Next Discussion of Shoreline Plan for Olympia Set for Late January

By Matt Batcheldor, December 21, 2012, The Olympian

After three years of discussion, the end might be in sight for Olympia’s Shoreline Master Program. Another draft has been released and will be subject of a public hearing Jan. 22.

The council is scheduled to adopt a plan Feb. 19, said Keith Stahley, city director of Community Planning and Development. The draft then would go to the state Department of Ecology about March 22. The state, which is requiring the update of the plan, will conduct a final review. It could take six months to a year to make modifications. Then the council would consider that plan.

The “somewhat final draft” of the plan, Stahley said, reflects direction from the City Council, which has held 15 meetings on the subject since April.

“That represents probably 40 hours of discussion and time and deliberation on council’s part,” he told the council at Tuesday’s meeting. A more refined draft will be available before the public hearing.

Some highlights:

• About the northern half of the West Bay shoreline would be an urban intensity zone, requiring buildings to be set back 30 feet. A small portion near the northern city limits would be an urban conservancy zone, with a setback of 100 feet.

• About the southern half of West Bay, which is largely developed, would be in a waterfront recreation zone, with a minimum setback of 150 feet.

• The Budd Inlet shoreline of the isthmus, the Percival Landing area and the southern area of East Bay would be in an urban intensity zone, allowing development 30 feet from the shoreline.

• The northern portion of East Bay, representing the Swantown Marina area and the north point of the Port of Olympia peninsula, would be designated for marine recreation, with setbacks as low as 30 feet if certain vegetation requirements are met.

The setback requirements generally are smaller than those recommended by the city’s Planning Commission, which, for example, would have required buildings to be 100 feet from much of the port’s shoreline.

The council didn’t discuss the plan further Tuesday night. Mayor Stephen Buxbaum got the council’s consent that “we think you’re on track.”

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