Rural Living

Living in Rural Douglas County - Protecting rural values through good design, resource conservation, and planning ahead.

Douglas County provides unique opportunities for its residents to enjoy elements of a rural lifestyle while remaining in reasonable proximity to jobs, shopping, and a variety of activities and uses found in its urban and suburban communities.  However, there can be several challenges associated with the rural lifestyle as well.  The information provided on this web page includes need-to-know information on roads, water and sewer, land and animal management, permitted uses and activities, and other issues that are commonly encountered by rural residents.  In addition, this resource includes rural design guidelines to suggest ways in which land owners can use their properties to enhance the special character of the Douglas County rural environment.

Within each topical section, key formation is summarized and links provided to other County departments, agencies, and information packets:

Rural Topical Sections

What is “Rural”? 
This section identifies important characteristics and values of the County’s rural communities and provides a link to the 2030 Comprehensive Master Plan which contains the goals, policies, objectives, and mapped information for specific County rural subareas.

What to Consider Before You Purchase or Build 
This section provides a brief overview of the kinds of information a prospective rural property owner should obtain when considering the purchase of property and building a home in rural Douglas County: legal parcel status, adequate site access, private covenants and restrictions, water rights, allowable uses, and others.

This page provides a summary of access considerations for rural property owners to consider including the need to ensure legal and physical access to a property, driveway permitting requirements through Douglas County, and possible limitations for emergency service vehicles and school buses.
Water is a priority topic for all of Douglas County, but can be particularly critical for rural areas where homes are served by individual groundwater wells. This topic is discussed at length and links are provided to the State Division of Water Resources and Rural Water Authority. Information and links pertaining to the use of individual sewage disposal systems (septic systems) is also provided here. Limitations on the availability of other kinds of utilities is discussed.
Rural Douglas County provides a variety of natural settings that are highly valued by its residents and larger community. However, living in forested areas and other environmental settings can pose challenges of which a rural homeowner should be aware. This section discusses issues relative to wildfire and flooding hazards, living with wildlife, and weather considerations. Links are also provided to information on the types of land disturbance activities that require a County grading permit.

Land Management: Animals, Overgrazing, Manure and Weeds
Managing a rural property, with or without the keeping of animals, can be challenging for large and small-acreage owners alike. This section emphasizes the importance of appropriately managing a rural property, particularly when horses, cattle, or other livestock are present. Links to agencies which can provide assistance and expertise in these matters are included, along with important regulatory limits on the number and type of animals, devegetation, and weeds. Agricultural tax status information is also linked in this section.

Rural Lifestyle Expectations: Rights, Responsibilities, and Potential Conflicts
While living in rural areas is often valued for its peace and quiet, there are many permitted uses and activities that can result in noise and other impacts. Part of the rural lifestyle is enjoying a variety of recreational and agricultural opportunities afforded by zoning and larger parcel sizes. This section highlights some of the potential conflicts that arise from differing lifestyle expectations and the rights and responsibilities that come with being a “good rural neighbor”. Understanding the planning and zoning context is important in order to assess possible land use changes as well as the kinds of additional uses that are allowed in the different rural zone districts. A link is also provided to general information regarding mineral, oil and gas development.
Site Planning and Design
Ensuring that your home and other improvements on your land are compatible with the rural context and natural environment is an important aspect of being a good neighbor and community member. This web page discusses design consideration when building a home and siting other improvements including architecture, building placement, driveway location, the use of materials and colors, exterior lighting, landscaping, and fencing.
Rural Property Owners Checklist
As a resident of rural Douglas County, this checklist serves as a quick reminder of important land use and property management items. Phone numbers of key regulatory and advisory agencies is also provided.