Supreme Court of WA throws out challenge to Jefferson County SMP

On February 7th the Washington state Supreme Court threw out the challenges to the Jefferson County Shoreline Master Program (SMP), by the Olympic Stewardship Foundation. This long running challenge finally ends the attempts to stop the county and Ecology from setting county standards for setbacks and other uses of the nearshore. It should also serve as a warning to others trying to challenge SMPs that it is extremely difficult to stop them from becoming law, after the fact of enactment. Involvement up front is much more useful. Coming to the table to help debate the issues as they are brought up, rather than sit on the sidelines and threaten legal action if your demands are not met, just seems like a losing strategy in this particular situation.

To all the hard working people who volunteered their time to give input and review, and to the County Commissioners who took the stance that the public favored stricter protection over less strict, thank you.

5 counties warned state about salmon-farming back in 2012 – Everett Herald

A good review of the work done in the last ten years fighting net pen salmon. Here in Jefferson County, it was work by the Jefferson County Marine Resources Committee, which voted to recommend supporting the SMP language that would ban net pens in the county, and followed by the support of all three county commissioners, especially now retired Commissioner Phil Johnson.

Not long ago, some of the loudest political voices railing against the danger of farming Atlantic salmon in the waters of Puget Sound came from within chambers of county governments. Back in 2012, leaders of Island, Whatcom, Jefferson, Skagit and San Juan counties — Democrat and Republican — called for a moratorium on such fish farm operations. They also sought authority to include a ban on them in their respective shoreline management plans. They reached out to executives in state agencies as well as former Gov. Chris Gregoire and, later, Gov. Jay Inslee. They lobbied lawmakers and sought backing of tribes in their quest. “While Washington state missteps with outdated science, local governments desiring to recognize modern science, job, and environmental and public threats, ask that they be permitted to ban these open finfish feedlots before they destroy the native species, their habitats, and the jobs we have worked so diligently to protect,” former Island County Commissioner Angie Homola wrote in a six-page issue paper delivered to Inslee in August 2014. Jerry Cornfield reports. (Everett Herald)

Mussels help measure contaminants in Puget Sound – KING

Photos by Al Bergstein of the Jefferson County Marine Resources Committee.

Volunteers will spread out across Puget Sound on Friday night to install cages filled with mussels, which will help scientists track the health of the ecosystem. “They will be zip tied to sides of the cage, and they will sit there suspended above the bottom,” said Puget Soundkeeper Alliance Executive Director Chris Wilke. A top cover keeps predators out, and for 90 days, water will flow through. It allows for scientists to record contaminants over a larger period of time and compare to past results. The mussels are donated by Penn Cove Shellfish and the cage placement is done almost entirely thanks to volunteers. Alison Morrow reports. (KING)

EVENT: Farm Bureau to present on Hirst Decision 4/12 @7PM Chimicum Grange

Al Latham just alerted me that a fellow from the Farm Bureau will be doing a presentation on the Hirst Decision (on building permits and water rights) and current legislative activity around exempt wells at the Chimacum Grange, 7pm Wed April 12.

What is the Hirst Decision? It’s an extremely important new ruling that addresses an ongoing battle over development vs. water rights. Let me copy from the Dept of Ecology web site:

“A recent Washington State Supreme Court decision has changed how counties decide to approve or deny building permits that use wells for a water source.

In the Whatcom County vs. Hirst, Futurewise, et al. decision (often referred to as the Hirst decision), the court ruled that the county failed to comply with the Growth Management Act (GMA) requirements to protect water resources. The ruling requires the county to make an independent decision about legal water availability.


We protect rivers and streams across the state by creating instream flow rules, which set the amount of water necessary for protecting fish, wildlife and recreation. In 1985, we adopted an instream flow rule for the Nooksack River (WAC 173-501) in Whatcom County. This rule closed most streams in the watershed to new water right permits but allowed landowners to use permit-exempt wells in most of the area. Whatcom County’s development regulations followed our instream flow rule.

