Public hearing on Bainbridge Shoreline Master Program postponed

The city of Bainbridge Island announced Tuesday it was postponing the public hearing that had been planned for Wednesday, Oct. 30 on the city's rewritten Shoreline Master Program.

The hearing had been planned to allow the public to comment on the Department of Ecology's draft "recommended" and "required" changes to the city's update of its Shoreline Master Program, or SMP.

The hearing will now be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20.

City officials said the change in dates was needed because Ecology has sent the city a new set of "required" and "recommended" changes to the SMP. The new lists of "required" and "recommended" changes were received by the city on Friday, Oct. 25.

The latest set of draft "required" and "recommended" changes contain slight revisions of the previous draft comments sent to the city. Most of the "required" and "recommended" changes are focused on regulations and policies covering aquaculture.

Required changes are those that must be made before the state can approve Bainbridge's updated SMP. The city can suggest alternative options, however, for those changes.

The draft list of "required" changes spans nine pages and includes 23 modifications to the Bainbridge plan. Most cover aquaculture policies and regulations, and Ecology has said the changes must be made to make the SMP consistent with the Washington Administrative Code, and state and federal laws.

In a few places, Ecology said the Bainbridge regulations had gone too far, including a regulation that could have banned the farming of non-native species, such as Pacific oysters, Manila clams, Atlantic salmon and other species.

"This policy constitutes a defacto ban on an overwhelming majority of aquaculture," Ecology said in its list of draft required changes.

Ecology also noted that commercial aquaculture already requires state and federal permits that address the issues raised in the Bainbridge SMP update.

Draft "recommended" changes that have been presented by Ecology are suggestions that can be made at the city's discretion.

The set of draft recommended changes from Ecology span six pages and contain 22 policies and regulations that the agency would like to see modified to fit with state code, or simply deleted. All but one of the 22 changes are based on aquaculture regulations or policies.

Although the public hearing has been postponed from this week, the Bainbridge Island City Council will still hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30 to discuss the SMP.

City planning staff will give a presentation on the "required" and "recommended" changes, which will be followed by a council discussion of the proposed revisions to the SMP.

The process to adopt the updated SMP will continue through November.

The next steps:

• The city council responds to Ecology's set of required changes by accepting the changes or by proposing alternative language.

• Ecology sends draft "Findings and Conclusions" to city for its review on accuracy and completeness.

• Ecology reviews the need for any further work with the city and whether the record needs further review by the headquarters’ and legal staff, an effort that is presently ongoing.

• Upon Ecology’s agreed completion of headquarters’ review, the "Final Findings and Conclusions" document, and "required" and "recommended" changes, the record goes before the director of Ecology for signing of the conditional approval letter that includes the documents containing findings and conclusions, and "required" and "recommended" changes, as attachments.

• The city council will then formally respond to the conditional approval letter. If Bainbridge Island accepts all changes and Ecology accepts any alternative language submitted by the city, the final approval letter goes out to the city with the notice that the SMP is effective in 14 days from the date of the final approval letter.

• Notice will then be given of the 60-day appeal period for the SMP.

• A legal notice will appear in the Bainbridge Review on the period for filing an appeal.


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