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Ecology receives more than 100 comments on Bainbridge Island SMP

It’s a lot, but no record.

The comment period for the state Department of Ecology’s review of the city of Bainbridge Island’s update to its Shoreline Master Program closed on Aug. 23.

Barbara Nightingale, a regional shoreline planner and the Department of Ecology’s project manager for the update of the Bainbridge shoreline program, said this week that 112 comments were received.

The comments will be sent to the city of Bainbridge for a response, she added, as Ecology’s review of the updated SMP continues.

Cities and counties across the state are currently updating their SMPs. According to Ecology, 83 of 262 updated SMPs have been approved so far by the state.

Nightingale said the number of comments submitted to Ecology for Bainbridge’s updated SMP was “on the high end overall from my experience.”

“For an urbanized area, it is a lot of comment letters,” she said in an email to the Review.

“However, for the more rural areas, not necessarily. For example Whidbey  (Island County) had 300 comments. Tacoma had 87, Kitsap County had 54 and Jefferson County had a few hundred. Yet, Bothell and Mercer Island only had 14-16 comments and Bremerton had one from the Navy,” Nightingale added.

The number of comment letters is not entirely unexpected, however.

Critics of the updated plan were repeatedly prodded by Gary Tripp, director of the Bainbridge Defense Fund, a property rights group, to submit comments to the state.

Tripp provided outlines of areas in the updated plan for people to criticize, including complaints that committees that worked on the update were “stacked” with citizens who would not be affected by the new regulations, and that the rules were illegal and unfair.

Ecology expects to complete its review later this fall.

The agency can reject the update, send it back to the city for additional work, or approve the plan.

If approved, a 60-day appeal period will start and challenges must be made to the Growth Management Board. If that happens, the state Attorney General’s Office will defend the state-approved plan.

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