Burien Homeowners, Ecology At Odds Over Shoreline Buffers At Hearing
by Ralph Nichols
It didn’t take long for homeowners along Burien’s marine shoreline to have their concerns confirmed at a Dec. 8 public hearing by the Department of Ecology on the city’s recently updated Shoreline Master Program (SMP).
Ecology is “having trouble embracing” the 20-foot buffer adopted by the city council for the developed residential reaches along Burien’s Puget Sound waterfront, said Bob Fritzen of the agency’s Bellingham office.
“Obviously we do have concerns” and more information is needed about why the council retained the current 20-foot buffer in its revised SMP, Fritzen said.
Ecology wants more documentation explaining why council members reduced a proposed 50-foot buffer back to the existing 20 feet, and also rejected a proposed additional 15-foot setback.
During public testimony, Michael Noakes, president of the Burien Marine Homeowners Association, summarized a detailed new report – a setback evaluation of the marine shoreline – which he described as a “painstaking review of all 291 shoreline residential properties.”
This study “will verify no net loss while providing homeowner protection,” Noakes testified. No net loss of shoreline ecological function is the standard the Legislature requires for establishing shoreline regulations.
All Puget Sound waterfront homeowners speaking at the hearing urged Ecology to recognize the unique circumstances of this developed shoreline and to retain the 20-foot buffer adopted by the city council.
Lake Burien homeowners called for changes in the document to increase protection of the fragile ecology of the lake and adjacent wetlands, at to insure no net loss in the future.
A full report on this public hearing will be posted on the B-Town Blog sometime Thursday afternoon (Dec. 9), so be sure to check back then.