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State Review & Final Adoption of Shoreline Master Program

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621 Sheridan Street
Port Townsend,
WA 98368

Phone: 360.379.4450
Fax: 360.379.4451


Monday - Thursday
9:00 to 4:30                     

closed 12:00 - 1:00 for lunch

Fridays, Weekends & Holidays Closed

Page Created 2/3/2011   Page Updated 2/11/2014

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Final State Approval!

Washington Department of Ecology has approved the Jefferson County Shoreline Master Program (SMP)!  This final action completes the comprehensive update process.  The new Program will be in effect starting February 21, 2014.  For more information:


Board Adopts SMP (12/2013)

The Board of County Commissioners took formal action to adopt the new SMP with supporting documents by unanimous vote on December 16, 2013.  Staff is preparing to forward the updated SMP to Ecology for final adoption and anticipates the new program will be in effect by mid-January 2014.  Final documents will be posted online when available.

Status of Final Adoption (10/2013)

After much consideration and additional public input, the Board and Ecology have agreed on proposed provisions to regulate finfish aquaculture.  Ecology's September approval of the County's approach to a limited allowance for net pens concludes the County's formal response to the State's required and recommended changes.  Staff is working to prepare the final SMP document and it's adopting ordinance, a resolution for the supplemental technical documents. 

Revised Timeline to Final SMP Adoption

After review of public input, the Board made revisions to the March ’13 Public Review Draft of the Final Response to Ecology on Required Changes #13 – 15 and submitted that to Ecology last month.  Ecology had some follow-up questions and requested clarification on a handful of issues.  To address these, staff anticipates taking some minor edits back to the Board for approval on August 5.  Then, after Ecology reviews and approves these minor edits,  staff will proceed with preparing the final SMP document, adopting ordinance and other supplemental materials. 

At present staff anticipates the Board to take action to adopt the SMP in mid-September.  The last step is to send the County's adopted SMP to Ecology for their final review & adoption; the SMP will take effect approximately two weeks after the date of Ecology’s final approval letter, likely mid-October.  Please recognize that this is an estimated timeline and further schedule changes could occur as this moves forward.  Watch for Board agendas and related SMP materials (posted as links from the agendas) here.

Public Review - Finfish Aquaculture Provisions

After much consideration, the Board of County Commissioners released a Public Review Draft of the Revised Response to Ecology regarding provisions to allow finfish aquaculture use and development, along with a supplemental document to help describe where this type of shoreline activity would potentially be allowed to locate (based only on shoreline designation; additional regulatory provisions would still apply):

The Board accepted public comments in writing and conducted a public hearing on April 15, 2013.  Two additional informational handouts were provided at the public hearing:

Public Comments received:

Board Workshop with Fish Disease Experts

The Board of County Commissioners will meet with several fish disease experts on Monday, October 8, 2012 at 1:30 pm at the Cotton Building, 607 Water Street in downtown Port Townsend.  The meeting is open for public attendance but is not a public hearing.

Another source of policy guidance previously provided for the Board's consideration and added to the collection of finfish aquaculture information is:

Ecology Options & Timeline

Ecology responded to the County's request for more time by asking the County to choose a path forward by October 1, 2012.  The County considered the three options presented by Ecology's July letter and began reviewing draft performance standards that would serve as Conditional Use Permit (CUP) criteria should the Board choose that option.  The Board further considered the issue of how to best regulate in-water finfish aquaculture (i.e. net pens) and informed Ecology the County would pursue Option 1, the CUP.

County Requests Additional Time

The State's July 2012 letter directing final action on the SMP Update requested a decision by the County by August 15, 2012.  The County sent a response to indicate that timeline would not be met due to logistical challenges and asked for an extension:

A Board workshop regarding fish disease issues related to in-water finfish aquaculture is in the planning/scheduling phase.  More information will be posted here when available.

Ecology's Direction for Final Action

The Board of County Commissioners received a letter from WA Department of Ecology, partially in response to legal questions posed in February.  The letter also clarifies technical and procedural issues that have arisen during the County's continued consideration of the in-water finfish aquaculture issue. 

The letter identifies three pathways for moving forward on this final detail of the SMP Update: 1) conditional use; 2) conditional use & moratorium; or 3) reject, deny, appeal/rulemaking:

The County will consider this latest input from Ecology and is trying to schedule a workshop with a state expert on fish disease monitoring and prevention to better understand one key concern regarding marine net pen aquaculture (BoCC agendas online here).

Should the County proceed with option #1 or #2, the updated SMP would need to be adopted by the Board via local ordinance and gain final approval from Ecology before taking effect.  There is no estimated timeline for such action.

