Proposed major changes to development regulations on Budd Inlet and other shorelines reached a milestone Tuesday night.
After about six years of public process, the Olympia City Council voted unanimously to approve its Shoreline Master Program and transmit it to the state Department of Ecology, which is requiring it.
The council approved a resolution that put its blessing on the draft plan, which is far from finalized.
It will be sent to the Department of Ecology in the next month, said Keith Stahley, director of community planning and development. Ecology will accept public comments on the plan and could hold its own public hearing. Once the state approves the plan, it will kick it back to the City Council to approve a final ordinance.
That process could take six months to a year, Stahley said.
“You will see this again,” Stahley said.
The plan regulates development on major city shorelines, most notably Budd Inlet. Its goal is to ensure that development yields no net ecological loss.
Here are some of the highlights:
• On the Budd Inlet side of the isthmus and Percival Landing, the council agreed to get rid of conditions that would allow developers to build right on the water. Instead, the council decreed that no buildings would be allowed within 30 feet of the water, known as a building setback.
The previous draft put setbacks at 50 feet, but allowed developers to build right on the shore if they met certain conditions such as accommodating a walking path, allowing physical access to the shoreline, shoreline restoration and bulkhead removal.
• On the south part of the west shore of East Bay, the council changed the building setback to 100 feet from the ordinary high water mark, a change from its earlier proposal of zero feet.
• “Water related” uses, which could include boat storage, would be allowed only if a developer gets conditional approval from the city in the Marine Recreation zone, which is the Port Peninsula side facing East Bay, including Swantown Marina. Non-water-oriented industrial uses wouldn’t be allowed.
Some council members acknowledged the draft isn’t perfect and has elements they don’t like.
Councilman Nathaniel Jones criticized some of the setbacks and vegetation buffers as inadequate and said the document doesn’t do enough to address sea level rise. He said the plan falls short of requirements in the state Shoreline Management Act that a Shoreline Master Plan address flood prevention.
“The current 30-foot setback in the core of our central business district does not acknowledge the significance of the setting,” he said.