Ecology OKs Bothell’s Shoreline Master Program (USA)
The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has approved the city of Bothell’s shoreline master program.
Bothell’s shoreline program will result in significant improvements in the protection, use, development and restoration of more than 13 miles of shorelines and the water quality of the Sammamish River and North Creek in Bothell, and Swamp Creek, if annexed into the city.
The updated master program combines local plans for future shoreline development and preservation with new shoreline development ordinances and related permitting requirements.
Bothell Mayor Mark Lamb said, “Our citizens, waterfront property owners, business owners, and shorelines advisory board collaborated to create a Shorelines Master Program that reflects Bothell’s existing conditions, recognizes future opportunities, achieves no net loss of ecological conditions, incentivizes private development to restore and enhance shoreline areas and ensures that future generations will continue to enjoy Bothell’s shorelines.”
About 200 cities and counties statewide are in the process or soon will be updating or crafting their master programs, under the state’s 1972 voter-approved Shoreline Management Act.
Shoreline master programs are the cornerstone of the act. The law 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.
“Bothell’s updated shoreline program helps protect the economic and environmental health of our waters in King and Snohomish counties, including Puget Sound. By working together, we’re keeping local beaches and stream banks from further erosion, increasing flood protection and protecting critical habitat and fish and wildlife,” said Geoff Tallent, regional supervisor for Ecology’s shorelines and environmental assessment program.
Bothell’s process brought diverse local interests to the table to work collaboratively. The shoreline master program process began with a thorough inventory of existing land-use patterns and environmental conditions and completed with consultant support. These groups included waterfront property owners, scientists, non-profit organizations, tribal government representatives, agricultural interests, and state and local resource agency staff.
Key features of Bothell’s updated program include:
– Updates the city’s existing shoreline master program and integrates recent amendments to the city’s comprehensive plan, development requirements, and critical area regulations.
– Provides shoreline regulations in one stop by integrating Bothell’s growth management planning and zoning, floodplain management and critical areas ordinances.
– Improves protection of habitat and water quality through regulations that apply to 100 percent of the shoreline properties in Bothell along the Sammamish River, North Creek and will apply to Swamp Creek shorelines, if annexed in the future into Bothell.
– Requires vegetation buffers of 100 to 150 feet, and structures must be 15 feet from the buffer edge.
– Adds a requirement to use grated decking on docks and reduces the width and length of new recreational floats, boat docks and piers to improve salmon survival.
– Limits construction of new shoreline armoring and requires the use of soft-bank erosion control methods except in limited circumstances.
– Includes a shoreline restoration plan showing where and how voluntary improvements in water and upland areas can enhance the local shoreline environment.
– Helps support the broader Puget Sound initiative to protect and restore the Sound.
Under state law, the local shoreline program must receive approval from Ecology before taking effect. It then becomes part of the state shoreline master program. The department will help defend the city’s shoreline program against legal challenges.
All of Washington’s cities and counties with regulated shorelines must update their programs by December 2014.
Press Release, February 13, 2013