26.0224 Territorial environmental assessments.

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A. Procedures

1. Environmental assessment means a written evaluation to determine whether an action may have a significant adverse impact on the coastal zone.

2. Activities subject to these provisions. The Board shall require an environmental assessment if:

a. any member or members of the Board with permitting or regulatory jurisdiction over the application request(s) an environmental assessment.

b. the Board finds a new or expanded source of pollutants resulting in a potentially dangerous condition having a significant adverse impact on the health, safety, and welfare of the public;

c. the Board finds a significant adverse impact to critical habitat;

d. a project, use or activity is Federally funded;

e. a project, use or activity costs more than $250,000; or

f. a petition signed by not less than twenty-five (25) members of the public is submitted to the Board.

3. Scoping meetings for proposed actions. For land use permit applications subject to this section, a scoping meeting of the Board may be requested by the land use project applicant or by any Board member. Scoping meetings may be held at a regular or special meeting of the Board. Scoping sessions shall be held for the purposes of identifying potential significant adverse impacts to coastal resources which the project may cause and determining whether an environmental assessment will be required for the particular application.

4. Contents of an environmental assessment. Persons proposing actions requiring an environmental assessment shall prepare an environmental assessment of each proposed action and state whether the anticipated impacts constitute a significant adverse impact to coastal resources. An environmental assessment shall contain the following information:

a. title and executive summary;

b. identification, qualifications and credentials of the preparers and those consulted in preparing the assessment;

c. general description of the technical, economic, social, and environmental characteristics of the project, including an operational plan, if applicable, and all applicable drawings, maps and plans necessary to understand the project;

d. summary description of the affected environment, including a vicinity map and site plan;

e. identification and summary of potential adverse impacts to coastal resources;

f. source of funding, if federal monies are being used for the project, and any federal permits needed for which application has been made;

g. determination of whether alternatives or mitigation are feasible; and

h. findings and reasons supporting determination.

5. Determination of significant impact or finding of no significant impact.

a. Board review of an environmental assessment. The applicant shall submit ten (10) copies of the environmental assessment to the Manager for distribution to the Board and public. At a regular or special meeting called by the Board, the Board shall review the environmental assessment and determine whether the proposed project meets the requirements of this chapter. Where necessary, the Board shall instruct the applicant to amend or furnish additional information necessary for the Board to reach a decision of adequacy of the assessment.

b. Determination of significant impact or finding of no significant impact. A determination shall be made by the Board as to whether significant adverse impacts can reasonably

(1) If measures have not been identified that will adequately avoid or mitigate the significant impacts a determination of significant impact shall be issued and a mitigation action plan shall be requested from the applicant.

(2) If no significant impact is found, or if impacts can be adequately avoided or mitigated, a finding of no significant impact shall be issued and considered in determining whether a land use permit should be approved.

c. Decision-making Criteria

(1) In determining whether an action may have a significant impact on coastal resources, the Board shall consider whether, every phase of a proposed action, the expected consequences, both primary and secondary, and the cumulative effects of the action comply with the standards and criteria as provided by this chapter.

(2) In most instances, an action shall receive a determination of significant impact on the environment if the action:

(a) Involves an irrevocable commitment to loss or destruction or alteration of any natural or cultural resource;

(b) Curtails the range of beneficial uses of the environment;

(c) Conflicts with any of the Territory’s long-term environmental policies or goals, statutes. Rules. Amendments, court decisions, or executive orders;

(d) Affects public health or safety;

(e) Adversely affects the economic or social welfare of the community or Territory;

(f) Causes cumulative or secondary impacts that increase costs to the public, such as substantially increasing demands on public facilities;

(g) Involves a substantial degradation of environmental quality;

(h) Is individually limited but cumulatively has considerable effect upon the environment or involves a commitment for larger actions;

(i) Affects a threatened or endangered species or critical habitat;

(j) Detrimentally affects air or water quality or ambient noise levels; or

(k) Affects an environmentally sensitive area such as a floodplain, erosion-prone area, geologically hazardous area (including landslide hazard area), wetland, surface water or ground water, or coastal waters.

d. Documentation of review and decision; public comment and notice. The Board shall document review of an environmental assessment of a proposed action for future reference, and shall make a determination of significant impact or a finding of no significant impact in writing. The actual determination shall be filed with the Manager and notice of availability shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the Territory, soliciting comments from other agencies and the general public. A comment period of thirty (30) days shall follow the date of the first publication of the notice in a paper of general circulation in the Territory and shall be cited in the notice. Associated documents pertaining to this section or written public comments pertaining to these documents shall become public documents in the applicants file.

