Shoreline Master Program approved

May 01, 2017
The Edmonds Marsh.

Editor's note: Look for more information in Thursday's Edmonds Beacon.

The Washington Department of Ecology has approved Edmonds' Shoreline Master Program (SMP) comprehensive update. An SMP guides construction and development on local shorelines.

Edmonds has six miles of shoreline along Puget Sound, Lake Ballinger and the Edmonds Marsh.

Washington's Shoreline Management Act local governments to adopt SMPs, in which cities, towns and counties may tailor the act's shoreline protections.

SMPs establish environmental designations for different types of shorelines, with buffers and setbacks that protect ecological conditions, taking existing and future shoreline uses into account.

The final two years of the update process focused on protections for the Edmonds Marsh, between the waterfront and downtown. Ecology's approval of the SMP update includes "Option M, adopted earlier this year by the city council. It establishes two approaches for protecting the marsh:

  • No structures may be built within a 110 foot buffer around the marsh and a 15 foot setback from the buffer.
  • A developer may propose an alternate buffer width based on site-specific ecological studies, subject to city council review and approval.

Ecology concluded that option M provides adequate flexibility to recognize the current urbanized condition of the Edmonds Marsh buffer, and is consistent with the shoreline act's intent of the protecting ecological functions and offsetting environmental impacts of future development.

Commercial and brownfield properties border the marsh to the north and south.

"We received a great deal of input throughout this process," said Joe Burcar, Ecology's regional shorelines program supervisor.

"We appreciated the keen interest in the marsh shown by citizens, property owners and the city. Option M reflects the community's strong interest in protecting the marsh while also satisfying state standards."

Edmonds is one of more than 200 local governments completing SMP updates. The city began work on its updated in 2006.

The Edmonds SMP also increases protection of near-shore habitats, maintains public shore access in city parks, and guides development of future public access.

It also incorporates existing regulations for critical areas, including mitigation requirements and wetlands and habitat protection.




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