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Nez Perce County Comprehensive Plan


Land Use


The land use element considers existing land uses, agricultural, residential, commercial, and industrial while planning for future growth. All elements of Nez Perce County are influenced by the way land is used. Community character is set, general economic well-being is built, cultural and social amenities are provided, and ease and convenience of transportation are determined-all by what occurs on the building blocks of land parcels fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle to form Nez Perce County.

Nez Perce County is not a static community-the use of land parcels will constantly change. The land use element of the comprehensive plan is intended to guide the use of land in such a manner as to provide for positive growth of the community. This element considers the arrangement, location and appropriate density of land uses, given development trends and anticipated changes. The future land use map graphically represents the community's goals and visions for future development of Nez Perce County (Figure MAP-2).

This chapter of the comprehensive plan is based upon the following objectives:

  • Providing for orderly future growth that maintains Nez Perce County's exceptional quality of life.
  • Respecting the rights and responsibilities of land ownership.
  • Sustaining prime agricultural land that is essential to Nez Perce County's economy and its resident's way of life.
  • Designating sufficient land for Nez Perce County's current and future agricultural, residential, commercial and industrial needs.


The land use patterns, which have developed in Nez Perce County over the years, have related mainly to the natural suitability of the land. Some areas, well suited for growing trees, have been used mainly for timber production. Other large areas, due to steep topography, poor soil and dryness, have low farm potential, and have been used for the ranging of livestock and in recent years (1990 - 1997) large lot residential development. The largest areas, with fairly good soils and mostly rolling topography, are well suited for dryland farming. These areas support a large agrarian economy in Nez Perce County. Prime farmland happens also to be the land best suited for urban and residential development; a fact that often leads to loss of prime farmland.

Historically, the corridors along the Clearwater and Potlatch Rivers, and Lapwai Creek, were the routes of movement and early day settlement. Today only Juliaetta, Kendrick, Lapwai, Culdesac, Lewiston and Peck have survived as incorporated communities in these river corridors. However, the corridors now contain the major highways of the area, as well as important scenic and recreational resources.

Click for Figure 6-1 (Existing Land Coverages) Existing Land Use Figure Map-1
Existing Land Coverages Existing Land Use

Nez Perce County is predominately rural with 97% of its acreage in agricultural, rangeland or forest (Figure 6-1 and Figure MAP-1). Urban type uses such as higher density residential, commercial and industrial occur primarily with the boundaries of the incorporated cities.


The proposed future land use categories for Nez Perce County are shown on the comprehensive plan map - Generalized Future Land Uses, Figure MAP-2. The map designations do not follow specific property lines, yet represent land use associations and patterns. Current zoning may be different from the designated land uses if growth and development has not yet necessitated the change in land use.

Future Land Use Figure Map-2

Future Land Use Map

The land uses depicted by the map are not precise. They represent a long-range vision of community development. The map is a result of extensive input, study, and ideas expressed by the Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) and other county citizens. Although many issues have influenced the arrangement of land uses shown on the map, the significant factors were:

  • Importance of
  • Housing choices
  • Importance of jobs and economic development
  • Growth management


Land not projected for intensive development will be called "rural land". Rural land classifications shall be as follows:

"Agricultural Lands"

What: This category includes agricultural activities and encourages areas of low agricultural productivity to be utilized for non-agricultural uses.

Where: These uses are located throughout Nez Perce County in areas of known agricultural production.

Why: Maintains important agricultural uses, a long-term minimum density of development, and open space.

"Range Lands"

What: This category includes agricultural uses, particularly the production of animal products. Non-agricultural development may be allowed subject to appropriate ordinances, performance standards, and/or discretionary permitting.

Where: Range lands are located throughout the county.

Why: Maintains areas that are considered unsuited for cultivation due to soil conditions and slope for the production of animal products, as open space, for watersheds and as wildlife habitat. Range lands assist in maintaining Nez Perce County's distinctive rural character.

"Forest Lands"

What: This category includes forestry activities and grazing where this use will not unduly interfere with forestry. Low-density non-forest development may be allowed when subject to a discretionary permitting process designed to protect Nez Perce County's forest resources.

Where: Forest lands are located primarily in the mountainous areas in the southern portion of Nez Perce County.

Why: Forest lands contain present and future timber resources essential to the industry and economy of Nez Perce County. These lands should be maintained for the continuing production of timber products.

"Mineral Resource Lands"

What: This category includes the extraction and processing of minerals preferably through a discretionary permitting process. Residential or other development may be permitted when supportive of and/or compatible with the mineral recovery process. Agricultural and range land uses may be carried on except where incompatible with extraction or processing activities.

Where: Mineral resource lands are located in areas of known mineral deposits.

Why: Mineral resources are essential to our way of life and Nez Perce County's economic well being. These areas of known mineral deposits should be protected from land uses that are incompatible with mineral extraction and processing activities.

"River Corridor Lands"

What: The river corridor category includes both agriculture and limited development, preferably, under appropriate performance standards. Different uses may be encouraged in various portions of each river corridor. In some areas agricultural uses, particularly irrigated farming and pasturage should be continued.