A reliable, year-round supply of water is necessary for new homes or developments. Before the Oct. 6, 2016, court decision, many counties relied on what the Department of Ecology said about whether year-round water was available. This court decision changes that – counties now have to make their own decisions about whether there is enough water, physically and legally, to approve a building permit that would rely on a well.


The case directly relates to Whatcom County but appears to set legal precedent that applies in other counties where there are instream flow rules that were not intended to regulate permit-exempt water uses. It is unclear how the decision affects areas of the state where there are no instream flow rules. Counties are working to review the decision and what it means for them. Contact your county’s building, planning or health departments if you have questions about how the Hirst decision may affect you.

Key points

  • Science has shown that rivers and streams are generally connected to groundwater. The Washington State Supreme Court said that water is not legally available if a new well would impact a protected river or stream, or an existing senior water right.
  • If your county determines that water is not legally available for your new use, the county would not be able to approve your building permit – even if you have already drilled a well.
  • We are providing technical assistance to counties as they determine their next steps. Our priority will be to provide information about the status of stream closures and instream flows.
  • Anyone with questions about how the decision affects them should contact their county government.


U.S. Supreme Court rejects KAPO appeal -KItsap Sun

Excellent news. And update based on getting more stories out.
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners, which claimed that Kitsap County’s shoreline buffers were unconstitutional. The ruling upholds the Kitsap County Critical Areas Ordinance as rewritten in 2007, including 100-foot buffers for rural shorelines and 50-foot buffers for urban shorelines.

and here’s KAPO’s side of the story.

State Supreme Court affirms Ecology approval authority for shoreline master programs

As assumed, the SMP process is legal. The lawyer that convinced these guys to do take this case forward must have been laughing to the bank. A cursory read of the laws that the SMP is based on clearly shows what the court *unanimously* affirmed. Their argument about tax law shows how little they understood of the process or perhaps that they were willing to pay a lawyer to grasp at straws.

State Supreme Court affirms Ecology approval authority for shoreline master programs

OLYMPIA – The Washington Supreme Court has unanimously affirmed that the state, not local governments, has final approval authority for shoreline management plans and regulations.

The case was brought before the high court by Citizens for Rational Shoreline Planning, Ronald Jepson and the Building Industry Association of Whatcom County against the Department of Ecology (Ecology) and Whatcom County.

The lawsuit was an attempt to broadly invalidate key protections in Whatcom County’s state-approved shoreline planning and development regulations, also called a shoreline master program. Ecology approved the county’s shoreline program in 2008.

The plaintiffs asserted that because Whatcom County had developed its proposed shoreline master program at the local level, final approval of the county’s updated shoreline program was a local decision.

They claimed some of the requirements in Whatcom County’s shoreline program would violate state tax law generally prohibiting local governments from imposing certain taxes or fees in exchange for development rights.

The 1972 voter-approved Shoreline Management Act was passed 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 court’s decision clarifies that the collaborative process Ecology and local governments use to manage our shoreline areas is fair, transparent and flexible,” said Ecology Deputy Director Polly Zehm. “We all have a stake in protecting our treasured shoreline resources for ourselves as well as our children and future generations. Our shorelines make Washington a great place to live.”

Under the law, local governments and Ecology work cooperatively on shoreline master programs.

The Shoreline Management Act gives local governments flexibility to tailor their shoreline programs to help respond to local conditions and needs – while fulfilling the statewide vision for shoreline development, protection and uses.

However, the court’s decision recognizes that under state law Ecology is charged with final review and approval authority to ensure each shoreline master program meets state law.

Ecology must also ensure that state requirements negotiated in 2003 among 58 different parties including business interests, ports, environmental groups, shoreline user groups and local governments are being met.

Once Ecology approves a local shoreline master program, the department will help defend the decision against legal challenges.

The plaintiffs’ case had previously been dismissed by the Skagit County Superior Court which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court decision affirmed the appellate court.

Washington State Supreme Court Denies Challenge to Critical Areas Ordinance buffers

A win for continuing to protect and restore the Sound and Straits.

