State approves Sequim plan for shorelines
December 11th, 2013 - 5:21am
(Sequim) -- The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has approved Sequim’s updated shoreline master program.
Sequim’s shoreline program will result in significant improvements in the protection, use, development and restoration about one mile of shorelines and the water quality of Sequim Bay, Washington Harbor and Pitship Marsh. The shoreline area consists of about 145 acres and 44 parcels. Of these, close to 27 percent are vacant parcels.
Sequim is one of nearly 90 local governments that have completed their updates. The new master program combines local plans for future shoreline development and preservation with new shoreline development ordinances and related permitting requirements.
“Sequim’s shoreline master program helps protect the economic and environmental health of our waters including the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound. Shoreline areas like Sequim Bay and Washington Harbor really make our state a great place to live. By working together, we are protecting our treasured shoreline resources for ourselves as well as our children and future generations,” said Paula Ehlers, Ecology shoreline manager for southwest Washington.
About 150 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. The shoreline master program process began with a thorough inventory of existing land-use patterns and environmental conditions. It was completed with help on restoration planning from the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, and also from the Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation.
The city of Sequim’s shoreline master program:
Provides shoreline regulations that are integrated with the Sequim growth management planning and zoning, floodplain management and critical areas ordinances as part of a unified development code.
Limits the length of new residential docks and piers to the minimum necessary, up to 300 feet.
Encourages soft-bank erosion control methods and limits construction of new shoreline armoring such as bulkheads.
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, 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 Sequim’s shoreline program against legal challenges.
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.
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