Coupeville shoreline plan tweaked

Coupeville residents will have a chance next week to review the town’s revised Shoreline Master Plan.

Copies of the new plan will be ready by Friday, Jan. 18, after Larry Kwarsick, town planner, makes revisions that were suggested by the Washington state Department of Ecology.

“We are ready to proceed with the final phase of adoption of the Shoreline Master Program,” Kwarsick said during Tuesday’s Town Council meeting.

With the plan revised, the town is going through another public comment round before the council adopts it in March.

The Shoreline Plan sparked controversy last year when many resident were critical of language that allowed construction over the water on several lots on Front Street in downtown Coupeville. Officials from the Department of Ecology said that the town would have to make a “compelling argument” for that language to eventually be approved. Town officials eventually changed the language from the draft to disallow most over-water development.

In addition to the overwater language change, the state Department of Ecology required the town to make several other revisions to the draft plan including:

• Expand and detail requirements for cultural resource and archeological assessments and project application requirements.

• Prohibit new over-water residential uses.

• Protection and preservation of existing over-water historical buildings and their historical uses.

• Prohibition of new over-water structures that do not dedicate at least 50 percent of the gross floor area for water dependent uses.

• Requirements to provide alternative public views and public beach access for new construction along the historic waterfront.

Public comments will be accepted from Jan. 18 through Feb. 18. The Town Council will review the public comments on March 25 and then schedule a public hearing.

Mayor Nancy Conard said the public comment period goes beyond what the town is required to offer. The extended period allows enough time for people to digest the information and make thoughtful input, she said.

Kwarsick stressed that comments concerning the shoreline plan should be made to the town. The Department of Ecology has to also approve the plan and that entity could also hold a public hearing. Once adopted, the Shoreline Plan gets written into the state administrative code.

In addition to the Shoreline Master Program, the town will also adopt a Critical Areas Ordinance and a Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance.

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