What is Land Use Planning?

The goal of land use planning is to ensure that a community’s quality of life, economic vitality, infrastructure, public safety and environmental health are protected and enhanced through time.

The land use planning process considers four major functions:

  1. Impact of the geographical location of socio-economic activities, such as agriculture, housing, industry, recreation, and commerce.
  2. Human behavior patterns socio-economic activities create and their affect on the landscape.
  3. Special areas of spiritual, ecological, or cultural importance.
  4. Development of land use plans, policies and codes that direct the nature of development activities.

Planning for a community’s future and adoption/enforcement of administrative tools to implement such plans can:

  1. Minimize conflicts between activities generated on adjoining properties,
  2. Direct the development of appropriate infrastructure as development occurs to assure the built environment can accommodate pedestrian/vehicular traffic flows.
  3. Protect natural environments and areas of cultural significance.

The above are but a few examples of potential issues and conflicts that Land Use Planning addresses.

State and Local Role in PlanningThe State of Idaho enables local communities to plan through the Idaho Local Land Use Planning Act (ILLUPA).  ILLUPA was adopted in 1975 and has been subject to piecemeal amendment with minor “once-over” in 2000 (Idaho Code §67-6503). Every city and county must participate in carrying out the planning guidelines as set forth in ILLUPA, though there are no express sanctions in the legislation for failure to comply.

Through ILLUPA, the State provides a platform enabling local planning without direct state involvement in a local community’s development and implementation of plans, thus allowing local planning to be what a community makes of it.  Through development and maintenance of a Comprehensive Plan (Plan) each community sets forth a vision for future growth and pattern of development.  Administrative tools (zoning, and subdivision ordinances, etc.) and various plans addressing specific components of the community (transportation, parks, trails and pathways, etc) are then developed reflecting the vision, goals and policies as set forth in the Plan.

The amount and level of administrative regulation is dependent on what each community finds acceptable. The more public involvement in the process of developing/amending the Plan and subsequent administrative policies/ordinances the more likely it will result in a local planning structure best reflecting the community as a whole.