USA: Ecology Approves Fife’s Shoreline Master Program

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Ecology Approves Fife’s Shoreline Master Program

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has approved Fife’s updated shoreline master program.

Fife’s shoreline program will result in significant improvements in the protection, use, development and restoration of approximately five miles of shorelines and the water quality of the Puyallup River and Hylebos Creek in the city and its urban growth areas.

Fife is one of nearly 70 local governments that have completed their updates. The updated master program combines local plans for future shoreline development and preservation with new shoreline development ordinances and related permitting requirements.

Sally Toteff, Ecology’s Southwest Regional Director, said: “Fife’s effort to help protect the economic and environmental health of our waters now and for future generations is an important one. Their shoreline master program also helps support the broader initiative to protect and restore Puget Sound. By working together, we are protecting the treasured shoreline resources that make Washington a great place to live. I commend Fife for their success in this effort.”

About 195 cities and counties statewide are in the process of, or soon will be updating or crafting, their master programs under the state’s 1972 voter-approved Shoreline Management Act.

Shoreline master programs are the cornerstone of the act. The law requires cities and counties with regulated shorelines to develop and periodically update their locally-tailored programs to help minimize environmental damage to shoreline areas, reserve appropriate areas for water-oriented uses, and protect the public’s right to public lands and waters.

The city’s process brought diverse local interests to the table to work collaboratively. Interested groups included waterfront property owners, city residents, scientists, non-profit organizations, tribal government representatives, and state and local resource agency staff.

Toteff said: “The city’s collaborative approach to this plan update led to a program that strikes a good balance. Shoreline master programs are complex and can be time consuming to develop because they merge goals calling for both utilization and protection of shoreline areas, which brings the potential for conflict. I commend the city for completing this challenging, complex and time-consuming process.”

Fife Mayor Rob Cerqui said: “We are extremely pleased and grateful that our citizens and businesses have participated in our achieving the approval of our Shoreline Master Program for the city of Fife. Through this collaborative process our city will continue to protect our valuable shoreline resource and is sensitive to private property rights for our future generations.”

Fife’s shoreline master program:

– Provides shoreline regulations that are integrated with the city’s growth management planning and zoning, floodplain management and critical areas ordinances as part of a unified development code.

– Establishes protective setbacks of 50 to 100 feet with the flexibility to reduce the setbacks based on individual property circumstances.

– Pre-designates shorelines within the city’s urban growth areas.

– Recognizes the importance of the Puyallup River levee.

– Includes a restoration plan showing where and how voluntary improvements in water and upland areas can enhance the local shoreline environment.

Under state law, the local shoreline plan must be approved by Ecology before taking effect. It then becomes part of the state shoreline master program. If needed, the department will help defend Fife’s shoreline program against legal challenges.

All of Washington’s cities and counties with regulated shorelines must update their programs by December 2014.

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Press Release, March 27, 2013

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