BREAKING: Agreement Possible In Standoff Over Burien’s Shoreline Plan

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by Ralph Nichols

A compromise agreement that could end the standoff over Burien’s Shoreline Master Program (SMP) may be in the works.

City Councilman Gordon Shaw asked at the end of the council’s Oct. 3 meeting that a Burien Marine Homeowners Association document be placed on their Oct. 24 meeting agenda.

“I have reason to believe there are some options for a win-win situation for our Shoreline Master Program process,” Shaw told the other council members.

Council members Jack Block Jr. and Gerald Robison supported his request, thus making it so.

The city council adopted an updated SMP in September 2010, which retained a 20-foot setback from the usual high water mark in developed residential areas along Puget Sound.

But the state Department of Ecology, which appeared to favor a 50-foot buffer with an additional 15-foot setback, subsequently rejected this and three provisions in the local plan.

Michael Noakes, president of the homeowners association, told The B-Town Blog after Monday’s meeting that Ecology “was ready to deny Burien’s SMP and begin the rule-making process.”

Such a rule-making process would impose on Burien an SMP preferred by Ecology.

“The BMHA does not believe this would be in Burien’s best interest,” Noakes said. So “we prepared a memo advocating that the city continue negotiating with the Department of Ecology to finish the SMP process, rather than face denial” of Burien’s plan by the agency.

Since the Burien SMP was rejected, representatives of the homeowners association “have continued unofficial discussions” with Ecology,” he continued.

“There is no compromise solution at this time, but we are working toward one. I personally believe that such a solution protects the city from a showdown and is better for Burien and the Department of Ecology than a denial.”

Noakes said the homeowners association is doing the work, not city staff, “but the city will certainly have a role” in the process.

Every city and county in Washington is required by the Legislature to update its SMP.

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