Zoning opponents assured more time in Jefferson County shoreline flap

The following article appeared in the February 10, 2009 Jefferson County edition of the Peninsula Daily News.

Zoning opponents assured more time in Jefferson County shoreline flap

By Jeff Chew
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND -- Jefferson County commissioners on Monday assured residents that the time to comment on a draft shoreline master program proposal would likely be extended.

About 30 residents, many voicing confusion about how far buildings would be required to be built or moved from the shoreline, appeared before the county commissioner Monday morning during a half-hour public comment period.

Although there has been an "extensive" process so far, county Commissioner David Sullivan said, "Still there are a lot of people hearing about this for the first time."

A first public hearing before the county Planning Commission drew an overflow crowd last Wednesday.

The planning commission resumes deliberations at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 18 at the WSU Learning Center, Shold Business Park, 201 West Patison, in Port Hadlock.

The agenda will include the commission's goals for the shoreline master program review.

Jefferson County planners said that the final draft from Jefferson County lawmakers would be sent to Ecology for review, and final adoption would likely take place sometime in 2010.

The state Legislature's deadline for a decision is 2011.

The new regulations will get final approval from the state Department of Ecology, but not until 2011, county officials have said.

Proposed in the update are buffers of 100 feet on lakes and 150-foot setbacks on saltwater bodies and streams, with 10-foot building setbacks from the buffers.

The existing Shoreline Master Program requires waterfront buffers and setbacks of between 30 and 100 feet.

The proposal affects about 6,200 shoreline parcels and about 3,200 property owners, said county Associate Planner Michelle McConnell, and could take two years to make final.

The county has more than 250 miles of marine shore, 22 miles of lake shoreline and more than 238 miles of river frontage property, mostly on the county's West End.

Nordland resident Kevin Miller said he was concerned about the economic ripple effect the shoreline master program might have on the economy.

Saying the proposal lacked a financial analysis, Miller urged the county commissioners to reopen public comment for six more months.

Port Townsend Realtor Barbara Blowers complained that the plan was not made public until December.

She was also critical of the proposal, which she called "a Whatcom County plan that was cut and pasted for Jefferson County."

She said the plan is good as it exists.

County resident Jim Hagen asked the commissioners that all residents affected by contacted about the proposal.

Randy Duhon, a Port Ludlow shoreline property owner, raised his concern about whether insurance agents would allow coverage of fire damaged homes if they had to be moved to meet the shoreline setback proposed.

Duhon said the proposal as is would likely hurt property owners, but they could pass along additional costs to renters.

County Administrator Philip Morley said he expects "a new public comment period is coming," requested by the Planning Commission.

Sullivan said he believes "it wouldn't hurt to take more time."

Port Townsend-Jefferson County Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at jeff.chew@peninsuladailynews.com.


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