The meeting came after the city met with business, environmental and other government interests, including the Port of Olympia, which objected to the plan last week. The state Department of Ecology is requiring the plan update and has final say once the council submits its recommendation, which appears likely to shift into next year.
Among the proposed regulations, the plan recommended by the city’s planning commission would:
n Allow no new commercial development within 100 feet of the port’s shoreline along all the north and most of the east side of the port peninsula, affecting the port’s development plans.
n Allow no new commercial development within 50 feet of the Budd Inlet shoreline on the isthmus, affecting Bayview Thriftway, Oyster House and the Olympia Yacht Club.
n Allow no new commercial development within 50 feet of the shoreline for some uses, 100 feet for others. No new industrial uses would be allowed. Affected property owners include Hardel Mutual Plywood Corp., Dunlap Towing Co. and the West Bay Marina.
The plan would render large swaths of the developed shoreline as non-conforming, meaning what’s there now could stay, but certain modifications would not be allowed.
Proponents of the plan say it would improve public access to the shoreline and protect against sea-level rise. Opponents characterize it as a taking of private property.
Councilwoman Julie Hankins wanted to know whether housing is allowed on Port of Olympia property. A port representative said last week that it wasn’t allowed, but she said some background reading indicates it is.
Councilman Nathaniel Jones asked about the state’s authority on conditional-use permits, and whether ports get special priority in allowed uses along the shoreline. He also wondered how other governments that have drafted shoreline plans have dealt with covered moorage. Such moorage would be heavily restricted in the draft plan.
Jones also questioned whether the city could require the sort of “soft,” reinforced shoreline that it has put in place at Percival Landing and West Bay Park. It’s not a hard bulkhead, but rather something closer to a natural shoreline.
Councilwoman Jeannine Roe asked about the impact the draft plan would have on Dunlap Towing and other industrial uses on the water. She wanted to know about the definition of “nonconforming use.”
Councilman Jim Cooper said he was looking not only for “no net loss,” which is what the state requires for the plan, but also a “net gain” for the environment and economic development.
Mayor Stephen Buxbaum said the meeting was about giving city staffers guidance and direction, not stating views. The council is set to deliberate about the plan next week.
“I for one am pushing on expedience on getting this document wrapped up,” he said. “Next week is that first step on coming up with what we want,” he said, which then will go to the public for review.