This was a petition to appeal the CAO buffers. The opposition wanted to overturn the buffers that were put in place by CAO activities.

Interestingly enough, the Puget Sound Partnership did not get involved or file a friend of the court (amicas) brief. It would be thought that the main proponent of saving Puget Sound would take a stand on this.

Here’s the backgrounder from Tim Trohimovich of Futurewise::


As you may remember, the Hood Canal Environmental Council, People For Puget Sound, West Sound Conservation Council, Kitsap Citizens for Responsible Planning, Judith and Irwin Krigsman, and Jim Trainer joined with Futurewise to appeal the Kitsap County critical areas ordinance update in 2006.   While Kitsap County adopted good critical areas regulations in response to the advocacy of all of us, the regulations had two major weaknesses: small wetlands were not protected; and the marine buffers for the Urban, Semi-Rural, and Rural shorelines areas, which cover 68 percent of the county’s Hood Canal and Puget Sound shorelines, were not adequate to protect important marine resources.  Among the species that required buffers wider than 35 foot wide buffers originally adopted for these areas was the threatened Chinook salmon which extensively use marine shorelines.  Our appeal caused the county to protect all wetlands and to increase its marine buffers from 35 feet to 50 and 100 feet.  The Growth Management Hearings Board concluded several years ago that these amendments complied with the Growth Management Act.

The county’s critical areas regulations, and our win, was challenged by a  group, the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners (KAPO).  KAPO lost in superior court, but won in the court of appeals on the claim that a state law required these regulations to be included in shoreline master programs not critical areas regulations.  After legislation clarified this issue, Kitsap County and our organizations won when the court of appeals reheard this case.  KAPO appealed this win to the Washington State Supreme Court.  Yesterday, the supreme court denied KAPO’s petition for review.  This means that the supreme court will not hear KAPO’s appeal and that our court of appeals win is the final word in this case.  Several groups including the Bainbridge Homeowners, Common Sense Alliance, Olympic Stewardship Foundation, Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW), and the so called Freedom Foundation filed briefs in the Washington State Supreme Court urging the court to hear this appeal and overturn our court of appeals win.  The supreme court’s decision not to hear this case terminates KAPO’s appeal.  Since the county has come into compliance, our case is completed too.  A copy of the supreme court order is enclosed.

Kitsap County, after they brought their critical areas ordinance into compliance, was excellent in defending this appeal.  If you have the chance, please thank the Board of County Commissioners and the Prosecuting Attorney.


And this follow up from Christopher Dunagan of the Kitsap Sun..

State Supreme Court rejects KAPO shorelines appeal
OLYMPIA — Washington State Supreme Court has declined to consider a challenge to Kitsap County’s Critical Areas Ordinance — including a requirement for 100-foot buffers along rural shorelines.
Christopher Dunagan 7/18

State Ecology OKs most of Jefferson County shoreline plan – PDN

2/2 Peninsula Daily News
State Ecology OKs most of Jefferson County shoreline plan
By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The state Department of Ecology has issued conditional approval of Jefferson County’s updated shoreline master program — taking issue with the plan’s flexible buffer zones, its ban on net-pen aquaculture and its direction for dock length.

In Tuesday’s announcement, Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant called the county’s work a “landmark effort” affecting more than 500 miles of shorelines.

Ecology’s response to the plan — called an SMP — that commissioners approved in 2009 will be discussed at the next meeting of the three Jefferson County commissioners at 9 a.m. Monday in their chambers at the Jefferson County Courthouse at 1820 Jefferson St., Port Townsend.

More at

See also 2/2 Peninsula Daily News
Clallam County shoreline update draws fears, criticism; commissioner defends efforts

The Leader continues to get it wrong on the SMP

The misinformation on the Jefferson County and City of Port Townsend Shoreline Master Program (SMP) continues to flow. Last week and now this week, Fred Obee seems incapable of going out and reading the document to get his facts straight. Our readers should be aware that there is a political candidate for County Commissioner who has routinely misinformed the public about the actual wording of the County and City SMP, in order to get elected. I have no idea if  the Leader or Mr. Obee are supporting this candidate, but it’s things like this that make us wonder about the impartiality of the Leader.