Board Workshop with Ecology Team

The County continued its consideration of finfish aquaculture at a workshop between the Board of County Commissioners and a team of Ecology policy and technical experts on January 23, 2012.   Related materials include:

Meeting Follow-up:  It was a good dialogue that allowed participants to better understand each other and to consider how to find a solution to the current disagreement regarding in-water finfish aquaculture provisions to be included in the new SMP. The crux of this issue is that Ecology cannot support the complete prohibition of this water-dependent use as proposed by the County.  The state is pushing for the County to allow the activity when/where proposals meet review criteria for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP). While some criteria are included in the County's 10/31/11 proposed finfish provisions, Ecology has cautioned that such criteria must not result in a de facto ban.  The outcomes of the workshop include:

  1. County staff will work with Ecology staff and technical experts from NOAA Fisheries, WA Department of Fish and Wildlife, and other agencies/entities as appropriate, to further evaluate how the existing guidance on net pen siting and operations would apply 'on the ground' in Jefferson County to identify if/where such activity could exist in local waters without unmitigated impacts to shoreline resources and adjacent uses.  Should this analysis identify locations where in-water finfish aquaculture would be considered feasible, staff would also work together to draft a set of proposed CUP review criteria.

  2. County legal counsel will confer with State legal counsel to further evaluate the procedural issues related to if/when/how Ecology would pursue formal rule-making to finalize the County's new SMP.

  3. NOAA Fisheries staff invited the County to visit the net pen research facility at the federal Manchester Lab to become more familiar with such operations as they are quite similar to commercial facilities.

Ecology Feedback on Finfish Aquaculture

Prior to preparing the ordinance package for adoption of the revised SMP via local ordinance, the County requested consultation from Ecology on the issue of finfish aquaculture to ensure there would be no problems upon submittal of the locally adopted SMP to the State for final adoption.  Ecology convened a team of policy and technical experts and met in-house to discuss the finfish provisions of the 10/31/11 formal response document.  Ecology has sent a letter providing their feedback that, in short, they will not support a complete prohibition of in-water finfish aquaculture as a limitation of a water-dependent use without adequate scientific analysis that shows there is nowhere in Jefferson County the use could be allowed with mitigation.  The Board will consider options for how to proceed - discussions with Ecology are anticipated to continue in early-2012.

County's Formal Response to Ecology

In early-October, the Board directed staff to make revisions to the draft response document based on their review of public comments received and review of additional information about finfish aquaculture.  The Finfish Aquaculture Bibliography has been revised to reflect the numerous submittals by interested public.  Staff has prepared the County's formal response to Ecology regarding the 63 possible changes to the Locally Approved SMP.  This formal response will be submitted to Ecology along with the final SMP after the Board takes formal action to adopt the revised SMP by local ordinance.  Ecology has the authority for final review and approval, and the new Jefferson County SMP will take effect upon Ecology's final adoption.

Note: These documents are provided as a courtesy; there is currently no public comment period open on these materials or the SMP Update.

Staff is working to prepare the revised SMP document as part of the ordinance package for final Board adoption of the SMP.

Final Adoption Process Timeline

The following steps are part of the final adoption process:

  • Public comment period closed on July 25, 2011

  • Board considered public input to finalize a formal response to Ecology on changes to be made to the Locally Approved SMP;

  • Board will adopt the updated SMP (with changes) via local ordinance, to become effective upon Ecology's final adoption;

  • Board will officially submit formal County Response and locally adopted SMP to Ecology;

  • Ecology will consider County Response and the SMP and may either:

1) adopt Jefferson County's updated SMP; or

2) further negotiate with County on certain changes before final adoption of updated SMP

  • The new SMP will be in effect upon Ecology's final adoption; per state timeline requirements.

The exact dates for each step cannot be predicted, but this process was to be completed before the legislative deadline of December 1, 2011.  Ecology has statutory authority to take remedial action should the deadline be missed.  In most cases the State works with local jurisdictions to find consensus that supports completion of the required comprehensive SMP update.

Draft County Response to Ecology

On June 22, 2011, the Board of County Commissioners released its draft response to Ecology about 63 possible changes to the Locally Approved Shoreline Master Program (LA-SMP).  The Board invited review and input by conducting a month-long public comment period including a public hearing held on July 11, 2011.

The Draft Jefferson County Response to Ecology on Changes to the LA-SMP ("Draft County Response") matrix of 63 possible changes, including maps, is available below for review and download:

Supplemental Materials for Draft County Response:

A public review copy of the Draft County Response document (matrix + maps) is available at the Department of Community Development office (621 Sheridan St., Port Townsend, WA 98368).  A limited supply of hand-out copies for the public is currently available.

Finfish Aquaculture Information

As the County considers its response to Ecology on required changes to the proposed policies and regulations regarding finfish aquaculture, additional literature and technical information is being considered.  Review those materials via the Laserfiche WebLink.  Instructions below:

  1. Open the Laserfiche WebLink

  2. Click on "Permits"

  3. Click on "Long Range Planning"

  4. Click on "SMP"

  5. Click on "Finfish Aquaculture Information"

Note:  Documents are provided in PDF and many files are very large.