6. Addressing a determination of significant impact: mitigation action plan.

a. If the Board issues a determination of significant impact, the applicant shall prepare a mitigation action plan in consultation with the jurisdictional agencies that issued the determination of significant impact.

(1) Mitigation action plan means a document that describes the plan for implementing commitments made in an environmental assessment to mitigate adverse environmental impacts associated with a project, use or activity.

(2) Mitigation includes:

(a) Avoiding the impact altogether by not taking a certain action or parts of an action;

(b) minimizing impacts by limiting the degree or magnitude of the action and its implementation;

(c) Rectifying the impact by repairing, rehabilitating or restoring the affected environment;

(d) Reducing or eliminating the impact over time by preservation and maintenance operation during the life of the action; and

(e) Compensating the impact by replacing or providing substitute resources or environments.

(3) Factors that the Board will consider when determining the acceptability of appropriate and practicable mitigation action plan include, but are not limited to:

(a) To be practicable, the mitigation must be available and capable of being achieved, considering costs, existing technology, and logistics in light of overall project purposes;

(b) To the extent appropriate, applicants should consider restoration, creation, replacement, enhancement, or preservation of the area requiring mitigation.

(c) Mitigation that may be appropriate and practicable includes, but is not limited to:

i) reducing the size of the project;

ii) establishing buffer zones to protect coastal resources; and

iii) replacing the loss of costal resources by creating, restoring, and enhancing similar functions and values.

b. The Board shall review the mitigation action plan and determine whether the pan is acceptable and whether a land use permit should be issued.

(1) The record shall describe those mitigation measures to be undertaken which shall make the selected alternative environmentally acceptable.

(2) The Board may discuss preferences among alternatives based on relevant factors including economic and technical considerations and Board agency statutory missions.

c. The period for public review and comment on a mitigation action plan shall commence as of the date the notice of availability is published in a newspaper of general circulation in the Territory and shall continue for a period of thirty (30) days. Written comments to the Manager shall be forwarded to the Board and the applicant.

B. Supplemental statements

1. Change of circumstances. An environmental assessment or mitigation action plan that is accepted with respect to a particular action is qualified by the size, scope, location, and timing of the action. If there is a substantial change in the project or an amended land use permit in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, a supplemental statement shall be prepared and reviewed as provided in this section.

2. Project Notification and Review System determination of applicability.

a. A supplemental statement shall be warranted when:

(1) the scope of an action has been substantially increased,

(2) the intensity of environmental impacts may be increased,

(3) the mitigation action plan originally planned cannot be implemented, or

(4) new circumstances or evidence may result in different or likely increased environmental impacts.

b. The Board shall be responsible for determining whether a supplemental statement is required. This determination will be submitted to the Manager for written notification to the applicant that a supplemental statement shall be required for public review.

3. Contents. The contents of the supplemental statement shall be the same as required for an environmental assessment and a mitigation action plan and may incorporate by reference unchanged material from the same; however, the supplemental statement shall fully document the proposed changes from the original environmental assessment and mitigation action plan, discuss the process followed to address these changes, and discuss the positive and negative aspects of these changes.

4. Procedures. The requirements of consultation, filing public notice distribution, public review, comments and response, and acceptance procedures, shall be the same for the supplemental statement as prescribed for an environmental assessment.

History: Rule 8-80 (Ex. Ord. 03-80); ASCMP Reg. (Ex. Ord. 07-88); Rule 2-97, eff 4 Aug 97.