Michelle McConnel of the County Department of Community Development had this to say:

In yesterday’s editorial, Mr. Obee adequately corrects his mistake from last week, yet publishes another erroneous statement: Buffers inside the city of Port Townsend are 50 feet, but those are handled by different legislation.”

The County has repeatedly clarified that the City of Port Townsend SMP requires shoreline setbacks/buffers that range up to 200’.  It is misleading for anyone to state only the 50’ distance.

The city setbacks/buffers required actually range from 25-feet to 200-feet:  25’ in the Urban, Historic Waterfront, and Boat Haven designated shorelines, 50’ in the Shoreline Residential designated shorelines, and up to 200’ in the Natural and Conservancy designated shorelines… with some exceptions.

Get to the Source

Readers are advised to review the source documents themselves, especially when uncertainty arises.  A public review copy of the Locally Approved SMP is available at the DCD Office, the County Library in Port Hadlock and its Bookmobile, the Forks Library, and online for viewing and download.

What’s happening locally with the environment? Jefferson MRC

Jefferson County Marine Resource Committee will be meeting on Nov. 2nd at 6 to 8 PM at the Maritime Center meeting room. If you are interested in better understanding what is happening on the local front of the Marine environment, and/or you want to get more active in environmental issues around the shoreline, come by to hear a few of the issues. The public is welcome.

At 6:10 Ruth Blyther of the Nature Conservancy will talk about Biological Diversity. Also, committee reports on Marine Stewardship, Olympia Oysters, Eelgrass Protection, Drift Cell Restoration, Mystery Bay Harbor Restoration, and Maynard Beach issues will be discussed.


Large turnout for Jefferson County SMP feedback to DOE

Over 100 people turned out to give feedback to the Department of Ecology on the Shoreline Master Program update. The turnout was largely anti-SMP in their comments, with county officials, SMP volunteers, and some of aquaculture supporting the document. There was much more heat than light, as much of the anger raised was not accurate assessments of the updated regulations, as pointed out by Mr. Morley, the county administrator, who testified. We urge any of you who did not come out tonight, from either side, to participate in this process by writing comments to DOE. Both written and verbal comments will be accepted, comment period closes May 11.  More details at the state’s webpage <> .

Those leading the anti-SMP have been against it from the beginning,  chose not to participate in the program, and for four years have sat on the side and criticized every aspect of the document. They have issued predictions of doom and gloom that is not borne out by the document. A couple of them took the public testimony time alloted to them to announce their candidacies for elected office from the podium, a particularly cynical use of the overflow crowd’s time.

Apparently there was similar “sky is falling” predictions about the last SMP, and the county has survived it, and prospered until this latest economic downturn, which hardly could be blamed on the SMP currently in place. Shoreline property values are still high, overall. In fact, one anti-SMP realtor placed ads to sell their existing lots by siting fear of the SMP. Talk about blatant self interest!

It’s interesting to note, that when looking at property in Jefferson County in 1999, I purposely chose not to live on the water, though I would have loved to. Why? First, it cost more to live there. Secondly, I understood that owning shoreline property brought a special set of rules for protecting it, that would have limited my choices as to what I could do. That was a known issue even 10 years ago, as it was since the 70s, at least. It is not like management of shorelines emerged from Olympia yesterday.

The shorelines of Puget Sound do have property owners, but the property owners do not have unlimited choice in their use of the land. Neither do those of us in Jefferson county in general. There are zoning laws, and rules for noise, pets, etc. I can’t have farm animals on my lot in PT (due to a covenant on the property), as much as I would like to. I can’t drill for oil here, nor can I open up a quarry. While many people tonight expressed the notion that they have the right to do whatever they want with their land, that is simply not true, and hasn’t been for a long while.