Where: The river corridor classification will be applied to the valley bottoms and adjacent slopes along the Snake, Clearwater, and Potlatch Rivers, and along Sweetwater, Lapwai, Cottonwood and Mission Creeks.

Subdivision image

Why: Land use management in these areas generally will aim at protection of river resources. Development in these corridors should be of low average density, although "cluster" (Figure 6-2) and planned unit development will be encouraged


"Transitional Lands"

What: Permits a mixture of low-density residential uses and small farms.

Where: Areas adjacent to the City of Lewiston.

Why: Opportunities will be provided for residential locations near employment, shopping and city services. Assists in maintaining Nez Perce County's "rural character."


Land that is currently used or projected for intensive development is called "urban land". The classifications of urban land will be as follows:

"Industrial Lands"

What: Includes all types of light and heavy industrial uses and commercial uses. Performance standards and discretionary permitting should be established to mitigate industrial and commercial land use impacts upon surrounding land uses and Nez Perce County's natural resources.

Where: Suitable areas adjacent to existing industrial sites provide ample land for expansion. Industrial zoning may be proposed in other areas of the county provided that it is compatible with surrounding land uses and the zoning ordinance subjects industrial uses to specific standards.

Why: Industrial growth must be provided for in order to insure the long-term economic health of Nez Perce County and its communities.

Comments: Industrial areas are typically separated from residential areas; however, business parks, serving as a buffer or transition area, could be developed where industrial areas abut residential areas. It is intended for the zoning ordinance to address potentially conflicting land uses within or adjacent to the industrial comprehensive plan category.

"Commercial Lands"

What: Includes business offices, retail stores, services, etc.

Where: Commercial land use areas are located adjacent to existing concentrated commercial areas. It is also intended that locally beneficial commercial uses be encouraged in all areas where they will be supported by the surrounding land uses. Commercial development along arterial routes ("strip development") should be restricted to businesses catering to the motoring public, and non-highway oriented businesses should be encouraged to use off-highway locations.

Why: The opportunity for commercial activity is an important aspect of our economy.

Comments: These uses should be subject to ordinances and performance standards, as well as discretionary permitting, when the proposed use is potentially incompatible with surrounding land uses. Access control should also be a consideration.

"City Impact Area"

What: Includes rural residential and neighborhood uses.

Where: This classification is located adjacent to incorporated cities and is identical to the boundaries of the city's Area of Impact Agreement if adopted. Where a city has not adopted an Area of Impact Agreement the boundary of this map designation is considered 1 mile from that city's limits.

Why: It is expected that this land will be annexed into the city within the planning period. Zoning, subdivision, and design standards in these areas should be compatible with those of the adjoining city.

Comments: In the case where the adjoining city does not have adopted development ordinances or does not have an Area of City Impact Agreement Nez Perce County should solicit the comment of that city regarding zoning and subdivision permit applications for the development of property within this area.


Goal Statements:

  1. To arrange land uses so that they are orderly, convenient and suitably related to each other and to their natural settings.
  2. To retain a strong agricultural land use base to support the agrarian economy and protect the rural character of Nez Perce County.
  3. To provide for areas for human habitation and commercial activity in ways that will restrain urban sprawl, protect the human and natural environment, and insure adequate support by public facilities.


  1. Nez Perce County should provide opportunities within the unincorporated areas of the County for additional residential, commercial, and industrial development as required to support future growth.
  2. Nez Perce County should protect and preserve special scenic and recreational assets of the County, while ensuring their continued use and enjoyment.
  3. Nez Perce County should guide growth into geographic areas that can provide adequate public services.
  4. Nez Perce County should allow mixed uses where the environment, community and infrastructure will not be adversely affected.
  5. Nez Perce County should maintain for continuing production those lands most capable of yielding good returns of food, fiber, timber or minerals.
  6. Forested areas should be maintained for the continuing production of timber products, and for grazing where this use will not unduly interfere with the forestry activity. Non-forest development within the Forest Lands Comprehensive Plan Map designation should be limited to low-density uses.
  7. Nez Perce should encourage the use of "Planned Unit Development" and "Cluster Subdivision" approaches where residential subdivision is desired, especially along the river corridors, rangelands, and areas with steep slopes.
  8. Nez Perce County should provide protection of rivers while permitting use by the public and low-density development under appropriate >performance standards.
  9. Nez Perce County should establish commercial zones to accommodate existing and most of the projected commercial development, generally within or adjacent to population and/or commercial centers.
  10. Nez Perce County should encourage a balance of land uses to ensure that Nez Perce County remains a desirable, stable and self-sufficient community.
  11. Nez Perce County should require future commercial and industrial land uses to have adequate infrastructure.
  12. Nez Perce County should support the development of home occupations while ensuring that these home businesses do not conflict with neighboring residential uses.


Land Use Strategy Chart


Planning & Building
Office Location
Brammer Building
1225 Idaho Street
Lewiston, ID 83501

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 896
Lewiston, ID 83501



Alison Tompkins

E-mail Alison

Building Official

Kile Allen

E-mail Kile

Senior Customer Service Specialist

Cody Lorentz

E-mail Cody

Planning & Zoning

Commission Chairman

Frank Dillon

Vice Chairman

Shawn Wentworth


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