Bainbridge City Council narrowly passes updated Shoreline Management Program

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND — After 79 meetings and a contentious five-year process, the Bainbridge City Council voted 4-3 Monday to adopt the city’s new Shoreline Master Program update.

One of the program’s chief critics, Gary Tripp, told the City Council that the Bainbridge Defense Fund advocacy group will consider suing the city.

“You’re not absolved from responsibility,” Tripp told the council. “… Good governance is coming up with cooperative solution with the citizens. You have not, the city government, the City Council, the city, have not come to a cooperative solution about the SMP.”

Council members Anne Blair, Roger Townsend, Wayne Roth and Val Tollefson voted for the update and Steve Bonkowski, Sarah Blossom and David Ward voted against it.

Blossom said the council and previous councils could’ve spent more time on what it would take to rebuild a home on an existing footprint. Ward criticized what he called “onerous aquaculture regulations.”

Before the vote, Tollefson acknowledged the plan “is not a perfect document.” Townsend said although he understood the concerns people had about the program, it was “time to move on,” which Roth agreed with.

“I, too, echo the concerns and I’m sorry that we are faced with voting on something that feels like it’s quite imperfect at this point,” Blair said. “However, I do have a lot of confidence in the amount of work that has gone on for five years and the amount of effort and the challenges that have been made and responded to in many, many instances. There have been accommodations.”

After the meeting, Tripp said the council’s vote didn’t make sense.

“You don’t pass a law with the intent that tomorrow you will amend it,” Tripp said. “I don’t think it’s wise to diminish people’s right to use their waterfront property the way they traditionally have, which includes protecting the environment and normal water-dependent use, such as docks, floats and buoys. All we really want is to protect our home, our view and maintain our access to the water. This SMP takes away those.”

At the conclusion of the discussion, Blair distributed several bouquets of sunflowers to people, like Tripp, Ecology’s retiring shoreline planner Barbara Nightingale and interim city attorney Jim Haney, for their “persistence and amazing energy” and for being “deeply involved” over the long period of time with differing perspectives.

As a result of Monday’s vote, the new Bainbridge shoreline program will become law 14 days after the state Department of Ecology receives the document. The current Bainbridge program hadn’t been comprehensively updated since 1996.

Kitsap Sun article By Ethan Fowler

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