Whatcom County Commences Shoreline Management Program Periodic Update – Open Houses Scheduled
Whatcom County is beginning the process of updating the County’s Shoreline Management Program (SMP). The County uses the SMP to regulate activities along our shorelines. The State of Washington requires Whatcom County to periodically update their SMP. The review ensures the SMP stays current with changes in laws and rules, remains consistent with other County plans and regulations, and is responsive to changed circumstances, new information and improved data. Typically, periodic updates involve administrative clarifications, a consistency review, changes required by the state, and incorporation of new scientific understanding.
The SMP update process involves three phases, anticipated to take 12-16 months. First, the scope of the update will be determined. The scope will be based on public comments, staff-identified issues, and input from the Planning Commission and County Council. The County Council will then set the scope. Thus, if there are issues any members of the public would like to see addressed, they should participate during this phase.
During the second phase of the process, County staff will work with consultants to draft updated language and modify maps based on this issues the County Council identified during scoping. In the final phase, the draft revised SMP program will be presented to the public through additional open houses. Both the Planning Commission and the County Council will hold public hearings. Final approval of the updated SMP will be by the County Council, anticipated in mid-2020.
Whatcom County Planning and Development Services is reaching out to the citizens of the County for their involvement in the update process. Outreach begins in June 2019 to determine what changes should be considered in this update. The goals for public participation are to:
- Provide interested parties with timely information, an understanding of the process, and multiple opportunities to review and comment on proposed amendments to the SMP.
- Actively solicit information from citizens, property owners and stakeholders about their concerns, questions and priorities for the periodic review process.
- Encourage interested parties to informally review and comment on proposed changes to the SMP throughout the process and provide those comments to decision makers.
- Provide forums for formal public input at project milestones prior to decision-making by local officials.
- Consult and consider recommendations from neighboring jurisdictions, federal and state agencies, and Native American tribes.
Open houses to kick off the process have been scheduled for 7:00 – 9:00 pm at the following locations:
- June 10, 2019 - Birch Bay Bible Church, 4460 Bay Road, Birch Bay, WA
- June 19, 2019 - Mount Baker High School, 4936 Deming Road, Deming
- June 25, 2019 - Civic Building, Garden Room, 322 N Commercial St, Bellingham
County staff and consultants will be on hand to explain the update process and gather input from participants.
To learn more about the SMP update or to sign up for email notifications regarding the update process, visit https://www.whatcomcounty.us/3097/Shoreline-Master-Program-Periodic-Update. Interested parties are encouraged to provide comments by letter or email. All comments will be compiled and provided to the Planning Commission and County Council.
For additional information contact:
Cliff Strong, Project Manager
Whatcom County Planning and Development Services
5280 Northwest Drive, Bellingham, WA 98226