Jefferson County Buffers

The following article appeared on August 5, 2009 in the Jefferson County edition of the Peninsula Daily News.


Shoreline program updates OK’d

By Jeff Chew
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — After months of review and revision, Jefferson County commissioners accepted the county Planning Commission’s proposed recommendations for updating the county Shoreline Master Program.   The hearing will be in the Superior Courtroom on the fourth floor of the county courthouse, 1820 Jefferson St., Port Townsend.  The hearing will be in the Superior Courtroom on the fourth floor of the county courthouse, 1820 Jefferson St., Port Townsend.

“We struggled one way or another,” Planning Commission Chairman Peter Downey told the county commissioners Monday before the commissioners set a 6 p.m. Sept. 8 public hearing on the latest draft.
Downey added that the planning panel’s volunteer members changed their votes back and forth on difficult and complex issues, including shoreline buffers.

Buffer widths
Downey said the most controversial issue involves buffer widths.

The Planning Commission reduced the marine shore standard buffer to 50 feet along shoreline residential and high-intensity shoreline growth designations.   The panel included provisions to encourage locating structures along no- and low-bank marine shores at an elevation to avoid potential threat of sea level rise because of global climate change.

Having received about 480 written and verbal comments on the proposal, Downey explained that environmental interests and property rights advocates have opposing viewpoints when it comes to shoreline buffers.  “They can’t come to an agreement, I think, as to how they should be,” he said, adding that buffers are generally needed to provide water quality.  “This is probably something you will want to hear more from the public on,” Downey told the county commissioners.

County Department of Community Development staff originally proposed a 150-foot buffer on all marine shorelines.  Conservancy shorelines, which are relatively undeveloped and natural areas, are proposed to have the more stringent 150-foot buffers.   A 100-foot buffer proposed on lakes remains in the proposal.  A 150-foot buffer also remains on streams and rivers in the county.  Property rights advocates called on county leaders to leave alone the existing 30-foot buffers from the high-water mark.  The Planning Commission contends that the 50-foot buffer is adequate for residential shoreline areas or more intensive shoreline uses.

The Planning Commission’s other recommendations to the county commissioners largely support the December 2008 preliminary draft shoreline master program.  Michelle McConnell, associate planner and Shoreline Master Program update project manager with the county Department of Community Development, said the DCD staff would give its final recommendations for the update in about two weeks.   The project schedule has shifted slightly to allow more review time before the next round of public comments.

The county commissioners are expected to conduct the next public comment period on the latest draft starting Aug. 19, ending the period with a public hearing.   The commissioners will consider residents’ comments as they deliberate over the proposal in September.   They are expected to take action in October to forward a locally approved proposal to the state Department of Ecology for the final review and adoption process.  Ecology will also open a comment period and public hearing. Final adoption is anticipated in mid- to late 2010.

Jefferson County is required to update its program in compliance with the state’s 1971 Shoreline Management Act and the 2003 Shoreline Master Program. All jurisdictions in the state must update their shoreline master programs by 2014.

To see the proposal, visit the county’s website.

The document will be posted online with hard copies available at the Department of Community Development, Jefferson County Library in Port Hadlock and the Clallam County Library in Forks.

________

Port Townsend-Jefferson County Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at jeff.chew@peninsuladailynews.com.

 

 

The following article appeared in the August 5, 2009 edition of the Port Townsend and Jefferson County Leader.


Shoreline Master Program heads to BOCC for review
The Jefferson County Planning Commission has finished its work on a proposed update to the county Shoreline Master Program (SMP) and is forwarding it to Jefferson County commissioners today, Monday.

The document will be posted online http://www.co.jefferson.wa.us. Go to the Department of Community Development (DCD) section. Hard copies will be available at the DCD office next to QFC in Port Townsend, Jefferson County Library in Port Hadlock and the Clallam County Library in Forks.

A public hearing is anticipated in early September.  In a press release, Associate Planner Michelle McConnell noted a number of key changes:

Aquaculture – Shellfish operations will require a conditional-use permit when proposed to be adjacent to shoreline residential environmental designation. This is aimed at solving potential use conflicts between shellfish aquaculture and shoreline residential uses. It includes a conditional allowance for net pen operations when potential negative effects are eliminated.

Beach Access Structures – Reduced the regulatory differentiation between public and private structures to be less restrictive.

Boating Facilities – Reduced the regulatory differentiation between public and private structures to be less restrictive.

Critical Areas/Buffers – Reduced the marine shore standard buffer to 50 feet along Shoreline Residential and High Intensity shoreline designations. Included provisions to encourage locating structures along no- and low-bank marine shores at an elevation to avoid potential threat of sea level rise due to global climate change

Industrial/Port Development – Eliminated the regulatory differentiation between new and expansion of existing non-water dependent/related uses to be less restrictive. Eliminated the requirement for project proponents to present alternative designs.

Mineral Extraction & Processing – Redefined ‘mining’ to include mineral extraction and processing. Added prohibition of mineral extraction and processing within river channels. Added a requirement that project proponent must show need for shoreline location.

Non-conforming Structures – Included an allowance for rebuilding after fire/flood damage on existing footprint without the previous 75 percent threshold requirements. Included an allowance for landward enlargement/expansion of non-conforming single family residential without Conditional Use Permit (CUP) or Shoreline Variance, without the previous buffer enhancement requirement, and without the previous footprint percentage thresholds. Included an allowance for enlargement/expansion of any non-conforming structure with a CUP, without any performance criteria.

Permit Requirements – Reduced the number of instances where conditional-use permits are required in lieu of Substantial Development Permit to keep more permit decisions local.

Setbacks/Height – Changed the building setback from the previous 10′ to require 5′ from the edge of the buffer.  The recommendation also addresses concerns about buffer adjustment options, vegetation conservation, shoreline environment designations, forest practices, and shore armoring.

The project schedule has shifted to allow more review time before the next round of public comments.  It is anticipated that county commissioners will take public comment on the current draft version starting Aug. 19 and ending with a public hearing, anticipated for Sept. 8.

For more information or to join the SMP email notification list, contact Michelle McConnell, Associate Planner in DCD, at 379.4484, via e-mail at mmcconnell@co.jefferson.wa.us or visit the County’s Web site
http://www.co.jefferson.wa.us/commdevelopment/ShorelineUpdate_2005-9.htm.

 


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