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June 10, 2009


City Council shows openness to residents’ suggested changes to Shoreline Master Plan, with some caveats By J.B. Wogan

The City Council has revealed some willingness to use residents’ suggestions on updating the city’s Shoreline Master Plan, but not on everything. Before the council discussion began June 2, residents took to the podium to impress upon their elected officials that they preferred a draft they wrote and submitted May 19. “I really believe in the work we’ve done,” said Reid Brown, who lives on East Lake Sammamish Shore Lane Southeast. Brown’s comments were echoed by other lakefront homeowners who said they represented dozens of other residents who couldn’t attend the meeting. City Councilwoman Nancy Whitten signaled early on that the council would not simply rubberstamp the residents’ draft. “Frankly, I was very disappointed in the Sammamish homeowners’ draft,” she said, adding that the residents’ draft didn’t provide enough protections for shoreline vegetation, especially on Pine and Beaver lakes. While Whitten was the most vocal critic of the residents’ proposed changes, City Councilman Mark Cross indicated he would be resistant to allowing new boat ramps on the lake and allowing lakefront homes to build higher stories – elements of the residents’ draft. Two members of the City Council, Nancy Whitten and Don Gerend, live by Pine Lake and would be directly affected by the shoreline regulation changes. The City Council chamber was packed, to the extent that extra

File Photo

Homes like this one along Beaver Lake may be required to maintain a buffer along the lakeshore. chairs were set up in the City Hall lobby so people could listen to the meeting from outside the main room. A series of green petition sheets circulated the room, petitions showing public support for a Shoreline Master Plan revised by Sammamish homeowners. The updated plan would be a set of policies and regulations on shoreline building. Its main impact would be on Lake Sammamish as well as Pine and Beaver lakes. The City Council must approve some form of a Shoreline Master Plan update – with more stringent restrictions – by the end of 2009 to comply with a state Department of

Ecology mandate. The Planning Commission, a citizen advisory board, drafted a plan in November 2008, with help from the Department of Community Development and a consultant, for the council’s approval. But the plan drew criticism from residents who said it would infringe upon their property rights, inhibit their ability to enjoy the lake and lower the resale value of their homes. Early in the June 2 meeting, the council approved a suggested change from the citizens’ draft, which relabeled the protected areas between a home and the shoreline. While the Planning Commission used the terms

“Critical Areas Ordinance buffer” and “setback,” the citizens used the terms “shoreline zone,” “shoreline enhancement area” and “setback.” The differences are more than just semantics. The buffer would be a 15-45 foot area with no building permitted, and minimal use (25 percent would be set aside as active use). The citizens’ equivalent of a

buffer is the shoreline zone, which would also be 15-45 feet, but would have less restrictions on how the area could be used. In both cases, residents would have the option of shrinking the 45 foot default area by using incentives. The citizens suggested more incentive options than the Planning Commission. The shoreline zone would also have a specific 15 foot enhancement area for Lake Sammamish and a five foot enhancement area for Beaver and Pine lakes. Residents would plant native and nonnative vegetation in the enhancement areas in return for a smaller total shoreline zone, though not smaller than 15 feet. Gerend was sympathetic to some Lake Sammamish lakefront owners who need to find ways of building closer to the water. “When you look at reality, you’re talking about properties with very shallow lots. You can’t actually build 50 feet away,” he said. Gerend pointed out that the Planning Commission’s plan did not have language requiring vegetation restoration, as the residents’ draft did. In other words, increased plantings between the home and the shoreline would be traded for building closer to Lake Sammamish. “I think it’s a reasonable compromise,” Gerend said. Whitten was adamant that a See SHORE, Page 15

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“Critical Areas Ordinance buffer” and “setback,” the citizens used the terms “shoreline zone,” “shoreline enhancement area” and “setback.” T...

rich landscaping  

“Critical Areas Ordinance buffer” and “setback,” the citizens used the terms “shoreline zone,” “shoreline enhancement area” and “setback.” T...