Butte County, CA, Zoning Ordinance

Updated July 2021

By: Butte County

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Agritourism | Food Systems

The county’s code of ordinances address agritourism. It establishes a Unique Agriculture Overlay Zone (§24-45) to support and enhance family farms, unique crops, or historic ways of farming by maintaining viable small-scale or historic agricultural operations and their essential rural settings. in unique Rural Residential, Foothill Residential and Agricultural areas of the county. The overlay zone allows educational and tourism uses on working farms, including farmstays and special events, and includes development and operational standards to protect adjacent residential and agricultural uses.

Farmland Protection

The county’s code of ordinances address farmland protection through an article establishing agricultural buffers (§24-81 et seq.). It is intended to conserve and stabilize agricultural land uses in order to protect agricultural lands from encroachment and conversion to residential uses. It establishes a setback of 300 feet for dwellings from property lines abutting agricultural zones. The code of ordinances also provides for a process to request exceptions to the requirement.

solar energy

The county’s code of ordinances addresses solar energy systems with a four-tier definition system for Utilities (§24-157.B, §24-304). Minor utilities, including Tier 1 Solar Energy Facilities (roof-mounted or ground-mounted up to 1/2 acre in size), are permitted by right with a building permit in all zones. Accessory Utilities, including Tier 2 Solar Energy Systems (ground-mounted, less than 15% of parcel size up to 5 acres), are permitted with an Administrative Use Permit in most zones. Intermediate Utilities, including Tier 3 Solar Energy Systems (ground-mounted, less than 30% of parcel size up to 20 acres, with 50% or more power used on-site), are permitted with a Minor Use Permit in most zones. Major Utilities, including Tier 4 Solar Energy Systems (ground-mounted, power delivered off-site), are permitted with a Conditional Use Permit in most zones.

Tier 3 and Tier 4 solar energy systems are limited in Agricultural zones to non-farming lands; if adjacent to an agricultural zone, applicants must acknowledge the county's Right to Farm ordinance and record a Right to Farm Notice on their parcel. In designated Scenic Areas, solar energy systems must be shielded from public view to the maximum extent possible (§24-157).

Parking lots that incorporate solar panels into the design are eligible for reduced parking lot landscaping requirements with Minor Use Permit approval (§24-95.B.6.i).

Butte, CA

2010 Population: 220,000

2010 Population Density: 134.44/square mile