I believe dog kennels should be allowed as a conditional use in the Whatcom County “agricultural” zone. The majority of agricultural counties throughout Washington state allow for kennels as conditional uses in their ag zones (I researched this last year when I was still on the County Council).
In Whatcom County’s “rural” zone, the conditional use process to permit specific kennel applications has led to very stringent requirements i.e. costly noise studies upon any neighbor complaint, funded by the kennel owners. If conditionally allowed in the county’s agricultural zone, there may be locations (perhaps not unlike the current Rover Stay Over location) where impacts are deemed to be so minimal that few additional restrictions, if any, would be required.
Lands in the county’s agricultural zone are already protected by “right to farm” ordinances. In a conditional use hearing, hearing examiner will - if deemed necessary - impose requirements upon the business operators to ensure compatibility with agricultural uses.
The amount of Whatcom’s agricultural land - currently about 120,000 acres with 88,000 acres in designated zoning - affected by current and future potential kennel businesses is statistically and practically insignificant.