Environmental Checklist - A developer's guide for Belize - Part 2

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 10, No. 27            July 6, 2000

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People interested in buying and developing land in Belize are subject to many regulations. For this reason, the San Pedro Sun is printing an overview of the checklist one might consider when deciding to develop. The Department of the Environment (DOE) requests all public and private agencies, corporations and individual persons to consider the environmental impacts of a proposed project before making decisions. An environmental checklist asks you to describe some basic information about your proposal. The DOE will use this checklist to determine whether the environmental impacts of your proposal are significant, requiring preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement.

Plants: You are asked to provide information on the types of vegetation found on the site including deciduous and evergreen trees, shrubs, grass, pasture, crop or grain, wet soil plants, or other types of vegetation. You are questioned as to what kind and amount of vegetation will be removed or altered and to list threatened or endangered species known to be on or near the site. You must describe proposed landscaping, use of native plants, or other measures to preserve or enhance vegetation on the site, if any.

    The next part of the checklist asks you to list the Wildlife which have been observed or are known to be on or near the site such as birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish or animals and of these, to list any threatened or endangered species. You are then asked if the site is part of a migration route, and to  explain proposed measures to preserve or enhance wildlife, if any.

    The Energy and Natural Resources part asks what kinds of energy (electric, bottled gas, oil, wood stove, solar)  will be used to meet the completed project's energy needs and whether it will be used for heating, manufacturing, etc. and to generally describe if your project will affect the potential use of solar energy of adjacent properties. You are asked if any kind of energy conservation features are included in the plans and to list other proposed measures to reduce or control energy impacts, if any.

    Environmental Health hazards are the next concern of your proposal, including exposure to toxic chemicals, risk of fire and explosion, spill, or hazardous waste, that could occur as a result. You are asked to describe special emergency services that might be required and proposed measures to reduce or control environmental health hazards, if any. With regards to noise, you are to note what types of noise exist in the area which may affect your project (for example: traffic, equipment operation) and what types and levels of noise would be created by or associated with the project on a short-term or long-term basis (for example: traffic, construction operation). You need to include what hours noise would come from the site and what measures you would use to reduce or control noise impacts.

    As far as Land and Shoreline are concerned, they ask what is the current use of the site and adjacent properties, has it been used for agriculture and to describe any structures on site. They need to know if any structures are to be demolished, the current land use classification and comprehensive plan designation of the site. If it is applicable, note the current shoreline master program designation or if any part of the site has been classified as an "environmentally sensitive" area.  

    The checklist goes on to ask approximately how may people would reside or work on the project, or if applicable, how many people would the completed project displace and if there are any proposed measures to avoid or reduce displacement impacts. It further asks if there are any proposed measures to ensure the proposal is compatible with surrounding land uses and plans.

    The Housing section questions approximately how many units would be provided, whether high, middle, or low-income housing, or approximately how many units in each of these categories, if any, would be eliminated, and if there are proposed measures to reduce or control housing impacts.               

    The DOE also wants to know about the Aesthetics of the proposal including what is the tallest height of any proposed structure(s) not including antennae; the principal exterior building material(s) proposed and views in the immediate vicinity that would be altered or obstructed. They question proposed measures to reduce or control aesthetic impacts, as well as what type of light or glare the proposal might produce; what time of day would it mainly occur and if light or glare from the finished project could be a safety hazard or interfere with views. The checklist asks what existing off-site sources of light or glare may affect your proposal and proposed measures to reduce or control light or glare impacts, if any.

    The next area deals with what designated and informal Recreational opportunities are in the immediate vicinity and if the proposal would displace any existing recreational uses. It asks if there are proposed measures to reduce or control impacts on recreation or if recreational opportunities will be provided by the project or applicant.

    Historical and Cultural questions ask if there are any places or objects listed on, or proposed for, national or local reservation registers known to be on or next to the site. Additionally, you are asked to generally describe any landmarks or evidence of historic, archaeological, scientific or cultural importance known to be on or next to the site and the proposed measures to reduce or control impacts, if any.

    For Transportation, you are requested to identify public streets and highways serving the site, to describe proposed distances of the existing street system and show on site plans, if any. The following questions are then asked: 1) Is the site currently served by public transit and if not, what is the approximate distance to the nearest transit stop? 2) How many parking spaces would the completed project have or how many would the project eliminate? 3) Will the proposal require any new roads or streets, or improvements to existing roads and streets, not including driveways and if so, to generally describe (indicate whether public or private). 4) Will the project use (or occur in the immediate vicinity of) water, rail or air transportation and if so, to generally describe. 5) How many vehicular trips per day would be generated by the completed project and if known, when peak volumes would occur. You are to list proposed measures to reduce or control transportation impacts, if any.  

    The final part features information needed regarding Public Services and Utilities. It asks if the project would result in an increased need for public services (for example: fire protection, police protection, health care, schools, etc., and if so, to generally describe what will be needed. You also need to indicate utilities currently available at the site, for example: electricity, fuel, water, refuse service, telephone, sanitary sewer and septic system. Further needed is a description of the utilities that are proposed, the utility providing the service and the general construction activities on the site or in the immediate vicinity which might be needed.

    Finally, sign the document and trust the DOE to make the right decision based on their motto, "When people put the environment first, development will last."

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