June deadline for city’s shoreline plan

Downtown Poulsbo shoreline jurisdiction under the new draft Shoreline Managment Program - City of Poulsbo
Downtown Poulsbo shoreline jurisdiction under the new draft Shoreline Managment Program
— image credit: City of Poulsbo

POULSBO — The City of Poulsbo has until June to submit a final Shoreline Master Program plan to the Department of Ecology. Its funding to work on the plan runs out that month.

However, there are many kinks to be worked out, as the Poulsbo port commissioners presented its issues with the regulations at a workshop Wednesday.

Ecology representatives answered questions about what they look for in a plan, and the council and port commissioners discussed where they could find some wiggle room.

City Planner Keri Weaver jumpstarted the discussion with a presentation about the most commonly asked questions.

- Why can’t Poulsbo reduce the current 125-foot shoreline buffer and setback?
The draft shoreline plan establishes a 100-foot buffer, additional 25-foot building setback, and another 75-foot shoreline jurisdiction zone.

Buildings that fall within the 125-foot setback are considered non-conforming, meaning if they were proposed today they would not conform to current law.

To establish the shoreline buffer, the city used a scientific study that was used to establish the 2007 Critical Areas Ordinance: the Eastern Kitsap nearshore habitat assessment conducted by the county.

In order to reduce the buffer, the city would need to justify to Ecology that smaller buffers would result in no net loss of ecological function and value, and would provide better protection for critical areas than the existing buffers.

Mayor Becky Erickson said she doesn’t anticipate the council asking to reduce the buffers.

“One hundred feet is a reasonable buffer around our critical shoreline,” she said. “We are trying to preserve our shoreline for our children, our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren. We’re not going to get anymore shoreline.”

- Why can’t Poulsbo look at other jurisdictions’ buffers?
Councilwoman Linda Berry-Maraist pointed out that other Kitsap jurisdictions, currently updating their shoreline plans, have smaller buffers — as little as 0 foot in Port Orchard.

However, Ecology’s Joe Burcar said the department recognizes each city’s unique characteristics, and there is no standard for buffers or setbacks.

- The Critical Areas Ordinance allows for variable/interrupted buffers for wetlands. Why can’t Poulsbo do this for the shoreline?
The ordinance and shoreline plan requirements are not the same, Weaver said. Ecology does not recognize interrupted buffers for shorelines, as the entire shoreline must be looked at as a whole.

- Can’t Poulsbo have more permit exemptions in the Shoreline Master Program?
Exemptions are established in state law, Weaver said.

Port commissioners presented their concerns at the meeting, to be reviewed and discussed at a later workshop, and stressed this process should not be rushed through. The port is updating its Comprehensive Plan, which will include a number of projects that will be impacted by the city’s Shoreline Master Program.

One of their concerns was that the city had addressed seaplane and airport regulations in the plan, despite not having jurisdiction over a sea airport. Planning Director Barry Berezowsky conceded that that language may be eliminated, but pointed out a dock for a seaplane would fall within the Shoreline Master Program jurisdiction.

Another City Council workshop will be held April 4, at their regularly scheduled council meeting.


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