Council passes shoreline regulations, sends final plan to state for approval

After years of tinkering, debate and listening to public input, members of the Pierce County Council passed a Shoreline Management Plan at the March 10, 2015, council meeting. Council Chair Dan Roach says he hopes it’s the end of what turned out to be a longer journey than expected.

“Hundreds of citizens were involved in crafting this legislation, which took years to reach this point,” said Roach, whose 1st Council District includes Lake Tapps. “I’m still very concerned about the state imposing onerous restrictions like this on local governments, but I feel we struck a delicate balance between the state mandate and the property rights of private citizens.”

Pierce County has regulated development along rivers, lakes and marine waters for over 40 years. The existing program and development regulations were adopted in the early 1970s. In 2003, the Washington State Legislature established a schedule for all counties and cities to update their programs.

The state Department of Ecology is responsible for administering shoreline management at the state level in partnership with local government. Councilmember Rick Talbert chairs the County Council’s Community Development Committee, which did much of the heavy lifting in creating the plan’s final version.

“It was crucial for us to hear from the people who would be affected by the proposed changes, so we ended up scheduling public meetings around the county both in 2014 and 2015,” said Talbert, who represents the 5th Council District. “The feedback we got at those meetings and in committee hearings was vital in our ongoing conversations with the state, and I really feel the people’s concerns were addressed by this plan.”

Typical examples of development that will be reviewed for compliance with the updated shoreline regulations include residential development and associated accessory uses, docks, piers and floats, bulkheads and retaining walls, boat launching ramps, recreational development, marinas, and aquaculture uses.

The Pierce County Shoreline Management Plan will now be reviewed and hopefully accepted by the state Department of Ecology. To learn more about the plan, visit piercecountywa.org/smp.

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