Zoning, plan update EIR begins

By From page A1 | October 08, 2012

El Dorado County’s Chief Administrative Office issued a Notice of Preparation Monday that officially announced proposed development of a Draft  Environmental Impact Report. The EIR will address a project for a”Targeted General Plan Amendment and Zoning Ordinance Update.”

The title document includes a “Notice of Public Scoping Meeting” scheduled for Thursday Oct. 25 at the county Planning Commission chambers at 2850 Fairlane Court in Placerville.

By law, the county is required to “request the views of public agencies and interested persons as to the scope and content of the environmental information and analyses, significant environmental impacts, reasonable alternatives and mitigation measures that should be included in the Draft EIR.”

The complete document with proposed changes is available at the Development Services Department, (same address as above), and also on the county’s Website in the section titled Land-Use Policy Programmatic Update.

Five “project objectives” are listed for the TGPA in the notice packet. The first responds to the state’s SB 375 mandate for development of affordable housing. The amendments will address “housing affordable to the moderate income earner” in the county. Other amendments are aimed at job creation and increased sales tax revenues, while several others will be designed to “promote and protect agriculture in the county.”

The fourth and fifth objectives deal with clarifying existing General Plan policies and  creating consistencies related to SB 375.

Objectives for the Zoning Ordinance Update note 13 ranging from “ensure that the ordinance is consistent with applicable state and federal laws” to deleting “obsolete zones.”

Expanding agricultural and rural land uses to broaden the range of commercial activities is listed along with providing “a range of intensities for home occupations, based on size and zoning of parcels, adding the use of accessory structures, customers, and employees.”

Several other objectives are meant to bring zoning issues into greater consistency and conformance with the General Plan and to “reorganize the ordinance for ease of use.”

That objective continues with “including the use of tables to identify permitted uses and development standards, establishing specific use regulations for administrative review of specified uses.”

Under the California Environmental Quality Act guidelines, the county’s Draft EIR will need to analyze a comprehensive set of “potential significant effects.” Based partly on comments from the public during the scoping meetings as well as those sent in to the Development Services Department, the project may also address issues that may not have been included in the preliminary sample set.

In alphabetical order the list of “potentially significant Impacts” identified by county staff includes but is not limited to: Aesthetics, Agriculture Resources, Air Quality, Biological Resources, Cultural Resources, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Land-Use/Planning, Noise, Population/Housing and Transportation/Traffic.

The Notice of Preparation further lists those issues currently considered as likely to be “less than significantly impacted” by the project.

Geology/Soils, Hydrology and Water Quality, Mineral Resources and Recreation are initially identified in that category. The project will not formally address “Public Services, Utilities/Service Systems” as currently proposed. The document, however contains the caveat that the county reserves the right to reach a different determination “upon further analysis.”

Again directed by CEQA regulations, the Draft EIR must include discussion and descriptions of “reasonable alternatives to the project.” That is, an element of the project is to determine how desired outcomes could be achieved without doing the project or instead by altering the proposed project.

The same element requires inclusion of a “No Project Alternative.” That is, an evaluation of the potential consequences of not amending the General Plan nor updating the Zoning Ordinance.

Written comments on the proposed EIR or Notice of Preparation and Notice of Public Scoping Meeting should be sent before the end of October to:

Shawna Purvines, Senior Planner, Development Services Department, Planning Services, 2850 Fairlane Court, Building “C” Placerville, CA 95667 or use the “public comment form” at the department’s Website

Contact Chris Daley at 530-344-5063 or [email protected] Follow @CDaleyMtDemo.

Chris Daley

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