The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has approved Ruston’s updated shoreline master program.
Ruston’s shoreline program will guide future development along approximately 1,500 feet of Commencement Bay shoreline.
Ruston is one of nearly 90 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.
Paula Ehlers, Ecology shoreline manager for southwest Washington, said: “Ruston’s shoreline master program helps protect the economic and environmental health of Puget Sound. Shorelines like Commencement Bay make Washington a great place to live. By working together, we are protecting treasured shoreline resources for ourselves as well as our children and future generations.”
About 150 cities and counties statewide are in the process of 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.
Ruston’s process brought diverse local interests to the table to work collaboratively. Interested groups included waterfront property owners, city residents, and state and local resource agency staff.
Ruston’s shoreline master program addresses future development and uses along its Commencement Bay waterfront. In addition, Ruston’s program accommodates setbacks and public access provisions. The program also recognizes the importance of protecting the cap covering soils contaminated by the Asarco smelter.
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. The department will help defend Ruston’s shoreline program against legal challenges if the need arises.
All of Washington’s cities and counties with regulated shorelines must update their programs by December 2014. They are following regulations adopted by Ecology in 2003. The regulations resulted from a negotiated settlement among 58 different parties including business interests, ports, environmental groups, shoreline user groups, cities and counties, Ecology and the courts.
Press Release, August 2, 2013