Burien’s Controversial Shoreline Program Moves Toward Ecology Approval
On Thursday (April 28th), the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) announced that it has approved nearly all parts of Burien’s recently updated (and controversial) Shoreline Master Program, and has requested changes that will enable full approval to follow.
“Burien’s master program provides significant improvements in the protection, development, restoration and water-quality protection of the city’s 5.5 miles of marine and 1.5 miles of Lake Burien shorelines,” reads an Ecology press release. “The update will promote the protection and restoration of shoreline habitat, accommodate historic land use patterns, and provide for public access.”
Here’s more text from Ecology’s release:
Ecology informed the city that the program would need changes in specific areas to meet state Shoreline Management Act (SMA) requirements and guidelines. The guidelines were negotiated in 2003 among business interests, ports, environmental groups, shoreline user groups, cities and counties, Ecology, and the courts. These changes include:
- Requiring a maximum 50-foot buffer with a 15-foot setback for new development on marine shorelines, while allowing a reduced buffer, in some cases, if neighboring homes are closer than that to the shoreline.
- Removing an outright prohibition on watercraft on Lake Burien if public access were to occur.
- Clarification of the types of commercial development allowed in shoreline jurisdiction.
- Keeping a single-family home in “conforming” status, even if it requires a variance to expand on shoreline property.
The city may respond by accepting Ecology’s changes, which would put the shoreline master program into effect. Or, the city may submit alternate changes, which would require Ecology review and approval.
Burien is one of several local governments that have completed their updates. The revised master program combines local plans for future shoreline development and preservation with new shoreline development ordinances and related permitting requirements.
About 230 towns, cities and counties statewide are in the process or soon will be updating their master programs during the next few
years, under the state’s 1972 voter-approved SMA.
Shoreline master programs are a cornerstone of the SMA. It 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.
For more info on Ecology’s review of Burien’s shoreline master program, click here.
More about shoreline master programs here.
The City of Burien’s Shoreline Master Program information is here.
We’ve covered this issue extensively for the last year or so – to read our previous coverage, click here.