USA: Ecology OKs Shoreline SMP
The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has approved the city of Shoreline’s first shoreline master program (SMP) that will significantly improve the protection, use, development and restoration of about four miles of the city’s Puget Sound shorelines.
“Our community values a sustainable natural environment,” said Rachael Markle, Shoreline’s Director of Planning and Community Development. “The completion of the city’s first shoreline master program is a tangible step toward ensuring the protection of the Puget Sound for generations to come.”
The new program combines local plans for future development and preservation with new shoreline development ordinances and related permitting requirements.
“We greatly appreciate the city’s commitment in developing this program,” said Erik Stockdale, Ecology’s regional shorelines program supervisor. “City staff, elected officials and many other people devoted significant time and energy toward this effort. We believe that this program will ensure long-term protection of shorelines in the city of Shoreline.”
Cities and counties statewide are in the process of, or soon will be, updating or developing their shoreline 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. These 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.
Shoreline’s process brought diverse local interests to the table to work collaboratively. These groups included waterfront property owners, scientists, non-profit organizations, tribal government representatives, and state and local resource agency staff.
The city of Shoreline master program:
– Integrates shoreline regulations with the city’s growth management planning and zoning, floodplain management and critical areas ordinances as part of a unified development code;
– Establishes protective buffers, ranging from 20 to 200 feet, depending on the shoreline classification, with the flexibility to reduce buffers based on individual property circumstances;
– Limits the length of new residential docks and piers to the minimum necessary to prevent moored vessel from grounding;
– Encourages soft-bank erosion control methods and limits construction of new shoreline armoring, such as bulkheads;
– Includes a restoration plan that shows where and how voluntary improvements in water and upland areas can enhance the local shoreline environment;
– Helps support the broader initiative to protect and restore Puget Sound.
Under state law, the local shoreline program takes effect after approval by Ecology. It then becomes part of the state shoreline master program. The department will help defend the city’s program against legal challenges.
Cities and counties are developing or updating their shoreline programs by December 2014, following regulations adopted by Ecology in 2003.
Press Release, August 30, 2013