Island County planners look to streamline shoreline permit process

Getting a permit to develop on the shoreline may become easier and quicker.

Island County Community Development staff are looking at streamlining the process and sought consent from the commissioners on Wednesday to offer applicants a “door 2” — basically a shortcut — to some of the more strenuous requirements.

Currently, shoreline permits require studies under the shoreline master program in addition to different studies under Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regulations. The proposed shortcut would allow applicants to use one standardized programmatic biological assessment. The approach would potentially reduce the cost and application preparation time for applicants, improve certainty in the review process and reduce application review time, according to Hiller West, director of the community development department.

One goal is to minimize the need for a parcel-by-parcel individual biological assessment. For an individual proposing to develop in a floodplain, completing this type of assessment can cost several thousand dollars and take weeks to prepare, West said.

With the new approach, the county would use existing regulations on critical areas, floodplain development and shoreline development to assess permits.

FEMA would need to sign off on the proposed change. The planning department is in the process of meeting with the federal agency, along with the Department of Ecology, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife and other agencies to determine what data is needed to secure the OK. Once a scope of work is determined, West said he will go back to the commissioners to seek their approval for creating the programmatic approach.

The commissioners gave the planning department the green light to keep researching, but Island County Commissioner Jill Johnson, chairwoman of the board, voiced reservations. She described her stance as a “non-no,” until she has more information.

More in News

Community weaves together fundraiser after fiber theft

In late February, Lydia Christiansen and her husband Alan woke up to… Continue reading

Navy extends comment period on special ops training

The area where the Navy conducts special operations training may be expanded… Continue reading

Port gets $500k for parking lot in Mukilteo

Curt Gordon’s decade-long mission to build a parking lot is finally getting… Continue reading

Goat University not kidding around

Covering goats from head to tail

Ignacio Rivera appears in Island County Superior Court.
Man accused of biting off part of victim’s ear

A South Whidbey love triangle led to “a brutal beating” in which… Continue reading

Staff from Island County Human Services gave a presentation on housing issues and homelessness in the county to the Planning Commission Monday. The department has been able to help over 400 households with its Housing Support Center since it opened in August 2016, but there are still more than 400 households waiting for assistance, largely due to the lack of affordable housing. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News Group
Point in Time count shows 170 without permanent housing

Over 170 people were counted as either unsheltered or in temporary housing… Continue reading

WhidbeyHealth seeking $20 million loan

Public meeting set for March 21

Many incumbents seeking re-election

It’s a big election year for Island County with many county positions… Continue reading

Lummi demand release of captive orca

‘She must be reunited with her family’

Most Read