Also, there was a statement about why Port Townsend has 50′ buffers while Jefferson County has 150′. The partial answer is that Port Townsend lots are much smaller than the average county lot, being about 1/8th acre lots. Port Townsend is by and large urban, and has been designated as such in the SMP. Their shoreline usage is more restrictive in general. That fact was recognized in that PT has written their own SMP and the county has a separate one. That was to give the county residents more say in their SMP.

This issue of pitting the ‘urban’ folks against the ‘country’ folks is not new, and is not accurate. I sat on the SMP Policy Advisory Committee, along with about 20 other people. We had many county residents in that group, including shoreline owners, real estate and developer representatives on that committee.  We debated issues, researched issues, did not agree on everything, and had heated discussions at times about choices. I support the results of that multi-year process, because what ultimately came out of it was a consensus document.

I urge people to read the document, and consult with DCD staff if they have any questions. And I urge people here, and in Clallam and Kitsap Counties, who are starting their SMP process,  not wait until the end of a process to get involved. This is our democracy, and that’s how the sausage gets made. Participation in turning the crank handle is part of it. Waiting to say you dislike the taste of the sausage after it’s made is a little late, doesn’t it?  I seem to remember the Little Red Hen encountering something like this in a fairy tale I read my child once.

In the 1970s and 1980’s, the citizens of the State, through initiative and subsequent legislative action, specified that the counties surrounding Puget Sound needed to create shoreline and critical areas protection. The legislature funded the efforts and pushed decision making and regulation crafting to the counties, with oversite and final approval by DOE to make sure that the regulations met general guidelines.  We were given the power to structure our regulations. That’s what we’ve done. Now comes what we all knew was going to happen. The inevitable lawsuits.

Jefferson County Board Approves Shoreline Master Program for State Review

DONE!??? – Amazing… after years of effort. Thanks to all who participated, no matter what your point of view on this.  And thanks to the Board of County Commissioners for taking on some very dicey positions, like the change to geoduck aquaculture, and establishing 150′ buffers on all marine shoreline and 100′ on lakes. Allowing home building in Natural designations is something I have an issue with,  however, out of all this a tighter framework for shoreline protection has been crafted, albeit it with numerous loopholes, which is the flexibility that so many people who damned the document as it was crafted, wanted to see.  Congratulations for taking the difficult stand you needed to take. Now to get enforcement to back up these rules.

