Slide 1

Planning Zones to Protect
People Near Pipelines
Chuck Lesniak
City of Austin
Watershed Protection Department
The Issue
The Issue
The PIPA Committee Challenge
Federal law limits the authority of cities to
regulate pipelines
– How do you protect the public and the
– Provide developer flexibility?
– Provide for the needs of transmission pipelines?
– What can a City actually do within it’s authority?
Setbacks vs. planning “zones”
Setbacks considered, but no consensus
within PIPA
Committee settled on planning zones as
recommended best practice
What is a Planning Zone?
Planning Area
An area surrounding a transmission pipeline …
based on characteristics of the pipeline and the
area surrounding the pipeline. … to protect
communities where new development is planned
near transmission pipelines.
A planning area can provide for the application of
additional development regulations, standards, or
guidelines to ensure safety when development
occurs in close proximity to a transmission
What is a Planning Zone?
Consultation Zone
An area extending from each side of a
transmission pipeline, … to describe when a
property developer/owner, … should initiate a
dialogue with a transmission pipeline operator.
How Big?
• Varies depending on the pipeline
and the land under consideration
• Suggested default is 660’ for gas
and 660 - 1,000’ for hazardous
Planning Zone
PIPA Planning Zone Components
• Information - Proposed use, pipeline
characteristics, land characteristics, recorded
• Coordination – Between local gov’t., developer,
pipeline operator
• Conditional land use – Limit certain higher risk
land uses, encourage low risk uses, e.g. parking
lots, trails, WQ ponds etc.
• Design – Site layout, structural features,
structure orientation, emergency access, etc.
• Record – Easements, restrictions
One City’s Approach
Austin’s Ordinance
• Hazardous liquids lines >/= 8” diameter
• Focus on public safety, not protecting structures
– Difficult to evacuate populations (hospitals,
schools, daycare, etc) prohibited within 500’
– No ROW allowed in residential lot < 1 acre
– Buildings within 200’ of ROW must:
 Provide 1-hour evacuation time; and
 Early leak detection system (if commercially
Planning Zone Example
Austin’s Transmission
Austin’s Pipeline
Austin’s Pipeline
Mobile Home Lots

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