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Title: 22 - Environment

Chapter: 04 - Environmental Guidelines and Procedures

Section: 90 - Procedures

  1. Prior to Formal Application. Persons who wish to pursue any project which may come under the jurisdiction of the lead agency may discuss the potential requirements for environmental evaluation and review with the planning department. The department will assist all such persons in reviewing county and state guidelines.
    1. Applications. As part of the initial application, the project proponent shall submit as part of the application a completed information sheet and an initial study information form. These forms are to be supplied by the planning department.

C. Environmental Review Committee.

  1. The county shall require the most expedient form of environmental document sufficient to serve as an informational document in the decision making process. Any project which does not qualify under Section 19.04.070 of this chapter will be reviewed by ERC and a recommendation shall be forwarded to the lead agency on the proper environmental document required. The ERC may also review exempt projects and activities for conformance to Section 19.04.070.
  2. The ERC shall review an application by a project sponsor at its next regular meeting after submission of the application to the planning department. An application is not complete until all information sufficient for the ERC to make a recommendation is submitted.
  3. The environmental checklist initial study shall be used by the ERC to aid in determining what level of environmental document is to be required. If an EIR is required, the checklist shall serve to focus the EIR on the relevant issues. The checklist may also be used by the ERC to be addressed by the applicant in the form of an expanded initial study when additional information is required prior to acting on a recommendation for an environmental document. Expanded initial studies shall be reviewed by the ERC for their adequacy prior to action by the ERC on the environmental document.
    1. The ERC shall forward to the lead agency and the applicant, in the form of summary minutes, its recommendation to the lead agency.

D. Negative Declaration. A negative declaration shall be recommended to the lead agency for a project which could potentially have a significant effect on the environment but which ERC determines on the basis of an initial study will not have a significant effect on the environment.

1. If the ERC determines that the project qualifies for a negative declaration, the ERC shall prepare a recommendation for negative declaration on a form on file in the planning department.

  1. A copy of the completed recommendation for a negative declaration shall be filed with the clerk of the board, posted in the courthouse, posted in the public works building and a legal notice advertised in a newspaper of general circulation not less than ten days before action by the lead agency on the environmental document and a decision on the project.
  2. Any comments received regarding the negative declaration prior to action by the lead agency shall be summarized and responded to and submitted to the decision making body prior to its action.
  3. Following a decision on the project, a notice of determination (form on file in the planning department) shall be filed with the county clerk and a copy retained in the appropriate file.
  4. Decision to Prepare an EIR. The preparation of an EIR shall be recommended to the lead agency when the ERC determines that it can be fairly argued on the basis of its review that the project may have a significant effect on the environment or there may be serious public controversy concerning the environmental effects of the project. If the lead agency agrees that the project may have a significant effect on the environment or feels that public controversy warrants an EIR, the lead agency shall prepare or cause to be prepared, a draft EIR.
  5. EIR Process. When the lead agency decides that an EIR will be required for a project the following procedures shall be followed (more detail is supplied in Section 15085 of the state guidelines):
    1. After determining that an EIR will be prepared, the lead agency shall send a notice of preparation (a form on file in the planning department) to each responsible agency. This notice shall provide each agency an opportunity to comment during the EIR preparation.
    2. Upon completion of the draft EIR, a notice of completion shall be filed with the state secretary for the resources agency (a form on file in the planning department). Where a notice is required to be sent to the state clearinghouse, no form is required for the resources agency. The notice of completion shall be forwarded to all organizations and individuals who have previously requested such notice and shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the affected area of the project.

3.  Upon completion of a draft EIR, the EIR shall be reviewed by the planning department and the ERC for major errors and completeness. The person or persons who prepared the EIR shall be required to provide any additional information deemed necessary.

4.  At the same time the notice of completion has been published, the draft EIR is released for public review and comment. One copy of the draft EIR shall be placed on file with the county clerk and one copy shall be provided the local library. Copies shall be distributed to all known public agencies having jurisdiction by law or known to be affected by the project. Copies of the draft EIR shall also be made available to any person upon request at cost of reproduction.

5.   A minimum period of thirty days shall be allowed for review and submission of comments by public agencies, individuals and groups. All responses shall be directed to the county planning department.

6.  The review process shall focus on the adequacy of the EIR in discussing possible impacts upon the environment, ways in which adverse effects might be minimized, and the alternatives to the project in light of the intent of the CEQA to provide decision makers with useful information about such factors.

7.  At the end of the review period, a legal notice shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation, describing the project and project area and stating the time and place at which a public hearing will be held by the lead agency to consider the draft EIR. Adjacent property owners shall be mailed a copy of the notice.

8.  The public hearing shall be held by the lead agency at the posted time and place. The planning department shall present a summary of the comments received on the EIR, the responses to those comments and the recommendation of the ERC. The hearing shall concentrate on significant environmental points raised in the review process and their disposition. The lead agency shall discuss and consider the comments received.

9. The draft EIR or its revision, comments received (either verbatim or in summary), a list of persons, organizations and agencies commenting and the responses to comments received, shall constitute the final environmental impact report.

10. If the hearing body of the lead agency finds that the final EIR has been prepared and reviewed in compliance with this title and the CEQA, it shall certify the final EIR as adequate and that it has reviewed and considered the information contained in the EIR prior to action on the project. If this fining cannot be made, the lead agency shall direct the redrafting of the EIR, require the preparation of additional information or addressing of the determined deficiencies and shall direct that the matter be set for a subsequent public hearing.

11. After acting on a project for which an EIR has been prepared, a notice of determination shall be filed with the county clerk (on a form on file in the planning department) and a copy retained in the appropriate file.

12. If the subject project requires discretionary approval from a state agency, the process of preparation for recommendation for negative declaration and EIRs shall be altered as follows:

  1. A total of fifteen copies shall be submitted along with a CA-189 form as supplied by the state to the state clearinghouse for distribution. Comments received from the clearinghouse will be incorporated into the review process and a response prepared.
  2. A copy of the notice of determination shall be filed with the Secretary for the Resources.
  3. The county may opt to submit copies of the environmental document to the responsible agency and deduct that number from those sent to the state clearinghouse.

 

 (Ord. 79-16 § 17.09, 1979.)