BAINBRIDGE ISLAND — Bainbridge Island’s shoreline plan update is on its way to the state. The City Council voted 4-3 Wednesday night to send the draft Shoreline Master Program update to the Department of Ecology for review. The council made only minor tweaks to the document following a three-hour public hearing last week.
The split vote underscored the increasingly divisive debate surrounding the plan, which has been under development for more than three years. Councilman Bob Scales, who voted to approve the draft, said he doubts anyone agrees with everything in the plan.
Council members Sarah Blossom, Steve Bonkowski and David Ward voted against passing the draft on for review. Bonkowski said he felt the plan exceeds state guidelines for achieving “no net loss” of ecological function on the shoreline. “There’s nothing in here that, short of letting your house crumble, and letting your yard grow weeds, doesn’t trigger some sort of restoration,” Bonkowski said. “And I think that’s wrong. I think it’s the wrong policy, I don’t think it’s consistent with the law, and that’s why I’m not going to support it.”
Bainbridge is the last Kitsap County jurisdiction to submit a shoreline plan update for review. The plan guides shoreline use and development in accordance with the Shoreline Management Act.
Once it’s transmitted to the state, Ecology staff will review the draft for consistency with state law and suggest revisions. Ecology planner Barbara Nightingale said she expects a 30-day comment period for the Bainbridge plan will be opened by late July. Ecology will also hold a public hearing on Bainbridge sometime during the comment period. Nightingale said Ecology doesn’t always hold hearings for shoreline plan updates but it was deemed necessary for Bainbridge because of the lingering controversy.