State Department of Ecology scrutinizes proposed shoreline rules
May 29, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
The state Department of Ecology requested input from citizens as officials evaluate the city-developed plans for land along Issaquah Creek and Lake Sammamish.
The updated Shoreline Master Program is designed to guide construction and development for 12 miles along the creek and the lake. The agency is accepting public comments on the proposed rules until June 29.
The proposed rules combine local plans for future development and preservation, plus recent development ordinances and related permitting requirements. The plan is meant to minimize environmental damage to shoreline areas, reserve appropriate areas for water-oriented uses and protect public access to the shoreline.
Once the public comment period ends, Department of Ecology officials could approve the proposed Shoreline Master Program as-is, reject the document or direct city officials to modify specific parts.
Eventually, after the City Council adopts the Shoreline Master Program, the local documents become part of overall state shoreline rules.
The proposal incorporates critical areas regulations to include 100-foot stream buffers and flood hazard guidelines. The document also calls for protection of existing stream shore habitat along Issaquah Creek.
The proposal contains distinct rules for creekside and lakeside development. Planners also included measures to control erosion and limit construction along Lake Sammamish.
In December, City Council members agreed to send a draft Shoreline Master Program to the Department of Ecology for consideration. Officials sought approval from the agency before adopting the shoreline master program.
Department of Ecology officials started scrutinizing the proposed King County Shoreline Master Program in February.
The county plan includes stretches of Issaquah Creek — from the headwaters on Tiger Mountain to the Issaquah city limits — and the mouth of the creek in Lake Sammamish State Park.
The county proposal also includes some Lake Sammamish shoreline. Though Issaquah surrounds Lake Sammamish State Park on all sides, the park is in unincorporated King County, and county rules apply to the lakeshore inside the park.
Statewide, about 230 counties and cities intend to update shoreline plans by December 2014. Local governments must follow regulations outlined in a negotiated settlement among 58 parties, including business interests, ports, environmental groups, shoreline user groups, cities and counties, courts and the Department of Ecology.
Under the state Shoreline Management Act, Department of Ecology officials must review and approve proposed shoreline programs for counties and cities before the plans can take effect.
State legislators passed the Shoreline Management Act in 1971, and the public later adopted the measure in a referendum. The legislation resulted after residents raised concerns about permanent damage to shorelines caused by uncoordinated and unplanned development.
The state Supreme Court upheld the Department of Ecology’s authority to conduct such reviews last year.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.