Zoning, Planning & Building Codes

Washington County Zoning: Balancing Growth with Resource Protection

Zoning - the practice of regulating development in an orderly way that protects the environment and the general welfare of all citizens - has become increasingly important as Washington County's population has grown over the years.

The Washington County, Tennessee Zoning Office was first formed in 1989 for the purpose of regulating zoning in the rural, unincorporated areas of Washington County, Tennessee. Over the years, the office has grown to include: 

  • Flood Plain Management
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • In 2012 the Building Code for Residential Dwellings
  • Planning
  • Stormwater Management

Building Codes

In 2012, Washington County adopted the International Residential Code. The code establishes minimum requirements to safeguard public safety, health and general welfare through affordability, structural strength, means of egress facilities, sanitation, light and ventilation, energy conservation and safety to life and property from fire and other hazards attributed to the built environment. It also provides safety to fire fighters and emergency responders during emergency operations.

Stormwater Management

On January 8, 2013, Washington County was named the first Qualified Local Program for Stormwater Management in the state of Tennessee. The county's staff works using common sense regulations to assist in the proper growth and development for Washington County, Tennessee. On behalf of the Washington County Mayor, Board of County Commissioners and the staff, we look forward to assisting the general public, potential developers and businesses locate to Washington County, Tennessee for a strong and enduring future.


The county's zoning office consists of Planning Director Angie Charles, Building Official Scott Chapman and five employees. Duties are broad, ranging from investigating citizen complaints about ordinance violations to overseeing the permitting and approval process for building projects. Throw in an ever-changing stream of state and federal requirements on stormwater, building codes and other issues, and the result is a busy office where learning never stops.

Balanced Growth

The bottom line is this: Washington County is a growing community with beautiful farms, mountains, rivers and streams. As more people discover its charms, it will continue to grow. The Zoning Office strives to oversee that growth in a balanced way - helping developers and businesses achieve their goals without compromising natural resources or citizens' general welfare. In other words, without jeopardizing the very charms that keep Washington County a great place to live.

Informative Document

View the "legalese" version of the Zoning Office's purpose, straight out of the ordinance (PDF) that established it. You will also find attachments containing the current Zoning Ordinance in its entirety, and the county's subdivision regulations