Legislature expected to pass shorelines revision

By Janice Podsada
Everett Herald Writer


Everett, WA - The Legislature is expected to pass the Everett Shorelines Bill this week.

It's passage could jeopardize a state hearing board's decision that struck down portions of Everett's revised Shoreline master plan.

House Bill 1933, introduced by Rep. Jean Berkey, D-Everett, spells out the steps cities and counties must follow when they integrate shoreline plans into their growth management plans.

A 1995 state law requires that the two be combined.

However, the law did not specify whether the Growth Management Act, which governs rural and urban growth, or the Shoreline Management Act, which governs development of land within 200 feet of state waters, should take the prime role in a master shoreline plan.

The bill would clarify the pecking order.

"The Central Puget Sound Hearings Board decided that the Shoreline Management Act had priority over the Growth Management Act. My legislation ensures that one doesn't have priority over another," Berkey has said in describing HB1933.

The bill has passed both the House and the Senate. But "the Senate made some changes, so now the House has to concur with those changes," she said.

Critics of the board's January decision say it gave too much weight to the environmental protection of shoreline areas; neglecting a state mandate to provide for a range of uses, including public access, development and preservation of shoreline areas.

The bill's passage also could strengthen three appeals filed in state Superior Court by Everett, the Port of Everett and the state Department of Ecology.

The agencies allege that the hearings board overstepped its authority and made a decision not based on state law.

The board ruled that the city's shoreline plan did not protect fragile shoreline areas at the Marshland site on the Snohomish River, and the shores of Smith and north Spencer islands.

The three-member board has the legal authority to determine if a development plan complies with growth and shoreline acts.

Passage of the bill would be good news for the city, Everett planning director Paul Roberts said.

"When the court looks at this appeal, the court should notice that the Legislature stepped in and said the hearings board did not correctly interpret the law."

But Peggy Toepel, co-chairwoman of the Everett Shorelines Coalition, said she was disappointed by the bill's impending passage.

The board's decision, contrary to the city's and port's opinion, does not rule out seaport development, Toepel said.

The Legislature has no business changing the language of the 1995 act in order to overrule the board's decision, she said. It contradicts what legislators said in 1995 about integrating the two acts, she added.

"It's pretty poor policy. You don't go around unraveling decisions."


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