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Shoreline debate heating up

"What's the hottest topic in town these days? Nope, not the weather or the Mariners surprising slump, but the proposed shoreline regulations. The shorelines issue seemed to be flying just below most folks' radar all summer. Then, abruptly, a local flier generated awareness and next thing you know it's standing room only at the shoreline's community meeting in Poulsbo. Part of the lack of interest in the public meetings can be blamed on the Kitsap County Department of Community Development which runs the meetings. They have done little to publicize the series of neighborhood meetings. When we called looking for the meeting schedule, we were told to check the web site. Other government agencies routinely bombard newspapers with public notices - so these local meetings were almost overlooked until an alert reader flagged them for us. Just this week, the interim regs limiting uses of shoreline property were extended to more local property owners, with predictable the government can't tell me what to do with my property protest that followed. The reality is that government has always had the right to tell you what you can do with private property. The debate instead is about how to undo generations of environmental abuse - we're simply debating just how high the initial payments should be and who makes the amends first. Should waterfront property owners alone pay the full tab for saving the salmon? Of course not, we'll all pay. As these regulations are being crafted you still have an opportunity to let your voice be heard. You can influence how soon and how many changes will come to your doorstep. But don't kid yourself - you cannot change the fact that we long ago gave our government permission to override our individual liberties for the collective good. The tide has begun to turn from environmental destruction to environmental protection in our state - and as it turns, it also washes away more individual liberties. "

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