Pragmatic approach to Willow Creek, Marsh | Guest View

 

Last updated 3/26/2015 at Noon

Diane Buckshnis, Edmonds City Councilmember

A number of citizens have stepped forward and asked me to provide some background and insight regarding my perspective and the Council’s decision regarding the Shoreline Master Program’s (SMP) "interim 100 foot setback/buffer for Urban Mixed Use IV."

If you are not familiar with this very important document, I suggest follow the link below that is on the city website.

As always, I have to state that this is not my area of expertise nor will it ever be; having said that, six years ago, I was placed on the Water Resource Area Inventory 8 (WRIA8) Salmon Recovery Commission, and have learned a lot during my tenure.

This group of knowledgeable, dedicated and diverse individuals (elected and environmentalists) work on a yearly plan to educate, repair and restore natural habitats for salmon recovery and have been a very successful and respected Commission.

Four years ago, Ms. Keeley O’Connell (our local environmentalists), Commissioner Bruce Faires, and I celebrated the fact that the Edmonds Marsh Restoration and the Day-Lighting of Willow Creek was placed onto WRIA8’s three-year plan.

As many of you know, I had been working to update the WRIA8 contact information and understanding that salmon can and will migrate to our Marsh, if given a proper environment.

That day, the Edmonds Marsh was now on the radar of environmentalists and governmental bodies that can create change and allow them to understand this unique fresh water to salt water estuary.

WRIA8 is extremely important as they provide the recommendation to the State and Federal granting authorities.

To date, The City of Edmonds has obtained over one-half of one million in grant funds for the design of day-lighting Willow Creek.

These grant funds came from the recommendations of the WRIA8 Salmon Recovery Council’s Grant Funding Group (which I now sit on but recuse myself on Edmonds’ funding request).

In 2012, the Council set aside $200,000 for Marsh Restoration to show our intent and the importance of repairing and restoring this wonderful wildlife habitat.

The SMP took the Council more than a year to approve as there were many discussions and deliberations regarding the Urban Mixed Use IV category and the Port of Edmonds’s interest in keeping the setback at 25 feet using the “no net loss theory."


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As Council President last year, I have to applaud the Administration, (especially Mr. Lien) for the tireless work brought forth and ensuring all the meetings with various groups were very productive.

The importance of the 100-foot setback is paramount for state and federal funding. Early last year, I was a proponent for a 100-foot setback and a 50-foot buffer.

However, after many meetings with both the Administration, Members of Ecology and WRIA8 individuals, I became convinced that the 50-foot buffer could be set within the 100-foot setback.

Therefore, my thought processes changed regarding the 100-foot buffer/setback as I also understood the no net loss theory being highlighted by the Port.

During one meeting with the Department of Ecology in which Mr. Lien, Ms. O’Connell, Ms. Bloom, Ms Petso and Mr. Pater of Ecology, and I, the idea of an "interim" designation was discussed as we had received letters from the Association of Port Authorities stating litigation would be forthcoming regarding the increased setbacks.


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Of course, we already knew of the Port of Edmonds’ position.

The reasoning for this interim concept could be viewed from the standpoint that the City of Edmonds was on a faster track for day-lighting Willow Creek and Unocal/Chevron property, which is along the day-lighting route, was scheduled for more clean-up in 2015.


Therefore the idea of an “interim designation” would allow the City to move further along the process and understand the environmental impacts more completely.

Deliberations and discussion from all Council Members are well documented in the 2013 and 2014 meetings, and Mr. Lien is a huge asset to this City for all his work on this document and patience with all parties involved.

Council’s approval of the SMP included the interim two-year designation in the Urban Mixed-Use IV zone with a 100-foot setback/buffer.

I know there are a couple of citizens that are adamant regarding the inclusion of the buffer within the setback, but again, that is why we have this interim designation.

Currently the City of Edmonds is working on the Master Planning of Marina Beach to include this very important element of day-lighting Willow Creek for riparian restoration and salmon recovery.

Citizens will be invited to the open houses to provide their input.

In regards to the 100-foot setback on the Port Property: the tennis courts and the building that houses the companies of Blue Collar Dog House, Gallaghers and American Brewery are affected.

In this regard, any further redevelopment outside of the normal footprint in those two spaces would not be possible for the next two years.

If you would like to comment to Mr. Dave Pater of Ecology here is the link and all you need to do is click on his name.

http://www.edmondswa.gov/component/rsevents/event/1277-edmonds-shoreline-master-program-public-comment-period.html?Itemid=522


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Comment period expires March 27. At the end of the comment period, staff will receive the summary and be given 45 days to respond.

 

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