Shoreline discussion washes up in Poulsbo

Meeting fliers draw large crowd and ruin session at Marine Science Center.

“POULSBO – A Tuesday night discussion on shoreline management was getting a bit hot for Renee Beam of Kitsap County Planning – and the meeting hadn’t even started yet. In fact, the heat was on just about everyone who crammed into the Marine Science Center’s theater to listen to Beam’s presentation on the county’s options concerning future shoreline policy. Approximately 100 people crowded into the small, stuffy room and many more waited outside, craning their necks in a vain attempt to hear comments. Seeing the futility of the situation, Beam moved the entire session to the only area at the MSC that could accommodate the vast group – the parking lot. We expected about 80 to 100 people, Beam said, adding that 400 fliers mailed out by a private citizen changed this. About 200 people attended what was supposed to be a small neighborhood meeting and as a result the two-hour session turned out to be a waste of time, she added. Obviously it didn’t go the way we had planned, said Beam, who serves as the county shoreline administrator. It was really frustrating. All those fliers messed up our small neighborhood discussion. The fliers were sent out by Jim Harris, a local realtor, who circulated the Property Owners Alert to inform waterfront residents about the Aug. 22 meeting and potential changes concerning shoreline management. I think we are all sensitive to our environment and want to continue seeing seals, otters, deer, pheasants, eagles, blue herons and cormorants in our neighborhood, Harris explained in the letter. However, I am concerned that these new rules will result in loss of the full use, enjoyment and inherent rights of property ownership. Harris cited suggested changes to county rules pertaining to bulkheads, native plants, stormwater runoff and conservancy in his memo. Kitsap County has 190 miles of shoreline (not including cities and tribal land) that will be effected by the new regulations. Of this, 80 percent is described as built out and the remaining 20 percent is currently listed as vacant. To meet growing environmental demands that are coming down the pipe from both the state and federal governments, county officials have been working to revise its shoreline policy and other related regulations. The new rules are the result of the National Marine Fisheries Service’s listing local salmon stocks as endangered and have since snared just about every government agency and landowner in the state. Kitsap County is one of many in Washington which have taken the initiative in an effort to attain certain exemptions under the 4(d) rule. If it can create a feasible environmental plan, which meets NMFS’ standards, the county will not be subject to lawsuits which many feel will result from the stricter salmon protection policies in the revised Endangered Species Act. Beam said the county was looking into such options as a standard setback or site specific marine assessments as tools to handle near shore development. We are here because we want to hear what you have to say, she told the crowd. We’re interested in you being co-managers. Beam explained that Kitsap County was seeking shoreline property owners input on the matter in order to develop a workable permitting process for area residents affected by the impending ESA standards. The local meetings are just the first step in the process. However, because the Marine Science Center session turned out to be a bust – leaving many questions unanswered – a make-up meeting has been scheduled for Sept. 18 at the Keyport Naval Museum. It’s unfortunate because it ended up being a waste of time, Beam said of the Tuesday session. It was not a productive meeting at all. A smaller group would have worked, unfortunately the realtor didn’t understand that eventually we’d be getting around to all these neighborhoods. “