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Bainbridge council narrowly approves new Shoreline Master Program

The Bainbridge Island City Council approved an update to its Shoreline Master Program Wednesday night.

In a 4-3 vote, the city council sent the updated program to the Department of Ecology for review. The move puts an end to another phase in the update's progress toward final acceptance.

Council members Bob Scales, Kirsten Hytopoulos, Anne Blair and Debbi Lester voted to send the update onward.

Council members David Ward, Steve Bonkowski and Sarah Blossom voted against sending it on.

There were only a few minor modifications to grammar and syntax made to the program, but it was largely passed without major alterations.

Ecology is now tasked with scrutinizing the program to see if it holds up to state regulations and law. The state's Attorney General's office will also go over the program to ensure that property rights are not threatened.

The Shoreline Master Program is how local jurisdictions comply with the statewide Shoreline Management Act managed by the Department of Ecology.

In the past, Ecology has sent updated programs back and forth, with cities asking for modifications and corrections to be made. Officials with Ecology have said that it is likely that such requests will be made of Bainbridge's update, therefore, the city hasn't seen the last of the program just yet.

Once Ecology approves the rewritten regulations, the Bainbridge rules will become part of the statewide program and officially under Ecology's purview.

The update has spent years make its course through a city process that involved citizen work groups, development with the planning commission, and finally, consideration with the council.

The update has drawn considerable ire from many shoreline homeowners who objected to new regulations on waterfront development. Many have protested the update at multiple city council meetings on the topic and in a march on city hall in March.

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