State ecology department approves Renton's shorelines update
November 28, 2011 · Updated 10:05 AM
The Washington Department of Ecology has approved the update of the City of Renton shoreline master program' which took months to develop in consultation with the public and property owners.
The program will improve the protection, use, development and restoration of 18 miles of shoreline and the water quality of Lake Washington plus the Cedar, Green and Black rivers, May and Springbrook creeks, and their wetlands, according to the ecology department.
"One of the strengths of the Shoreline Master Program is that it provides a clear and predictable path for the improvement of waterfront properties," said City Council President Terri Briere, who played a key council role in updating the program.
"At the same time, alternative review processes have been built in to allow property owners flexibility while still complying with the spirit of the program," said Briere.
Renton is one of more than 40 local governments that have completed their updates. The master programs combine local plans for future shoreline development and preservation with new shoreline development ordinances and related permitting requirements.
Mayor Denis Law said the city is pleased with the state's approval of the shoreline program.
"Our staff spent many months working with DOE to craft these policies," he said. "Members of our community spent many hours providing important input that helped make it an even better set of regulations. I believe we struck a fair balance between the need to protect our environment and the rights of our waterfront property owners."
Some key features of Renton’s updated program:
• Integrates shoreline regulations with Renton’s growth management planning and zoning, flood plain management and critical areas ordinances.
• Improves protection of habitat and water quality through regulations that apply to shorelines within Renton along Lake Washington, the Cedar, Green, and Black rivers and May Creek, and to the shorelines of Lake Serene, a potential annexation area for the city.
• Requires vegetation buffers and building setbacks of up to 100 feet, depending on lot size and conditions and risks along specific shorelines.
For new recreational piers, requires light-transmitting grated decks and reduced width.
• Limits construction of new shoreline armoring and encourages the use of soft-bank erosion control methods.
• Includes a restoration plan showing where and how voluntary improvements in water and upland areas can enhance the local shoreline environment.
• Helps support the broader Puget Sound Initiative to protect and restore the Sound.
The state’s Shoreline Management Act requires Ecology to review each city and county shoreline program. On approval by Ecology’s director, these become part of the state shoreline master program. The department will help defend approved local shoreline programs against legal challenges.
“By working together, the city, property owners and other parties have developed a program that will protect our treasured shoreline resources for ourselves and future generations," Geoff Tallent, Ecology’s regional shoreline programs supervisor.
"Shoreline protection safeguards the economic and environmental health of our waters from creeks and rivers to Lake Washington and Puget Sound. Our shorelines make Washington a great place to live," he said.
Shoreline master programs are a cornerstone of the state’s 1972 voter-approved Shoreline Management Act, according to the ecology department.
The law requires cities and counties with regulated shorelines to develop and periodically update their locally tailored programs. This helps minimize environmental damage to shoreline areas, reserve appropriate areas for water-oriented uses, and protects the public’s right to public lands and waters.