Shoreline plan developed

If current plans become law, Coupeville residents could see a new list of regulations they have to follow.

After 18 months of work, the Town of Coupeville is preparing to present a draft of the Shoreline Management Plan to the public.

The plan outlines new regulations that affect structures near the shoreline. Those regulations provide more consistency with the town code and comprehensive plan.

Donna Keeler, a consultant hired by the town to help develop the plan, said there are three issues that people are concerned about. Those issues relate to building on historic Front Street in downtown Coupeville, residential setbacks along the shoreline, and bulkheads.

Buildings on the north side of Front Street are built over the water, but don’t have a water dependent use — something that is discouraged by the state Shoreline Management Act.

There are currently four lots in downtown Coupeville where buildings could be constructed over the water.

Keeler said the town has a long history of building over the water and future construction wouldn’t cause any further adverse environmental impacts.

To allow development of the vacant lots, the town is proposing that buildings can be built 15 feet beyond the ordinary high water mark. Keeler said that limit would provide future developers with a reasonable standard that isn’t excessive.

“The end result to is not to deny people the reasonable use of their property,” Town Planner Larry Kwarsick said.

Any builder wanting to develop one of the shoreline lots in downtown Coupeville for a non-water-dependent use, then would also have to contribute financially to a shoreline restoration project elsewhere within town boundaries.

One of those areas is at Captain Coupe Park. Kwarsick said other restoration projects could include removing relic structures such as concrete paths from various areas throughout the town’s shoreline.

He added restoration projects would be proportional to the environmental impact of a proposed building.

Another aspect of the town’s proposed Shoreline Management Plan relates to residential development. The plan calls for a 75-foot setback from the ordinary high water mark, unless neighboring structures within 200 feet have a narrower setback.

The Shoreline Plan also revises bulkhead regulations. Bulkheads can’t adversely affect nearby shoreline, beaches or aquatic habitats. The plan prohibits construction of a bulkhead seaward of the ordinary high water mark, according to a draft of the Shoreline Management Plan.

Town officials have worked on the Shoreline Management Plan for more than a year. Officials have held meetings with groups and the Planning Commission has been talking about the plan in workshops held during their regularly-scheduled meetings.

The Town is paying $28,950 to develop it’s own master plan. Of that amount, $14,475 comes from a grant.

The public will see the first draft of the Shoreline Management Plan during a meeting Thursday, Aug. 25, 7 p.m. at the Coupeville Recreation Hall.

Keeler said she hopes to have the plan approved by the end of the year.

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