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Shoreline Master Programs

Ecology review of permits

Ecology has two duties relative to permits:

  1. Ecology is the repository of all locally approved and denied shoreline permits for the entire state.
  2. Ecology conducts substantive review on conditional use permits (CUPs) and variances to check for compliance with the policies and procedural requirements of the local SMP and the Shoreline Management Act (Chapter 90.58 RCW).

Mailing a permit to Ecology

After all local permit appeals are complete and the permit documents are amended to incorporate any resulting changes, local governments must mail the permit to the appropriate Ecology regional office and the Office of the Attorney General. Mailing must be done using return receipt requested mail. [RCW 90.58.140]

The permit and documentation of the final local decision should be mailed together with:

Ecology's substantive review

Ecology asks the following questions during its review of local shoreline permits:

  • Is the proposal development?
  • Is the proposal substantial development?
  • What SMA water body is the proposal in, on, under, or adjacent to?
  • What shoreline environment(s) is the proposal in?
  • Is the proposal in a wetland, floodway, or 100-year floodplain?
  • Is the proposal in or on Shorelines of Statewide Significance (SSWS)?
  • Did the local government issue all required shoreline permits for the proposal (SDP, CUP, VAR)?
  • If the application is for a CUP or variance, does it meet the criteria?
  • Was the proposal assigned the proper Shoreline Master Program use category or categories?
  • Does the proposal comply with all applicable SMA and SMP regulations?

Twenty-one day appeal period starts with “the date of filing"

The twenty-one appeal period is defined in RCW 90.58.140(6) and starts with the date of filing, which is:

Appeals may be filed with the state Shorelines Hearings Board within the twenty-one day appeal period. If none are filed, the applicant may begin the permitted activity.

Procedures at the end of the appeal process

If a shoreline permit is appealed, Ecology rules [WAC 173-27-130(10)] require certain "housekeeping" steps at the end of the appeal process. The following steps ensure that the local and state files are complete and accurate, and prevent new opportunities for further appeals:

  • If the project has been modified during the legal review proceeding, Ecology shall provide plans or text to the local government that clearly indicate the final approved plan.
  • Ecology must be send a copy of the final order to the local government.
  • The local government must reissue the permit accordingly and submit a copy of the reissued permit and supporting documents to Ecology for completion of the file on the permit.

For more information

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

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