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Conservation Toolkit

U.S. Forest Service | Environment and Natural Resources

Overview of Wyoming Land-Use Planning Laws and County Regulations

Section Outline

Introduction

In general, state and local land use planning follows a template of a comprehensive plan, zoning ordinances, and review of individual developments, including subdivisions. While some places may have neighborhood plans, watershed plans, or other local plans, this discussion focuses on the core land use planning tools: comprehensive plans, zoning ordinances, and subdivision regulations.

A comprehensive plan provides an overall vision and goals for future county development. A comprehensive plan is not regulatory. The plan is legally implemented through ordinances and development codes. A typical zoning ordinance organizes a jurisdiction into districts or zones and defines which uses are allowed in those zones. Common zones include residential, commercial, or industrial zones. In an example of allowed uses, residential uses might be permitted in residential and commercial zones, but some commercial uses may not be allowed in a residential zone. Each zoning district will also have its own standards for lot size, density, lot coverage, building height, number of stories, and setbacks. Subdivision regulations define the process to divide land and include standards for utilities, streets, lot sizes, and a process to record individual lot ownership.

Each county in Wyoming develops its own planning regulations and processes as prescribed by state laws. Each county’s documents will outline the process for providing comment and opportunities for public hearings. The structure and decision-making process varies by location. Typically, county commissions and city councils are the decision-making bodies, with planning and/or zoning commissions acting as a recommending body. In addition, city or county staff handles the day-to-day planning and zoning work.

Given the unique nature of the regulations in each of Wyoming’s 23 counties, public land managers should review local regulations. Regulations for most Wyoming counties are available online. Table 11 provides a summary of each county’s planning and zoning documents and available Web site links to county planning departments.

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