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Shoreline Master Programs

Timing and duration of permits

Local governments have some flexibility to adopt appropriate time limits for the timing and duration of substantial development, conditional use or variance permits. Time limits must be reasonably related to the time actually necessary to perform the development on the ground and complete the project that is being permitted, and/or are necessary for the protection of shoreline resources. Time limits must be consistent with the policy and provisions of the local master program and the SMA, and must be approved by Ecology.

If a local government has not established specific time limits on permits, the following "default" time limits apply.

Start-up Period

Construction (or other actions approved under a shoreline permit) must begin within two years of the effective date of a shoreline permit. Before the end of the two years, the local government may grant a single extension of up to one year to this time limit, based on "reasonable factors." Ecology and interested parties of record must first be notified.

Completion Period

Shoreline permits are valid for five years, i.e. the construction or any "development" activity must be complete during that period. Local government may issue permits that expire in less than five years as an option. Again, before the five years ends, local government may grant a single extension of up to one year based on reasonable factors, and if Ecology and parties of record are notified.

Note that conditions placed on permits "run with the land" and are in effect even after the project has been built and the five year permit authorization has expired. New owners of a project must comply with any conditions placed on a permit, (e.g., for public access), because the project has been approved based on those conditions.

Effective date

The effective date of a shoreline permit shall be the date of the last action required on the shoreline permit and all other government permits and approvals that authorize the development to proceed, including all administrative and legal actions on any such permit or approval. It is the responsibility of the applicant to inform the local government of the pendency of other permit applications filed with agencies other than the local government and of any related administrative and legal actions on any permit or approval. If no notice of the pendency of other permits or approvals is given to the local government prior to the date established by the shoreline permit or the provisions of this section, the expiration of a permit shall be based on the shoreline permit. [WAC 173-27-090(3)]

For more information

Rule:  WAC 173-27-090

Contact Ecology's shoreline permit reviewer serving your town, city, or county.


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