Department of Ecology News Release - February 22, 2013

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Ecology starts review of Burlington's shoreline program update

BELLINGHAM – The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) seeks public comment on Burlington's recently updated Shoreline Master Program, a landmark effort that will significantly increase protection and restoration of area shorelines and water quality.

The updated master program guides construction and development in the city's roughly three miles of Skagit River shoreline. It combines local plans for future development and preservation with new development ordinances and related permitting requirements.

Under Washington's voter-approved Shoreline Management Act, Ecology must review and approve Burlington's program before it takes effect.

Ecology will accept public comment on Burlington's shoreline program through March 15, 2013. Comments and questions should be addressed to Bob Fritzen, Department of Ecology, Bellingham, WA 98225, or by email to bob.fritzen@ecy.wa.gov, or call 360-715-5207.

Burlington's proposed shoreline program and related documents can be reviewed at:

Ecology may approve the shoreline program as written, reject it or direct the city to modify specific parts. Once approved by Ecology, Burlington's shoreline program will become part of the overall state shoreline master program. Ecology also will help each local jurisdiction legally defend its shoreline program if necessary.

Burlington'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 to preserve existing shoreline areas while protecting future economic development. Burlington collaborated over three years with waterfront property owners, environmental interests, local governments, tribes and state agencies.

Shoreline master programs are a 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.

Burlington's proposed updated master program:

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

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

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

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Media Contacts:

Larry Altose, Ecology media relations, 425-649-7009, larry.altose@ecy.wa.gov

Bob Fritzen, Ecology shorelines planner, (360) 715-5207, bob.fritzen@ecy.wa.gov

For more information:

City of Burlington Shoreline Master Program

More about shoreline master programs (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/shorelines/smp/index.html)

Our Living Shorelines web portal (www.ecy.wa.gov/livingshorelines/index.html)

Ecology's social media (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html)