Citizen input needed on Edmonds Shoreline Master Program Update
What is the Shoreline Master Program?
In 1972, Washington adopted its Shoreline Management Act (SMA) by public referendum to prevent the inherent harm in an uncoordinated and piecemeal development of the state's shorelines.
The SMA has three broad policies:
• Encourage water-dependent uses
• Protect shoreline natural resources
• Promote public access
The Washington SMA requires cities to develop and adopt a Shoreline Master Program (SMP), which includes goals, policies, and regulations consistent with state guidelines to protect shorelines.
In 2003, the state issued a comprehensive set of guidelines addressing requirements for local Shoreline Master Programs. Legislation requires that the City of Edmonds update their SMP to be consistent with the changes to the SMA. The Department of Ecology must approve the City’s updated SMP.
How does the SMP relate to other City Plans and Codes?
The Shoreline Master Program has been developed as both a policy plan and a regulatory program. As such, the Shoreline Master Program is a part of and was developed to be consistent with the City of Edmonds Comprehensive Plan and its component elements.
Uses, developments and activities must comply with both the Edmonds Community Development Code and the Shoreline Master Program in all cases. If there is a conflict between the two, the Shoreline Master Program shall prevail.
Uses, developments and activities regulated by the SMP may also be subject to the provisions of the Washington State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) and various other provisions of local, state, and federal law, as may be amended.
Citizens may also want to read up on the Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO), which relates to the SMP.
The City of Edmonds developed a Critical Areas Ordinance that defines buffers and other standards to protect the natural environment.
The Planning Board is discussing the CAO on Wednesday evening, Sept. 25.
What are Shorelines of Statewide Significance?
The regulations of the SMP apply to all shorelines of statewide significance, which includes approximately 5.2 miles of Puget Sound marine shoreline within the city limits of the City of Edmonds.
Lake Ballinger, with a surface area of about 100 acres, also qualifies as a “shoreline of the state.”
Under the SMA, the shoreline area to be regulated under the City’s Shoreline Master Program must also include adjacent “shorelands,” which are defined as the upland area within 200 feet of the ordinary high water mark, as well as any associated wetlands (RCW 90.58.030).
“Associated wetlands,” means those wetlands that are in proximity to and either influence or are influenced by tidal waters or a lake or stream subject to the SMA (WAC 173-22-030 (1))
How does the SMP affect me?
The City is currently in the process of drafting the update to the Shoreline Master Program. The new regulations may affect those properties adjacent to Puget Sound, Edmonds Marsh, and Lake Ballinger, and could affect current and future development plans and potentially require modifications to existing structures. Land use designations could also change.
The current SMP identifies the Edmonds marsh as an associated wetland and not a shoreline. However, the Department of Ecology has recently notified the City, informing them that the portion of the marsh that is tidally influenced must be considered shoreline. That means the shoreline jurisdiction must extend 200 feet beyond the marsh.
The SMP policies and regulations should insure that the overall land use patterns in shoreline areas are compatible with existing shoreline environment designations and will be sensitive to and not degrade habitat and ecological systems and other shoreline resources.
There are currently 12 environmental designations (23.10.105B) including Urban Mixed Use I and Urban Mixed Use II. A third Mixed Use environment called Urban Mixed Use III is being proposed and is under discussion for the update.
The Urban Mixed Use environments have been intensely developed with a mixture of commercial uses, Port facilities, multimodal transit facilities, railroad facilities and limited light industrial uses (ECDC 23.10.105.B.4).
The Urban Mixed Use III designation is considered appropriate for those areas that have been intensely developed and that have no direct access to navigable waters.
It is assigned to areas that are suitable and planned for mixed-use development, including high-intensity, commerce, transportation, recreation and residential development.
The update under consideration would apply this designation to the Harbor Square property, the area south of the Edmonds Marsh, and a few parcels north of Main Street along Sunset Avenue, which are currently zoned Office Residential.
Department of Ecology recommends that the SMP address potential adverse effects of global climate change and sea level rise.
The City is considering the need for Best Available Science updates when any development or redevelopment projects are planned, including the modification of existing structures such as retaining walls, piers, and board walks.
In addition, changes could be made to shore setbacks and low impact development language.
There are many opportunities to share your opinion on the Shoreline Master Program. Your public involvement is needed:
• Offer public comment at City Council meeting Oct. 1, 2013
• Offer comment at City Council Public Hearing (TBA)
• Write letters to City Council before Public Hearing
You can access the SMP link on the City website www.edmondswa.gov as well as read the packet for City Council Agenda dated Oct.1, 2013.