-plant growing areas of the building.
- Getting a permit could save time in the long run. Obtaining a permit on a previously exempt structure can involve hiring a registered design professional, upgrading the structure so it meets the current code requirements, and opening areas of the building so building elements can be inspected. If you plan to eventually get a permit for your building, starting with a permit can save time and money.
- If you obtain a permit, all fees are assessed — including costs beyond building permit fees, like system development charges (SDC)s, school excise taxes and state surcharges. In some cases these fees can equal or exceed the project permit fees. Talk with your plans examiner to determine the full extent of the fees that will be involved.
Things to consider when choosing an Ag Exemption
- Your project will be exempt from obtaining a building permit or building-related inspections.
- System development charges (SDCs) are not assessed for AG buildings.
- Land use approval, mechanical, electrical and plumbing permits are still required, and all inspections must be obtained.
- The building cannot be used by, or open to, the public.
- You are limited to only 10 people in the building at any onetime, except in areas containing the plant growing operations.
- In the future, if you choose to convert an Ag Exempt building to a permitted structure, additional work will be needed. This may include hiring an engineer to evaluate whether the building meets code requirements, performing modifications to the structure so it is in compliance with code, and opening the existing structure to expose building elements for inspection.
- Any building using a forestry Ag Exemption can never be converted to a permitted structure.