Burien City Council Expected To Approve Revised Shoreline Plan Tonight

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by Ralph Nichols

If, as anticipated, the city council adopts an updated Shoreline Master Program (SMP) for Burien tonight (Monday, Sept. 27), its final approval will mark the end of an arduous two-year process.

Council members agreed at their last meeting to place the revised SMP on tonight’s consent calendar. Not everyone likes everything in this draft, but three council members must vote to remove the proposal for further discussion.

Even affirmative council action won’t end the review of Burien’s plan, however. It will then go to the state Department of Ecology, which will evaluate the document, then give it a final thumbs-up or thumbs-down.

Ecology will hold its own public hearing during the second phase of this process. The city council earlier held two public hearings on the draft SMP.

Burien’s lengthy process to revise its SMP originated with the Washington Shoreline Management Act, which voters statewide approved in 1972. It required local governments to write comprehensive plans to regulate development and other activities along both marine and freshwater shorelines.

In 2003, the Legislature mandated that all local SMPs be updated by 2014 – a process involving more than 260 cities, counties and other jurisdiction. To date, only about 30 updated plans have been completed, and reviewed and approved by Ecology.

The Burien Shoreline Advisory Committee spent more than a year developing proposed changes to the city’s SMP, then sent it to the planning commission in January. After three months of review and taking public comment, the commission forwarded its version of the document to the city council.

Council members said on Sept. 13 they wanted to see the draft of a final set of changes before adopting a new SMP. They also wanted all members to be present for the vote. Jack Block Jr. was absent from that meeting.

Michael Noakes, president of the Burien Marine Homeowners Association, which has actively guarded private property rights during this process, later told The B-Town Blog, “At the end of the day, we are pleased with the progress that’s been made. We stand ready to help the council support this document with the [state Department of Ecology].”

If the SMP gets final approval, lawmakers will finally return to a normal flow of city business, which includes a discussion of 2011 legislative priorities on tonight’s agenda – and writing the 2011-12 biennial city budget during the next couple of months.

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