The state Department of Ecology has mandated that King County update its Shoreline Master Program by 2009, part of a review and overhaul of the over 30 year old Shoreline Master Program throughout the state. This update could have potential ramifications for waterfront properties, although it is generally expected that the recent regulations brought on by the King County Critical Areas Ordinance will already cover most updates that would be deemed necessary. King County has also taken a lesson from the sometimes controversial and contentious process that resulted from the Critical Areas Ordinance’s implementation, this time rolling out the process and drafts in a slower fashion with public inputs encouraged at each step. The Shoreline Master Program and CAO have the interests of the environment and larger community in mind, while sometimes these regulations may clash with the property rights interests of owners along shorelines who prefer more leeway in what they can do with their property.

The Shoreline Management Act applies to marine shorelines, rivers with a flow greater than 20 cubic feet per second, lakes larger than 20 acres, upland areas within 200 feet of these water bodies, floodplains, and wetlands associated with these shorelines. The act covers land use, public access, archaeological / historical resources, and ecology.

King County has recently distributed a draft map of areas where the Shoreline Master Program updates may apply. County representatives are also holding four public input meetings, two of which occurred last week in Carnation and Enumclaw. The next two are on Tuesday February 13 5:30-8:30 pm in Maple Valley and Thursday February 15 5:30-8:30 pm on Vashon Island. Public comments are also being accepted by mail, email, phone, or at the meetings.

The projected timeline for the next steps in the process includes a draft of the revised county plan for this June, a second updated draft in the fall, and a final version for presentation to the King County Council in March 2008. DOE requires that the county have a finalized plan completed and submitted by December 2009.

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