An Initial Study is a preliminary analysis of a project intended to:
- Serve as an informational document to be used by the public and by decision-makers when making choices about projects;
- Determine whether a project has the potential to cause significant environmental impacts;
- Decide whether an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is required;
- Ensure that all potential areas of environmental impact are identified;
- Identify possible appropriate mitigation measures; and
- Assist in the preparation of an EIR by identifying the environmental impacts upon which an EIR should focus.
An Initial Study is used to make a determination if potentially significant impacts would occur. If there are significant impacts, the Initial Study identifies mitigation measures to reduce impacts to less than significant levels. In Nevada County, an Initial Study consists of a written report that addresses such issues as land use, access/circulation, traffic generation, drainage, air quality, noise, biological resources, impacts to trees, cultural resources, provision of public services, etc. An Initial Study Checklist is part of the staff report and provides a summary of potential environmental impacts in each area analyzed.