A. Decision to Prepare an EIR. As soon as the Planning Director or his designee has determined, based on the initial study findings that an EIR is required, he shall notify the applicant in writing.
B. Notice of Preparation – Draft EIR. After determining that an EIR will be required for a project, the Planning Director or his designee shall complete and distribute a notice of preparation. Copies of the notice of preparation shall be sent to each responsible agency, trustee agency, and federal agency involved in approving or funding the project. Said notice shall also be posted in the County Clerk’s Office for 30 days. The notice of preparation shall notify said agencies that the county, as lead agency, will prepare or cause to be prepared an EIR. The notice of preparation shall be in substantially the same form as Appendix I of the guidelines. Within 30 days after receiving the notice of preparation, each responsible agency shall inform the Planning Department of the scope and content of the environmental information related to the responsible agency’s area of responsibility.
C. Cost of EIR Preparation. If the county prepares the EIR it shall submit to the applicant an estimate of the costs of its preparation, including administrative costs to the county, and shall collect from the applicant the amount prior to beginning preparation of the draft EIR.
D. Early Public Consultation/Scoping. Prior to completion of the draft EIR, the Planning Director may consult directly with any person or organization he believes will be concerned with the environmental effects of the project. Any person, including the project applicant, may submit information or comments to the Planning Director to assist in the preparation of the draft EIR.
E. Draft EIR Consultation. Upon completion or receipt of a proposed draft EIR, the Planning Director shall consult with all responsible agencies and such other persons as required by the guidelines. After completing a draft EIR, the Planning Director shall distribute copies of the EIR for review, and consult with and request comments from public agencies having jurisdiction by law, and such persons having special expertise with respect to any environmental impact as the Planning Director may determine.
F. Notice of Completion. A notice of completion of a draft EIR shall be filed with the office of Planning and Research. Said notice of completion shall be noticed in the time and manner provided by Guidelines Section 15087 and Cal. Pub. Res. Code §§ 21092 et seq. Said notice shall be posted in the County Clerk’s Office for 30 days. Copies of the draft EIR shall be placed in the Sierra County Public Library and in the office of the Planning Department.
G. Public Review – Draft EIR. The Planning Director shall provide at least 30 days and not more than 90 days except in unusual situations for public review of a draft EIR. (Guidelines Section 15087.) The time for review shall commence with the day following the day on which copies of the draft EIR are deposited in the mail. Notice of the applicable review period shall be affixed to the EIR. When an EIR is submitted to the state clearinghouse, the review period shall be at least as long as that required by the state clearinghouse for review by state agencies.
H. Statewide, Regional or Areawide Significance. When a project is of statewide, regional or areawide significance according to Guidelines Section 15206, the draft EIR shall be sent to the state clearinghouse.
I. Planning Commission Hearing – Draft EIR. Upon completion of a draft EIR and after notice and public review as required herein, the draft EIR shall be transmitted to the Planning Commission for review and written recommendation to the Board. A public hearing may be conducted, and in such instances, the Planning Director shall give notice of the hearing as required in SCC 20.05.110.
J. Responses to Comments – Draft EIR. Following the completion of the public review period, the Planning Director shall respond in writing to comments on the draft EIR received during the public review period and shall include such responses in the final EIR. The response shall describe the disposition of significant environmental issues raised by the comment.
K. Preparation – Final EIR. Following the public review period and the preparation of responses to comments, the Planning Director shall prepare the final EIR. (Guidelines Section 15132.)
L. Review – Final EIR. The final EIR shall be distributed to responsible agencies. A notice of availability of the final EIR shall be sent to interested persons who submitted oral or written comments on the draft EIR. Copies of the proposed final EIR shall be placed in the Planning Department and other locations selected by the Planning Director.
M. Hearing – Final EIR. The Board of Supervisors or the Planning Commission may conduct a public hearing on the final EIR pursuant to SCC 20.05.120. Said public hearing is limited to new information not contained in the draft EIR. The Board, or Commission, as appropriate, shall approve and certify or disapprove the final EIR, before taking action on the project.
N. Findings – Final EIR.
1. The Board of Supervisors or Commission, as appropriate, shall consider the final EIR and make the following findings prior to taking any action on the project:
a. Certify that the final EIR has been prepared in compliance with CEQA, the guidelines and these guidelines;
b. That the EIR reflects the independent judgment of the county; and
c. The project in its approved form will or will not have a significant effect on the environment.
2. The Board of Supervisors or Commission, as appropriate, shall not approve or carry out a project for which the final EIR identifies one or more significant environmental effects unless it makes one or more of the following findings:
a. Changes or alterations have been required in or incorporated into such project which mitigate or avoid a significant effect on the environment.
b. Such changes or alterations are within the responsibility and jurisdiction of another public agency, and such changes have been adopted by such other agency or can and should be adopted by such other agency.
c. Specific economic, legal, social, technological or other considerations, including considerations for the provision of employment opportunities for highly trained workers, make the mitigation measures or project alternatives identified in the EIR infeasible to implement.
3. The findings and facts supporting such findings shall be stated in writing. If the decision-making body determines that there are significant environmental effects identified in the EIR which are not substantially mitigated, and determines to approve or carry out the project, it shall adopt a statement of overriding considerations.
P. Statement of Overriding Consideration. In cases where the county allows the occurrence of significant effects which are identified in the final EIR, but are not mitigated, the Board or Commission, as appropriate, must adopt a statement of overriding consideration in accordance with Guidelines Section 15093. Such statement shall be included in the record of the project approved and shall be referenced in the notice of determination.
Q. Mitigation Monitoring Plan. A mitigation monitoring plan shall be adopted when required by CEQA.
R. Notice of Determination. After approval of a project for which a final EIR has been adopted, the Planning Director shall file a notice of determination with the County Clerk in accordance with Guidelines Section 15094. Said notice shall be posted in the County Clerk’s Office for 30 days. If the project requires discretionary approvals from a state agency, the notice of determination also shall be filed with the office of Planning and Research.
S. Inadequate Final EIR. If the Board of Supervisors determines that a final EIR is inadequate, then they shall return it to the Planning Director for further processing. (Formerly 38.07)