Commission, advisory committee review comments for shoreline program
October 7, 2021
The process of updating Wahkiakum County's Shoreline Master Program took another step toward completion Tuesday.
The program outlines guidelines for waterfront development and use along county shorelines.
County commissioners and members of the county Real Property Rights Committee reviewed public comment that came after the program was presented at a public hearing in the summer.
Committee representatives Nick Nikkila and Chuck Hendrickson listed the comments from the public and how the proposed program addressed them.
Several persons expressed concern about required setbacks, fearing regulations would prohibit use of private land.
Hendrickson said committee members, who drafted the current proposed program, investigated shoreline programs from other counties and learned that a 100' setback would probably be the smallest acceptable to the state Department of Ecology, which manages shoreline development state wide.
"Other folks have asked for shorter distances and have been rejected," Nikkila said.
"We want the least restrictive program as possible and get it approved," said Commission Chair Gene Strong. "Why give them (Ecology) a red flag?"
Other comments suggested requiring archeological studies in suspected archeological sites and provisions for dealing with a rising sea level or protection for trees.
Nikkila said the committee wanted to avoid requiring studies, which can drive up the cost to the land owner and make it too expensive to use land.
He explained that the county's shoreline program manager would have authority to require certain studies, based on site criteria.
Also, the program's position on public access to shorelines is that access is required over public lands but not for private property.
The group said some editing is still needed to make sure things such as references to dates and page numbers are correct. Once that work is done, the program can come back to the county commissioners for their approval, and then it can be submitted to Ecology, who can either approve the program or require changes to meet state regulations.