As additional materials are obtained they'll be added to the Laserfiche collection.

County Consideration of Changes

Upon receipt of Ecology's conditional approval of the Locally Approved Shoreline Master Program (LA-SMP), the Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) must consider the required and recommended changes and respond to Ecology as to whether the County accepts, declines or proposes alternative changes.  BoCC agendas are posted here.  Below are details of this process:

6/20/11 - BoCC approved the Draft County Response for public review regarding 63 possible changes to the LA-SMP, including finfish aquaculture provisions and two mapping changes, and approved the publication of a legal notice to hold a comment period and public hearing.  Staff was directed to correct a mapping error to accurately reflect the Board's intent.

6/6/11 - BoCC reviewed draft finfish aquaculture code proposal and directed staff to make final edits and mapping revisions for the Draft County Response to Ecology on Changes to LA-SMP ("Draft County Response") in preparation for publishing a legal notice for a comment period and public hearing.

4/25/11 - BoCC continued their discussion of finfish/net pen aquaculture, advised staff to temporarily cap the collection of additional literature, requested staff to prepare a revised draft of finfish aquaculture code proposal, and sent a letter to Ecology regarding project status:

4/18/11 - BoCC continued their discussion of finfish/net pen aquaculture and agreed to take more time to review the growing collection of literature on the subject.

3/21/11 - BoCC continued their review of the draft response on finfish/net pen aquaculture. The pending public comment period/hearing is on hold until further notice. BoCC to further consider draft response in light of key supporting documents at future meeting (TBD).  Handouts included:

3/14/11 - BoCC completed review of draft response to Ecology except for changes to finfish/net pen aquaculture provisions.  Additional discussion needed, so public hearing date not yet determined.  Handouts included:

3/7/11 - Continued BoCC review of possible changes to LA-SMP.  Staff was directed to prepare draft response to Ecology including Whatcom-type provisions for finfish/net pen aquaculture.

2/28/11 - BoCC continued their review of the DCD Recommendation and agreed with most of the staff guidance.  Further consideration on some topics will continue at the next meeting.  One handout was provided:

2/22/11 - BoCC began their review of the DCD Recommendation on Ecology's required and recommended changes and additional revisions proposed for clarification.  BoCC agreed to send a letter to Ecology advising that the County's response will be submitted by April 30, 2011.  BoCC indicated another public hearing is anticipated in March on some/all possible changes.  Staff provided the following materials and handouts:

2/7/11 - BoCC began their initial review of Ecology's approval with required and recommended changes. Staff provided a handout with corrected citations and added page number references to assist review.  And the Chief Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney (DPA) provided a matrix to review alternatives related to another public hearing. BoCC directed staff to prepare a recommendation on possible changes.  See these materials below:

State Approval

On January 26, 2011, the Washington Department of Ecology announced their conditional approval of the Locally Approved SMP pending some required changes.  The letter from Ecology's Director with attachments are posted below, and are online at the state website:

Ecology sent notification to a mailing list of over 3,000 shoreline property owners and an email list of over 600 interested parties.  See the letter below:

Ecology also distributed a press release to regional media and local newspapers to announce their approval of the County's SMP.

Next steps include County review of the required changes and response to Ecology to accept or provide alternative changes, State final adoption and County final adoption by ordinance.

Responsiveness Summary

As required by state SMP Guidelines, the County has prepared a review of and response to the issues raised by over 300 comment letters/testimonies received during the state-wide public comment period.  The Responsiveness Summary groups individual comments into topics, identifies issues of public interest and responds generally to those issues.  The original June 2010 due date was extended twice by request to Ecology to allow review of the large volume of comment received. 

View related documents below:

See below for letters/testimony submitted during the state-wide public comment period.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

As part of the ongoing effort to keep citizens and stakeholders informed, a new informational handout has been prepared by Jefferson County to address issues commonly heard from interested parties.  Further, the state Department of Ecology provides numerous resources to educate and engage the public. 

Jefferson County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney has prepared two memos specific to public interests in the issue of 'takings' regarding private property rights.

Additional materials help explain the science used to determine the proposed buffers.

Click below to view the following:

State-wide Public Comment Period

The Washington Department of Ecology accepted public comments on the Locally Approved SMP from April 12 to May 11, 2010 and held a public hearing on April 20 at Fort Worden Sate Park in Port Townsend.  Learn more about the status of the state review process on the state website.

Public comments received by the State are available for viewing online by following the Laserfiche WebLink viewing instructions.  Click on the 'State-wide Comments_2010'  subfolder under 'SMP'.  An Item Log is provided as a table of contents.

Return to Locally Approved SMP page

Return to the SMP Formal Review page.

Return to the SMP Update page.



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