FORTY MOST ASKED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Conflicts of Federal Proposal With Land Use Plans on Policies and Controls


23 a. How should an agency handle potential conflicts between a proposal and the objectives of Federal, state or local land use plans, policies and controls for the area concerned? See Section 150.16(c) ?

Answer:

The agency should first inquire of other agencies whether there are any potential conflicts. If there would be immediate conflicts, or if conflicts could arise in the future when the plans are finished (see Question 23(b) below), the EIS must acknowledge and describe the extent of those conflicts. If there are any possibilities of resolving the conflicts, these should be explained as well. The EIS should also evaluate the seriousness of the impact of the proposal on the land use plans and policies, and whether, or how much, the proposal will impair the effectiveness of land use control mechanisms for the area. Comments from officials of the affected area should be solicited early and should be carefully acknowledged and answered in the EIS.

23 b. What constitutes a "land use plan or policy" for purposes of this discussion?

Answer:

The term "land use plans" includes all types of formally adopted documents for land use planning, zoning, and related regulatory requirements. Local general plans are included, even though they are subject to future change. Proposed plans should also be addressed if they have been formally proposed by the appropriate government body in a written form, and are being actively pursued by officials of the jurisdiction. Staged plans, which must go through phases of development such as the Water Resources Council's Level A, B, and C planning process should also be included even though they are incomplete. The term "policies" includes formally adopted statements of land use policy as embodied in laws or regulations.

It also includes proposals for action such as the initiation of a planning process, or a formally adopted policy statement of the local, regional or state executive branch, even if it has not been formally adopted by the local, regional or state legislative body.

23 c. What options are available for the decisionmaker when conflicts with such plans or policies are identified?

Answer:

After identifying any potential land use conflicts, the decisionmaker must weigh the significance of the conflicts among all the other environmental and non-environmental factors that must be considered in reaching a rational and balanced decision. Unless precluded by other law from causing or contributing to any inconsistency with the land use plans, policies or controls, the decisionmaker retains the authority to go forward with the proposal, despite the potential conflict. In the Record of Decision, the decisionmaker must explain what the decision was, how it was made, and what mitigation measures are being imposed to lessen adverse environmental impacts of the proposal, among the other requirements of Section 1505.2. This provision would require the decisionmaker to explain any decision to override land use plans, policies or controls for the area.

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