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 can be a challenge for county planning staffs to administer.
To help address this problem, DLCD reserved a portion of its grant funds for the 2013-2015 and 2015-2017 bienniums to help counties update their farm and forest land zones 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 definitions and review criteria, whether to permit certain uses, how to handle notice and review procedures, and in a few other areas.