Will Burien’s Shoreline Master Program Timeline Be Extended? Meeting Tonight

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by Ralph Nichols

Burien’s Shoreline Master Program will be in the spotlight again tonight (Tuesday, March 9) when the Planning Commission meets at 7pm to continue working through the details of proposed revisions to the document.

Tonight’s meeting comes in the wake of recent requests by residents of Burien’s affected shoreline areas – Three Tree Point and Lake Burien – that the city council extend the time for planning commission review of public input before sending a final draft to the council.

A petition bearing the signatures of 401 shoreline residents requesting an extension of the review process was submitted by Carol Jacobsen to the city council at its March 1 meeting.

“We’re still confused about what’s going on,” Jacobsen told the council at that time. “We are requesting an extension of time for review of the Shoreline Master Program before the planning commission submits it to the city council.”

She said the shoreline residents want a six-month delay. Here’s a copy of her cover letter from the city’s public record:

Click to see larger image.

But, Mayor Joan McGilton told The B-Town Blog last week, “The timing is up to the planning commission. Let the process move forward [at the planning commission]. The last thing the council needs to do is get involved inappropriately.”

Asked whether council members might consider setting aside the draft revised Shoreline Master Program for a month or two after receiving it from the planning commission, before proceeding with their review of the document, McGilton added, “That’s up to the council” to decide.

She said the council will look to city staff for advice on whether to proceed with their discussion of Shoreline Master Program revisions soon after receiving the draft document, or whether to postpone consideration for a few weeks.

Commenting on the possibility of a time extension, planning commission Chairman Joe Fitzgibbon said, “I think we’re just going to move through the document at the same pace as we are now. When we’re done we’ll forward it on to the council. It’s not going to take six months….

“I think people who saw us at our Feb. 23 meeting see how serious we are … I think at this point we’re doing a good job of taking into account all the ideas and concerns we’ve heard.”

The planning commission stopped receiving public testimony at that meeting, and began the process of working through citizen comments point by point.

Written comment is still being accepted, addressed to either the Burien Planning Commission or Senior City Planner David Johanson, at 400 SW 152nd St., Burien, WA, 98166, or by emailing [email protected].

Although a general time frame for Shoreline Master Program review indicates the planning commission will complete its work by the end of March and forward the draft document to the city council, which then will adopt a final plan by July and submit it to the state Department of Ecology for final approval, Fitzgibbon suggested this is not a strict timetable.

The planning commission is “not trying to guess when we will finish,” he said. “We would like to finish soon, but we will take as long as it takes. We’re not looking at any date and saying, ‘that’s our deadline.’”

Requests for the city council to extend the time for planning commission review of the draft plan were repeated at their March 8 meeting.

Tades Kisielius, an attorney representing the Burien Marine Homeowners Association, urged the city council to add another public hearing to the process or to extend the time for planning commission review, noting that the petition with 400 signatures had made such a request.

There has been “no real substantive discussion … on significant regulations,” he said. These include a 65 foot setback from the average water line, non-conforming structures, and public access.

The homeowners want the planning commission to work out these and other concerns before the plan goes to the city council, Kisielius added.

Shoreline resident Dennis Reed said they wanted the opportunity to review a final planning commission draft that includes all changes before it is sent to the city council.

City Councilwoman Lucy Krakowiak later asked City Manager Mike Martin to direct the planning commission to extend the review process – apparently overlooking the fact that such a request must come from the council and neither staff nor an individual council member.

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