USA: Ecology OKs Mountlake Terrace Shoreline Program

The Washington Department of Ecology has approved the City of Mountlake Terrace’s updated shoreline master program.

“It is important for us to adopt this plan. It will protect the shoreline of Mountlake Terrace and provides clear direction on how to use the shoreline in ways that will be good for the environment and good for the community,” said council member Bryan Wahl.

Mountlake Terrace’s shoreline program will result in significant improvements in the protection, use, development and restoration of 1.2 miles of Lake Ballinger shoreline. The city’s Shoreline Master Program update proposes shoreline environment designations, buffers and setbacks tailored to reflect existing land uses and ecological conditions. It combines local plans for future development and preservation with new development ordinances and related permitting requirements.

The Mountlake Terrace city council adopted the updated plan and implementing regulations, following a public hearing on Nov. 4, 2013.

Mountlake Terrace has taken a major step for Lake Ballinger as both an environmental resource and esthetic community centerpiece. Working with the various interests involved, the city’s program protects these shorelines now and for future generations,” said Erik Stockdale, Ecology’s regional shoreline program manager.

Cities and counties statewide are in the process of, or soon will be, updating or developing 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.

Mountlake Terrace brought diverse local interests to the table to work collaboratively. These groups include waterfront property owners, biologists, and state and local resource agency staff.

The shoreline master program process began with a thorough inventory, completed with consultant support under an Ecology grant, of existing land-use patterns and environmental conditions.

Mountlake Terrace’s shoreline master program:

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

– Establishes appropriate shoreline environment designations that recognize established shoreline uses and existing intact shoreline habitat.

– Recognizes the preservation of existing wetland vegetation within shorelines designated as “urban conservancy shoreline environment.”

– Encourages soft-bank erosion control methods and limits construction of new shoreline armoring.

– Includes a restoration plan showing 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, a local shoreline program must receive Ecology approval before taking effect. It then becomes part of the state shoreline master program. The department will help defend Mountlake Terrace’s shoreline program against legal challenges.

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, November 21, 2013

 

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