Shoreline Master Program Update
Shoreline Management Act
Washington's Shoreline Management Act (SMA), passed by the State Legislature in 1971, is intended "to prevent the inherent harm in an uncoordinated and piecemeal development of the state's shorelines." While protecting shoreline resources by regulating development, the SMA is also intended to provide for appropriate shoreline use by encouraging land uses that enhance and conserve shoreline functions and values.
The SMA has three broad policies:
- Encourage water-dependent and water-oriented uses: "uses shall be preferred which are consistent with the control of pollution and prevention of damage to the natural environment, or are unique to or dependent upon use of the state's shorelines..."
- Promote public access: "the public's opportunity to enjoy the physical and aesthetic qualities of natural shorelines of the state shall be preserved to the greatest extent feasible, consistent with the overall best interest of the state and the people generally."
- Protect shoreline natural resources, including: "...the land and its vegetation and wildlife, and the water of the state and their aquatic life..."
The SMA requires local governments to adopt Shoreline Management Programs (SMPs), adopted under guidelines established by the Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE), to implement the above policies.
City of Snohomish Shoreline Master Program
The City of Snohomish adopted its first SMP in 1976. The State requires the SMP to be updated periodically. The City began an update process in 2009. Between 2009 and 2012, the City created a Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) and contracted with Environmental Science Associates (ESA) to support the comprehensive SMP update. Draft SMP update documents were developed during this time. Due to City staff changes and competing priorities, SMP update efforts were put on hold in December 2012. In August 2016, the City reinitiated efforts to finalize and locally adopt the updated SMP.
The SMP program requirements are applicable to the waters of the state and their shorelines (the area 200 feet landward of the Ordinary High Water Mark; essentially the water’s edge). In the City here are three bodies of water in Snohomish that are waters of the state, so they and their shorelands are subject to the SMP policies and regulations. Those three water bodies are:
- Blackmans Lake;
- Pilchuck River; and
- Snohomish River (which is also a Shoreline of Statewide Significance).
The Snohomish SMP establishes five "shoreline environments". Each environment has policies and regulations specific to them. The five environments are:
- Aquatic Environment (the water bodies themselves);
- Rural Utility Environment (this only includes the area around the City's wastewater treatment plant);
- Shoreline Residential Environment;
- Historic Riverfront Environment (portion of the Historic Business District within 200 feet of the Snohomish River); and
- Urban Conservancy Environment (everything that is not in any of the other environments).
The SMP is a planning document that defines goals and policies for shoreline use and development. It includes a set of regulations that will implement those goals and policies by governing the shoreline use and development in a manner consistent with state law. It also includes a framework for protecting and restoring the City’s shorelines over time. The documents that comprise the SMP include:
- Shoreline Inventory & Characteristics Report
- Shoreline Policies (which will be incorporated into the Comprehensive Plan as the Shoreline Element)
- Shoreline Development Regulations (which will be incorporated into Snohomish Municipal Code as Chapter 14.250 - Shoreline Management)
- Shoreline Restoration Plan
- Cumulative Impacts Analysis and No Net Loss Memo
DOE must certify the City’s SMP. After the City Council hold a public hearing on the proposed SMP update, the SMP will be sent to DOE which will hold its own hearings and provide findings which may include suggested/required changes. After DOE certifies Snohomish’s SMP the City Council will take final action to adopt ordinances and the provisions of the SMP will become effective.
SMP Update Timeline
- April 5, 2017: Planning Commission briefed in restarting the update process
- May 2, 2017: City Council briefed on restarting the update process
- June 9, 2017: 30-day public comment period starts
- June 21, 2017: Public Open House (4-7pm in Snohomish Library meeting room)
- July 10, 2017: 30-day public comment period ends
- July 12, 2017: Planning Commission public hearing
- TBD: City Council public hearing to consider final draft of the SMP
- After Council public hearing: Final draft of SMP sent to DOE for certification
- After DOE Certification: City Council adoption of implementing ordinances; SMP goes into effect
The public is encouraged to offer their comments on the proposed updated SMP. To learn more about the proposal download the documents (links are below) and/or attend the public open house any time from 4-7 p.m. on June 21, 2017, at the Snohomish Library, 311 Maple Ave. Or, you can contact Planning Director Glen Pickus via email or at 360-282-3173.
Written comments may be submitted by email or by delivering them to City Hall, attention Glen Pickus, at 116 Union Ave. Comments may also be submitted at the open house and at the public hearings.