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Shoreline Master Programs

Phase 6: State Approval

Task 6.1: Provide public notice and opportunity for comment | Task 6.2: Prepare decision packet | Task 6.3: Work with local government to finalize SMP amendment approval

Ecology’s first step in the state approval of amendments to local SMPs (WAC 173-26-120) is to determine whether or not the package is complete. If the submittal is complete, Ecology sends the local government a letter acknowledging that it is complete. If it is incomplete, Ecology sends the local government a letter identifying the deficiencies. After Ecology determines the submittal is complete, the formal state approval process can begin. The state approval process generally takes six months to complete. (Phase 6 tasks apply to both SMP amendments and new SMPs. New SMPs are rare, as most jurisdictions have SMPS, so the following discussion refers just to SMP amendments to keep it simple.)

Task 6.1: Provide public notice and opportunity for comment

Ecology typically opens at least a 30-day comment period for each proposed SMP amendment.

  • Ecology notifies the public that the SMP amendment is available for review and comment. A notice is sent to all parties of record including federal and state agencies and interested parties.
  • For local governments planning under GMA, Ecology notifies the Department of Commerce that it is initiating formal review.
  • Ecology may hold one or more public hearings in the town, city or county submitting the SMP. If Ecology schedules a public hearing, it will publish a notice in one or more newspapers and on Ecology’s public calendar.

Within 15 days after the close of the comment period, Ecology sends the local government the oral and written comments received during the state's review and the comment period.

The local government has 45 days to prepare its response to comments.

  • Local governments must review the issues raised and prepare a response, consistent with the SMA and Guidelines.
  • A local government may request an extension to the 45-day period. If no extension is requested, and Ecology has not heard from the local government, Ecology proceeds to the next step (Task 6.2: Prepare decision packet).

Task 6.2: Prepare decision packet

Within 30 days after receiving a local government’s response to comments, Ecology must make written findings and conclusions on the SMP amendment’s consistency with the SMA and SMP Guidelines and also respond to the issues identified during the review and comment period (RCW90.58.90(1)(d)).

Ecology may (1) approve the submitted SMP amendment as is, (2) approve the SMP amendment subject to the local government making required changes, or (3) deny the SMP amendment. Ecology must send the findings and conclusions to the local government and make them available to all parties of record.

  1. If Ecology approves the SMP amendment as submitted, the amendment is effective 14 days from the date of Ecology’s letter to local government approving the amendment.
  2. If Ecology approves the SMP amendment with required changes, local government has 30 days after receiving Ecology’s decision letter to either:
    • Agree to the proposed changes by sending a letter to Ecology indicating acceptance of the required changes. Ecology will send this letter to all parties of record. The effective date of the approved SMP amendment is 14 days from the date of the department’s letter to local government acknowledging receipt of the local government’s acceptance of the required changes ; OR
    • Submit an alternative proposal. If Ecology determines the alternative is consistent with the intent of the changes Ecology had originally proposed, the SMA and Guidelines, the agency will approve the alternative and send a letter stating its approval to the local government and all parties of record. The effective date of the approved amendment is 14 days from the date of Ecology’s letter to the local government approving the alternative proposal.
  3. If Ecology determines the alternative is not consistent with the intent of the changes proposed by the department, Ecology may either deny the alternative proposal or, at the request of the local government, start anew with the review and approval process.

Promptly after approving or denying the SMP or amendment, Ecology shall publish a notice consistent with the Growth Management Act (RCW 36.70A.290) stating its decision. Ecology also must notify the legislative authority of local governments that do not plan under the GMA by telephone or electronic means, followed by written communication as necessary, to assure that the local government has received the written decision.

Appeals

  • The department's final decision to approve or reject a proposed master program or amendment by a local government planning under the Growth Management Act (RCW 36.70A.040) shall be appealed to the growth management hearings board by filing a petition within 60 days after publication of Ecology’s notice (RCW 90.58.190(2).
  • The department's final decision to approve or reject a proposed master program or amendment by a local government not planning under the Growth Management Act (RCW 36.70A.040) shall be appealed to the shorelines hearings board by filing a petition within 30 days of the date of publication of Ecology’s notice (RCW 90.58.190(3).  

Task 6.3: Work with local government to finalize SMP amendment approval

Ecology’s goal is to resolve any issues and develop SMP language that is mutually acceptable to both the state and local government. If Ecology requires changes to a proposed SMP amendment, Ecology staff will work closely with the local government to develop language consistent with the SMA and SMP Guidelines so the local government can complete the approval process. (Note: Local SMPs were once adopted as state regulation. This is no longer the case, except for circumstances described in WAC 173-26-070.)

For more information

Law:

  • Shoreline Management Act RCW 90.58.190(3)(a)
  • Growth Management Act RCW 36.70A.290(2)
  • Rule: WAC 173-26-120

    Contact Ecology's shoreline planner serving your town, city, or county or Ecology's statewide contact on the SMP amendment process: Tim Gates at tim.gates@ecy.wa.gov or 360-407-6522.

     

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