Port Townsend, WA— After a thorough and detailed review, the Board of County Commissioners reached an important milestone in the effort to update the Shoreline Master Program (SMP).  On Monday, December 7, 2009 the Board took formal action by passing a resolution to approve an updated SMP for submittal to the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) for final review and adoption.  The Commissioners considered over 300 written and verbal comments and spent some 30 hours in deliberations to prepare an SMP that strikes a balance between shoreline use and protection.  Next, the Locally Approved SMP (LA-SMP) must be reviewed and approved by Ecology prior to the new shoreline provisions taking effect, anticipated for no sooner than Spring 2010.
The Locally Approved SMP complies with state mandates to provide environmental protection for our freshwater and marine shoreline resources and allow necessary and appropriate shoreline use and development activities to continue.  The new LA-SMP takes a flexible approach to shoreline buffer widths for new use and development by offering six options to allow site-specific tailoring. Single family homes continue to have special standing with allowances to build along Natural shorelines, to build on small lots, and to expand the existing footprint with minimal impacts to shoreline ecology when specific criteria are met.
The LA-SMP also recognizes the importance of the aquaculture industry for our local economy and water quality along our marine shores.  New permitting requirements will allow ongoing and new aquaculture activities to continue providing jobs and bolstering the region’s reputation for quality seafood products while striving to minimize conflict between adjacent land uses.  New permit requirements for mooring buoys will recognize the potential impact that boats can have on shellfish growing areas and ensure aquaculture operations won’t be damaged by vessel discharge.  New vegetation management provisions will help protect natural shoreline functions and processes while minimizing risks to human health and safety.
“I appreciate all the public input and dedicated work by Michelle McConnell and other Department of Community Development staff to shape the SMP into an excellent balance between protecting the environment and individual property rights” said District 3 Commissioner John Austin.  “The thoroughness and openness of the process to develop this Shoreline Master Program has been exemplary,” added Phil Johnson, Commissioner for District 1.
During the Board’s extensive discussions, they weighed scientific and technical analyses to ensure key shoreline functions and values are adequately protected.  Shorelines play an important role in maintaining water quality, wildlife habitat, potable water supplies, sediment erosion, and more that support the quality of life upon which Jefferson County residents and visitors depend.  The Board has crafted an SMP with many ‘flex points’ that tailor performance standards and permit processes to accommodate site conditions and property rights.
Board Chair, David Sullivan, Commissioner for District 2 noted “A lot of the value of our private shoreline properties is due to the fact that they are located along a healthy shoreline environment.  The immense amount of public participation in this three-year process has resulted in an SMP that improves shoreline protections and protects private property values.”
After conducting their own public hearing, the Board accepted many of the provisions proposed by the Planning Commission Final Draft SMP, released in July, and directed staff to make certain changes.  Many edits were in response to specific suggestions from public comments.  Other changes were minor revisions to correct errors, formatting and make the text more readable.  The Board made substantive changes to some policies and regulations to ensure consistency with state requirements, in consideration of legal and procedural requirements, and to attain document consistency.  Key changes the Board made to the Planning Commission Final Draft SMP include:
Buffers – Avoiding a ‘one size fits all’ approach, the Board accepted the Planning Commission’s six proposed buffer adjustment options including 1) buffer reduction; 2) buffer averaging; 3) Critical Area Stewardship Plan (CASP); 4) Non-conforming Lots Standards; 5) Common Line Buffer; and 6) Shoreline Variance.  The Planning Commission proposal for 150’ standard buffer along all streams/rivers and 100’ standard buffer on all lakes was also accepted by the Board.  However, after difficult deliberations to balance property rights, state mandates for ‘no net loss of ecological functions’ and critical area protections, and scientific guidance, they opted to support a 150’ standard buffer for all marine shores, rather than the Planning Commission proposal for only 50’ along Shoreline Residential and High Intensity designated marine shores.

