Planning, Zoning and Environmental Review Tools

Overview

Planning, Zoning and Environmental Review Tools

Local governments can greatly impact community health using tools that are already largely the responsibility of the planning department.  Find out more about planning, zoning and environmental review tools here.

HN Online Guide

The General Plan

The general plan forms the foundation of local land-use planning.  When an agency adopts a general plan, it creates a vision for the foreseeable planning horizon — usually 10 to 20 years — and translates that vision into objectives, goals, policies and implementation programs for the community’s physical development.

HN Online Guide

Other Local Plans

Cities and counties can also adopt community plans for specific neighborhoods or districts where issues of health, physical activity or nutrition are particularly important. Community plans are part of the general plan and allow a city or county to concentrate on the most salient issues, such as health, and develop planning strategies and actions best suited for specific communities. This can avoid the time and expense involved in revising or updating the general plan as a whole.

HN Online Guide

Regional Planning

While land-use planning is primarily a local responsibility, some issues related to land use and development transcend local boundaries. For example, California has established agencies to develop regional plans and programs to address transportation and air quality, two issues integrally related to public health. These agencies are governed by local officials selected by their peers to serve on agency boards.

HN Online Guide

Zoning and Conditional Use Permits

Zoning implements the general plan; it separates a community into districts, or “zones,” that regulate land uses and the intensity of development. A zoning designation is assigned to every legally defined parcel within a zone in the community. A zoning map shows officials and the public the location of the various zones, and the zoning code specifies which uses are permitted in those zones and the standards that apply to each use.

HN Online Guide

Environmental Review and Health Impact Assessments

The environmental review process provides another way for local officials to address health issues when they are considering land-use plans and development proposals. Environmental review is intended to ensure that decision-makers understand and account for a project’s environmental consequences, including its effects on health.

Commands