Ecology starts review of Kirkland shoreline program amendment

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) seeks public comment on a proposed amendment to Kirkland's recently-approved Shoreline Master Program that would extend the program to the Finn Hill, Juanita and Kingsgate neighborhoods when the city annexes them on July 1, 2011.

The amendment would add 3.9 miles of Lake Washington shoreline along the Finn Hill neighborhood to the 6.1 miles covered now in the city's program. The shoreline master program guides construction and development in the city's shoreline area by combining local plans for future shoreline development and preservation with new shoreline development ordinances and related permitting requirements.

Without the amendment, the annexed area would retain the provisions of the King County shoreline master program, to be implemented by the city.

Under Washington's voter-approved Shoreline Management Act, Ecology must review and approve Kirkland's proposed amendment to the program before it takes effect.  The Kirkland City Council forwarded the amendment to Ecology on Nov. 22, 2010.  The city's overall program received Ecology approval, effective Aug. 4, 2010, making Kirkland the first Lake Washington local government to get state approval of its shoreline program updates.

Ecology will accept public comment on the Finn Hill amendment to Kirkland's shoreline program through Feb. 11, 2011.  Comments and questions should be addressed to Joe Burcar, Department of Ecology, Joe.Burcar@ecy.wa.gov, 425-649-7145.

Kirkland's proposed program amendment and related documents are available for review at: * City of Kirkland website: http://www.ci.kirkland.wa.us/depart/Planning/Code_Updates/AnnexationSMP. htm

* City of Kirkland Planning Dept., 123 5th Ave., Kirkland, 425-587-3258, Contact: Teresa Swan.

* Department of Ecology website: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/shorelines/smp/mycomments/kirkland_li mited_amend.html

* Dept. of Ecology Northwest Regional Office, 3190 160th Ave. SE, Bellevue, 425-649-7000. Contact: Joe Burcar

Ecology may approve the shoreline program amendment as written, reject it or direct Kirkland to modify specific parts.  Once approved by Ecology, Kirkland's amended shoreline program will become part of the overall state shoreline master program.

Shoreline master programs are the cornerstone of the state Shoreline Management Act passed by voters in 1972. The programs help minimize environmental damage to shoreline areas, reserve appropriate areas for water-oriented uses and reduce interference with the public's access to public waters and shorelines.

The law requires cities and counties to develop and periodically update their locally tailored shoreline programs if they have marine shorelines, lakes 20 acres in size or larger, or streams and rivers flowing at 20 cubic feet per second or greater.

Ecology adopted new guidelines in 2003 that establish the basic requirements for updating local shoreline master programs. The guidelines resulted from a negotiated settlement between business interests, ports, environmental groups, shoreline user groups, cities and counties, Ecology, and the courts.

All of Washington's more than 260 cities, towns and counties with shorelines must update their shoreline programs by December 2014.

Thanks to Bob Yoder for the heads up.