Shoreline comments sparse during controversy

"The Island County commissioners tried to hear public comments Monday regarding a draft of changes to the Shoreline Master Plan. But most of the public wasn't talking.Phil Bakke, planning director, said the existing plan, which was adopted in 1998, has been the subject of an arm-wrestling match with the state Department of Ecology for the past two years. The county and the DOE had finally struck a preliminary agreement and the county was ready to adopt the changes. But in November the DOE introduced a whole new set of rules about shorelines that address, in far stricter terms, protection of endangered species. That is an area that the county plan does not touch on and is likely to be hotly contested.The new rules are pretty draconian, said county commissioner Bill Thorn.The law is described on the DOE web site: Under current law, local governments have two years after adoption to prepare new local master programs based on the guidelines. During the 2001 legislative session, Ecology and the governor will request that funds be provided for updates, and will support requests for an extension of the two-year compliance deadline. The shoreline regulations would apply to individual projects after the local government amends its local master program.The DOE's new rules have already been challenged, with Island County among the complainants. The majority of audience comments Monday revolved around putting off final adoption of the changes until the furor dies down.The county planners have submitted the final draft to the DOE and are awaiting news about its acceptability. Public comment will again be heard at 2:45 April 23. Residents are encouraged to read the draft plan and attend the hearing.The Island County Shoreline Master Plan is available at; or call the planning department, 321-5111. The DOE rule is available for download on the state Web site at For a paper copy of the rule, call 1-888-211-3641. "

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