As statutes and rules affecting exclusive farm use (EFU) and forest zones are periodically amended, counties typically update their land use regulations for consistency with those amendments. When counties do not update their regulations, they are required instead to directly apply statutory and rule requirements. A number of counties have been unable to keep current with these changes, often lacking sufficient staff resources to do so. Yet, because of the complexity of state laws involving EFU and forest zones, the direct application of these changes is also a significant challenge for county planning staffs.
To help address this problem, The Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) has reserved a portion of its grant funds for the 2013-2015 biennium to complete a project to help counties update their farm and forest land protection provisions to be consistent with state regulations. Many of the statutory and rule provisions that apply to EFU and forest zones are specific and prescriptive and, as a result, county land use regulations are very similar in many respects, with some variation reflecting different parts of the state. Counties do have some discretion, however, in certain review criteria, whether to permit certain uses, notice and review procedures, and a few other areas.
Statutory and rule requirements for EFU and forest zones apply uniformly to the state or to large regions of the state, yet county land use regulations must also reflect local needs and choices. Accordingly, this project employs a process for updating county land use regulations that involves a partnership in which DLCD and participating counties will work together in three phases as described in the scope of work below. The three phases will result in the development of several model codes and use of the model codes to update the farm and forest zone sections of several individual county zoning ordinances.