Ecology department to take public comment Wednesday on Tukwila’s shoreline plan

  • Tuesday, September 28, 2010 4:54pm
  • News

The Washington Department of Ecology is seeking public comment on Tukwila’s recently updated shoreline master program, an effort that will significantly increase protection and restoration of Green and Duwamish River area shorelines and water quality.

Ecology will host a community open house and public hearing on the Tukwila shoreline program proposal Wednesday (Sept. 29) in the Tukwila City Council chambers, 6200 Southcenter Blvd. in Tukwila.

Experts from Ecology and Tukwila will be available to answer questions. The open house will begin at 6 p.m., followed by the public hearing at 7 p.m.

The updated shoreline master program guides construction and development in the city’s 13 miles of shorelines. The revised shoreline program combines local plans for future development and preservation with new development regulations and related permitting requirements.

Under Washington’s Shoreline Management Act, Ecology must review and approve Tukwila’s program before it takes effect.

Ecology will accept public comment on Tukwila’s shoreline program through Oct. 15. Comments and questions should be addressed to David Radabaugh, Department of Ecology, david.radabaugh@ecy.wa.gov or at 425-649-4260.

Tukwila’s proposed program and related documents are available for review at:

Online

• Tukwila Department of Community Development; 6300 Southcenter Blvd., Suite 100 Tukwila; 206-431-3670

Ecology’s Northwest Regional Office in Bellevue (by appointment, 425-649-7000) 3190 160th Ave. S.E.

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

Ecology also will help the city legally defend its shoreline program if necessary, according to an ecology department press release.

Tukwila’s updated shoreline program was adopted by the City Council after an extensive local process. The update began with a thorough inventory of existing land-use patterns and environmental conditions. The city then prepared policies and regulations to preserve existing shoreline areas while protecting future economic development. Tukwila collaborated over 10 years with waterfront property owners, builders, real estate agents, commercial property owners, environmental interests, local governments, tribes and state agencies.

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 with streams and rivers flowing at 20 cubic feet per second or greater to develop and periodically update their locally-tailored shoreline programs.

Key features of Tukwila’s updated program include:

• Landscaping and vegetation regulations in shoreline areas.

• A public access strategy to supplement the existing Green River trail system.

• Buffers of 50 to 125 feet.

• Reconfigured and setback levees to provide added flood water conveyance and more stable levee slopes as well as room for additional riparian habitat.

• A restoration plan showing where and how voluntary improvements in water and upland areas can enhance the local shoreline environment.

• Policies and regulations to support the broader Puget Sound initiative to protect and restore the Sound.

Tukwila joins a growing number of cities, towns and counties that are required to comprehensively update their shoreline program using the 2003 guidelines. The state guidelines allow each town, city and county flexibility to customize their program regulations to fit local land-use circumstances and its vision of local waterfront development.

More than 30 have already updated their shoreline programs, with 70 updates currently under way, including in Renton. Most haven’t done so comprehensively in almost 40 years.

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