State agency defends shorelines plan

By Janice Podsada
Everett Herald Writer


EVERETT, WA -- The state Department of Ecology has filed an appeal in Thurston County Superior Court challenging a state board's decision that struck down Everett's revised shoreline master plan.

The Ecology Department approved the city's plan in early 2002, and the Everett City Council adopted it in April 2002.

The Ecology Department is responsible for implementing the Shoreline Management Act. It must sign off on all shoreline master plans, which designate possible land uses for properties near city shorelines and create future management polices.

The department's appeal charges that the Central Puget Sound Hearings Board misinterpreted state law when it rejected the city's shoreline plan. A hearing date for the appeal has not been set.

In January, the unelected three-member hearings board ruled that the city's plan, which was approved by Ecology Department officials, did not protect fragile shoreline and fish habitat areas at the Marshland site on the Snohomish River and the shores of Smith and north Spencer islands.

Board members said they based their decision on the Growth Management Act, which governs the growth of both rural and urban areas, and the Shoreline Management Act, which governs development of land within 200 feet of state waters.

In the challenge filed Friday, Ecology Department officials said the board did not accurately interpret the Growth Management Act or the Shoreline Management Act.

The Ecology Department is the third agency appealing the board's ruling. In February, the Port of Everett said it would appeal the decision. And the city of Everett has filed an appeal in Snohomish County Superior Court alleging that the hearings board overstepped its authority and made a decision not based on state law.

Members of the Everett Shorelines Coalition challenged the city's plan in July, saying that the wrong land-use designations had been applied to five Everett shoreline areas.

The hearings board took up their challenge and issued a decision in January.

The city's former shoreline plan, written in 1976, protected 100 acres. The revised plan would have protected 4,000 acres.


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