Ecology OKs Milton’s Shoreline Master Program (USA)
The Washington Department of Ecology has approved the city of Milton’s updated shoreline master program.
Milton’s shoreline program will guide development and use along some 1.5 miles of shoreline on Surprise Lake and Hylebos Creek, which drains to Commencement Bay. The program will result in significant improvements in water quality as well as improved protection and restoration of the shorelines.
Milton is one of nearly 60 local governments that have completed their updates. The new master program combines local plans for future shoreline development and preservation with new shoreline development ordinances and related permitting requirements.
Paula Ehlers, Southwest Region shorelands program manager, said: “Our shorelines help make Washington a great place to live and are an important part of our quality of life. Updating the master program is a major accomplishment for the city of Milton. The updated program reflects a two-plus year effort by the Planning Commission, starting with learning new aspects of state law and ending with rules and policies that are tailored to the local conditions along Surprise Lake and Hylebos Creek. The end product is a program that reflects Milton’s community priorities and needs and meets the requirements of the Shoreline Management Act.”
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.
The city’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 include waterfront property owners, tribal government representatives, and state and local resource agency staff.
“By working together, we are protecting the area’s treasured shoreline resources for ourselves as well as our children and future generations,” Ehlers said.
Milton’s shoreline master program:
– Integrates existing regulations for critical areas – including wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat, streams and riparian areas, and geologically hazardous areas – into the master program.
– Limits uses that are allowed over water to help protect the public’s use of public waterways, and limits the size of new structures built over water such as docks and piers. The maximum length for new residential docks and piers is 50 feet.
– Encourages commercial businesses along Hylebos Creek to restore the creek shoreline in exchange for placing buildings and other structures closer to the creek.
– Encourages soft-bank erosion control methods, such as incorporating native vegetation into design standards and alternatives to bulkheads like beach enhancement in low erosion and wave areas.
– Increases protection of near-shore habitats and encourages habitat-friendly shoreline protection measures.
– Limits construction of new shoreline armoring, or structures like bulkheads that harden shorelines.
– Includes a restoration plan showing where and how voluntary improvements in water and upland areas can enhance the local shoreline environment.
– Gives priority to conservation and enhancement of native shoreline vegetation.
– Helps support the broader initiative to protect and restore Puget Sound.
Under state law, the local shoreline program must receive approval from Ecology before taking effect.
Press Release, January 9, 2013