SEPA checklist guidance, Section B: Land & shoreline use

We provide guidance to help applicants complete the Land & shoreline use section of the SEPA Section B: Environmental elements checklist.

8. Land and Shoreline Use

a. What is the current use of the site and adjacent properties? Will the proposal affect current land uses on nearby or adjacent properties? If so, describe.

Provide information about past, present, and future foreseeable land uses affected by the proposal. Be sure to address:

  • Agricultural uses 
  • Residential uses
  • Commercial uses
  • Community and public services
  • Industrial uses
  • Natural resource uses
  • Recreational activities

b. Has the project site been used as working farmlands or working forest lands? If so, describe. How much agricultural or forest land of long-term commercial significance will be converted to other uses as a result of the proposal, if any? If resource lands have not been designated, how many acres in farmland or forest land tax status will be converted to non-farm or non-forest use?

Agricultural activity can include activity occurring on a farm in connection with the commercial production of farm products such as produce marketed at roadside stands or farmers markets. The pressure to convert agricultural lands to urban and suburban uses is substantial since farmland is usually relatively easy to develop, and small-scale farming is not an easy way to earn a living. Washington farmers face:

  • Loss of traditional advantages like adequate water, low electricity rates, and efficient transportation system.
  • Increasing competition for water, development demands, and increasing costs associated with environmental regulations.
  • Substantial transportation costs.
  • Lack of available low-cost labor.
  • Consolidation of agricultural production into larger farms.

1. Will the proposal affect or be affected by surrounding working farm or forest land normal business operations, such as oversize equipment access, the application of pesticides, tilling, and harvesting? If so, how:

Learn more about the specific challenges facing farms and ways to help. To find out more, contact American Farmland Trust’s Farmland Information Center at 800-370 4879.   
c. Describe any structures on the site:

Describe all structures and include size, number, and past uses.
d. Will any structures be demolished? If so, what?

Structures are not limited to buildings. They include bridges, cell towers, fuel tanks, and pipelines. Describe the size of the structures and method and timing of demolition.  
e. What is the current zoning classification of the site?

Please include the complete name of the existing land-use category for the project as well as any proposed changes to zoning designations. Include the allowable density as well as the classification. Contact the applicable city or county for this information.
f. What is the current comprehensive plan designation of the site?

Include the complete name of the existing land-use designation on the proposed site as well as any proposed changes requiring a comprehensive plan amendment. Contact the applicable city or county for this information.

Additional Resources

g. If applicable, what is the current shoreline master program designation of the site?

Shoreline Master Plans are local land-use policies and regulations designed to manage shoreline use. If the proposed site includes or affects an area within 200 feet of a shoreline of the state, provide the applicable designation.

Additional Resources

h. Has any part of the site been classified as a critical area by the city or county? If so, specify. Indicate if the proposed site has any special protection designation — such as critical area. Other areas designated as protected areas or reserves could also be within or adjacent to the proposed site. Local jurisdictions may designate a "critical area" restriction for development for wetlands, streams and surface water bodies, aquifer recharge areas, frequently-flooded areas, geologic hazards, and fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas.

Additional Resources

i. Approximately how many people would reside or work in the completed project?

For number of workers, provide an estimated range if the exact number is unknown. For the number of residents, the following occupancy rates can be used to calculate the number of people expected to reside within the following types of housing:

  • 2.8 persons per single family residence
  • 1.9 persons per unit in multi-unit housing
  • 2.4 persons per mobile home

j. Approximately how many people would the completed project displace?

  • Describe how people use the current area including how many people live, work, and engage in commerce and recreational activities.
  • Provide information about how the use change will affect people and the use of the proposal.

k. Proposed measures to avoid or reduce displacement impacts, if any:

Reduction of adverse effects includes avoidance, minimizing, and compensation. Please identify proposed mitigation as well as other potential alternatives to reduce the level of displacement impacts associated either directly or indirectly with the proposal.
l. Proposed measures to ensure the proposal is compatible with existing and projected land uses and plans, if any:

Based on the answers to the land-use questions above, describe how (not if) the proposal complies with existing and proposed designations. Beyond those named in section 8 in the checklist, the following are examples of plans and designations that the proponent and agencies may also wish to consider in light of the direct and indirect impacts associated with the proposal.

  • Local subarea plan or overlay zones
  • State designated harbor
  • Air quality nonattainment areas
  • State salmon recovery plans
  • State wildlife plans
  • Watershed management plan
  • Habitat conservation plan
  • Wild and Scenic River designation
  • State or national park, monument, wilderness, wildlife refuge, marine sanctuary, scenic area
  • County weed control plan or county noxious weed list

m. Proposed measures to ensure the proposal is compatible with nearby agricultural and forest lands of long-term commercial significance, if any:

Farmland Preservation Techniques and Sustainable Agriculture Resources: