Ecology to get earful on Bainbridge Island's SMP Wednesday

Islanders against Bainbridge Island's proposed update of its Shoreline Master Program are preparing to give representatives from the state Department Ecology an earful this week.

A public hearing hosted by Ecology will be held at city hall, Wednesday, July 31. An open house at 6 will kick off the public hearing that will officially begin at 7 p.m.

Ecology's hearing will be yet another opportunity for islanders to voice their opinions about controversial changes to the state-mandated update. This time, protestors will get to bring their arguments directly to Ecology officials who will ultimately approve, or modify, the island's update to its Shoreline Master Program.

Gary Tripp, through his organization, the Bainbridge Defense Fund, has been prepping shoreliners in the lead-up to Wednesday's hearing.

In a July 26 email to fellow opponents of the shoreline program, Tripp outlined opposition arguments and provided a series of talking points.

Talking points include: the city will not allow a home to be rebuilt if it is burned down by unnatural causes; the city will take away a homeowner's right to use their house if they don't steadily live in it for one year; regulations on gardening interfere with personal freedoms and the right to express one's self through gardening; and the city has included "gotcha" regulations in the program that will prevent shoreliners from rebuilding their homes.

Tripp, an email activist, has long been at the forefront of the Shoreline Master Program's opposition, often using his email listserv to disseminate information and opposition arguments. He served on a citizen work group that was pulled together to consider shoreline setbacks and vegetation conservation issues as the update was in early development in 2010. He voiced his objections to the program as it passed through the city's Planning Commission in 2011, and onto the city council's dais in 2012. He also led a march on city hall in March protesting the program.

More recently, Tripp has claimed that the island's program violates the Shoreline Master Act, Washington State's constitution and the United States Constitution.

Some islanders, however, have criticized Tripp for spreading misinformation about the Shoreline Master Program and for making things up about the impact of the new shoreline regulations and policies.

The city council gave an initial thumbs up to the Shoreline Master Program and handed it off to Ecology in May.

Ecology began accepting public comments on the island's proposed program on July 22. It will continue to collect comments until 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23.


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