Ecology Seeks Comments on Seattle Shoreline Program (USA)

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) seeks public comment on Seattle’s recently updated shoreline master program.

The comment period ends on Oct. 4, 2013. Ecology will host a public meeting and hearing on Sept. 11.

The proposed updated shoreline program will guide construction and development along Seattle’s 86 miles of marine, lake and estuarine shorelines. It combines local plans for future development and preservation with new development ordinances and related permitting requirements.

The city’s locally tailored shoreline program is designed to help minimize environmental damage to shoreline areas, reserve appropriate areas for water-oriented uses, and protect the public’s right to public land and waters.

Under Washington’s 1972 voter-approved Shoreline Management Act (SMA), Ecology must review and approve Seattle’s proposed shoreline program before it takes effect. Cities and counties statewide are in the process of, or soon will be, updating or developing their shoreline programs.

The Sept. 11 open house and public hearing will take place in the Bertha Landes Room at Seattle City Hall, 601 Fifth Ave., Seattle. City and Ecology staff will be available to answer questions. The open house will begin at 5:30 p.m. followed by the public hearing at 6:30 p.m.

After the public comment period, Ecology will organize the comments received and forward them to the city for a response. After receiving the response, Ecology may approve the city’s proposed shoreline program as written, reject it or identify specific provisions that need modification to meet the SMA and applicable state regulations.

Once approved by Ecology, Seattle’s shoreline program will become part of the overall state shoreline master program.

Seattle’s proposed master program contains:

– Policies and regulations designed to ensure no net loss of existing shoreline ecological functions;

– Critical areas regulations for managing sensitive areas located within the shoreline district that includes priority freshwater and saltwater habitats;

– Eleven shoreline designations designed to fit Seattle’s varied shorelines;

– Regulations that create a prioritized list of approaches to avoid, reduce or offset a project’s environmental impacts, consistent with “no-net-loss” shoreline management to protect ecological functions;

– Specific regulations for non-water-oriented uses and structures, when they are allowed in the shoreline district, which require ecological restoration to meet goals set by the SMA;

– Standards intended to accommodate water-dependent uses;

– Shoreline buffers, ranging from 15 feet for water-dependent uses to 100 feet in the Conservancy Preservation shoreline designation;

– Regulations to manage shoreline modifications, such as dredging, piers/docks and shoreline stabilization;

– Floating home regulations that continue to allow repair, maintenance and replacement of existing units, but prohibit new ones.

The proposed master program also supports the broader initiative to protect and restore Puget Sound.

Press Release, August 27, 2013

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