Hearings planned on Island County shoreline rules

COUPEVILLE — Island County has 207 miles of shoreline, about 40 percent of which is residential.

Owners of those marine or lake shorelines are encouraged to participate in the county’s process to update its shoreline management regulations.

The changes are mandated and paid for by the state, said Karen Stewart, the county’s shoreline master program coordinator.

A series of public hearings continues at 10:20 a.m. Nov. 5 in the Board of Commissioners hearing room in Coupeville and at 6 p.m. Nov. 19 in the same hearing room.

“People should get out and express their points of view on these plans,” said County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson.

Last updated in 2001, the shoreline master program focuses in part on how vacant shorelines in the county might develop as the housing market gets going again, Stewart said.

The update proposed by the Island County Board of Commissioners includes revised goals and policies that amend the county’s comprehensive plan, revised shoreline environment designations, a restoration plan and an amendment to replace some of the language in the existing plan.

The Shoreline Management Act was passed by Legislature in 1971 in response to a citizen initiative to protect shoreline resources. The intent of the act is “to prevent the inherent harm in piecemeal and uncoordinated development of the state’s shorelines.” The goals are to protect water-oriented uses of the land along with natural resources and ecological functions, promote public access and economic opportunities and maintain the county’s high quality of life, Stewart said.

The update will incorporate most current scientific and technical information available and provide predictable requirements for shoreline property owners, Stewart said.

“The hearings can help people learn more about the ecology of their shorelines, find out about safety around eroding bluffs and other natural hazards,” Steward said. “The hearings are a place to express their needs, even for people who don’t own shoreline property but who have an interest in a nearby shoreline.”

For more information about the Island County shoreline master program, go to www.islandcounty.net/planning/shorelines.

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