Non-conformity – The Board added review criteria thresholds in order to differentiate performance standards and permitting processes for situations when a non-conforming single family residential (SFR) structure increases the total footprint.  Under the Board’s proposal, a non-conforming SFR structure will be able to expand/enlarge up to 10% of the footprint without a conditional use permit or shoreline variance as long as prescriptive criteria are met, or up to 25% when the buffer area is enhanced with native vegetation.  The Planning Commission proposal had allowed for such expansion/enlargement without sufficient criteria or standards, making compliance with the state ‘no net loss’ requirement questionable.
Economic Development –
a.      Aquaculture – The Board gave serious consideration before including an outright prohibition on net pens and a qualified prohibition on all finfish aquaculture that uses/releases harmful materials, in contrast to the Planning Commission proposal to allow such operations when they didn’t have negative effects.  The differentiation between ‘Bottom Aquaculture’ and ‘Floating/Hanging Aquaculture was replaced by addressing ‘Aquaculture Activities’ collectively, with an exception for geoduck aquaculture.  The Board changed the Planning Commission proposed permit requirement for geoduck aquaculture from an Administrative Conditional Use Permit (CUP) only when adjacent to Shoreline Residential environment designation to requiring a Discretionary CUP in the Natural, Conservancy, and Shoreline Residential designations, and a Substantial Development Permit in the High Intensity designation.  This allows local review to ensure aquaculture operations and adjacent uses are compatible.
b.     Industrial/Port – The Board’s concern for adjacent use compatibility also led them to include a provision to control noise, vibration, glare, and odor impacts for industrial and port development.
Residential use –
a.      Beach Access Structures and Boating Facilities – The Board included regulatory differentiation between public and private structures to prefer public structures that serve greater numbers of people and minimize the proliferation of individual structures as per state requirements.
b.     Shore Armor – The Board included a provision to allow shore armoring to protect existing public transportation infrastructure and essential public facilities when otherwise prohibited for other use/development.
c.      SFR & ADUs– The Board removed the Planning Commission’s proposed allowance for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) related to single family residential (SFR) use/development in the Natural shoreline designation in order to meet state requirements for density and intensity of development in sensitive areas.
Mooring buoys –
The Board changed the permit requirement from a Substantial Development Permit (SDP) in all environment designations as proposed by the Planning Commission to an Administrative CUP when adjacent to Natural, Conservancy, and Shoreline Residential designation, and SDP when adjacent to High Intensity.  This change was in response to recent concerns about the potential impacts of moored boats on shellfish growing areas, and to streamline the permitting process for the applicant.  While the County recently enacted a moratorium on new buoys in Mystery Bay, final adoption of the new SMP would repeal that ordinance.  The County is currently working with state agencies, stakeholders, and the public to develop a Mystery Bay Management Plan.
The Locally Approved SMP gives special recognition to single family homes with many provisions not afforded to other types of development:  1) single family homes will be allowed along Natural shorelines as a conditional use, where they are currently prohibited; 2) existing single family homes that don’t meet the new buffer requirements will be considered ‘non-conforming’ but will be allowed to rebuild on the same footprint should natural disaster damage the structure; 3) non-conforming homes will be allowed to expand/enlarge up to 25% of their footprint without conditional use or shoreline variance permits; 4) new single family homes can be built on non-conforming lots that are too small for the standard buffer as long as site-specific criteria are met to minimize shoreline impacts; and 5) new single family homes built adjacent to existing homes which could block views, may be located closer than the standard buffer to ensure shoreline views that are comparable to the neighbors.
The Board’s many changes have resulted in an SMP that allows for reasonable development along Jefferson County’s river, lake and saltwater shores while finding a compromise between environmental protection, private property rights and public access.
Once Ecology receives the County’s locally-approved SMP, they will schedule a comment period and public hearing, and then provide the County with feedback on the document as to its compliance with the state’s Shoreline Management Act and the SMP Guidelines.  After both the County and the State agree on a final version of the SMP, both entities will formally adopt the program, and the new SMP will take effect.  Final adoption is currently anticipated to occur no sooner than Spring 2010.
The purpose of the Shoreline Master Program is to maintain existing shoreline resources, foster shoreline recovery over time, and to balance shoreline use and protection.  Jefferson County is required to update its Shoreline Master Program (SMP) in compliance with the State’s 1971 Shoreline Management Act and the 2003 SMP Guidelines.  All 39 counties and over 200 cities in the State must update their SMPs by 2014. Today, Ecology announced adoption of a new SMP for the City of Kennewick in the Tri-Cities area of the state, joining a list of some 8 other municipalities with new SMPs in place, including City of Port Townsend SMP adopted in 2007.  To date, only two counties have successfully completed such an SMP update – Whatcom County and Douglas County.
For more information or to join the SMP e-mail notification list, contact Associate Planner Michelle McConnell at 360.379.4484, via e-mail at or visit the County’s Web site

Jefferson County SMP to be locally approved. Monday 12/7

Local Approval:    The SMP is set for local approval by Board of County Commissioner Resolution next Monday, December 7 (tentative time is 10:45 am but subject to change).  Board agendas are online at, generally posted on the Thursday prior to each meeting.

Final document revisions, some tricky formatting issues and preparation of the 35-page resolution with over 170 findings of fact and numerous attachments took longer than anticipated, keeping staff from meeting the previously anticipated November target dates for local approval.  Apologies for any inconvenience the delay may have caused.

Local approval means the SMP will be submitted to the WA Dept. of Ecology for the final review and adoption process.   The new goals, policies, designations and regulations will be in effect upon final adoption, currently anticipated for sometime in 2010.

Public Comment:
Once the Board takes formal action the SMP will be available to the public (online, review copies, etc.) and will be sent to Ecology.  Then another public comment period and public hearing will be scheduled by the state.  This email list will be notified when specific dates are determined.

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