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Planning & Public Works

Posted on: May 21, 2020

Policy and Guideline updates for the Pierce County Shoreline Master Program

Policy and Guideline updates for the Pierce County Shoreline Master Program

Pierce County’s Shoreline Master Program is the set of policies and regulations that implement the State Shoreline Management Act, which was adopted by voters in 1972 to ensure coordination and efficient management of activities along the State’s shorelines.

Since adoption of our new Shoreline Codes in October 2018 we have identified a few areas that need further clarification or interpretation. The administrative policies summarized below are meant to assist property owners and the industry when permitting activities in our shoreline areas.

CP2019-02: Conditional Uses and Administrative Conditional Uses not required for Normal Maintenance and Repair Projects

This policy clarifies that a conditional use permit is not required for projects within shoreline jurisdiction if the project qualifies as "normal repair and maintenance." An Exemption to Substantial Development review is still required.

CP2019-03: Normal Maintenance and Repair Projects of Septic Tanks and Drainfields

This policy clarifies that a shoreline variance will not be required for placement of septic infrastructure within a shoreline buffer when necessary to correct an existing, or failed septic system providing the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department has concluded that there are no suitable locations for the infrastructure outside the buffer. The policy also explains that replanting may be required if trees or native understory vegetation is removed.

CP2020-01: Criteria for Requiring Cultural Surveys

This policy clarifies that a cultural survey will be required for any project within shoreline jurisdiction when:

  • Located within 500 feet of known cultural or archeological resource, or
  • Situated in areas with easy access to the shoreline and within 500 feet of an estuary, lagoon, or perennial freshwater input and when the project will disturb the soil.

CP2020-02: Residential Launching Ramps

This policy clarifies that launching ramps for residential use are allowed by Title 18S. These features may not extend waterward of the Ordinary High-Water Mark, and must be consistent with applicable requirements of PCC 18S, including but, not limited to impervious surface restrictions, mitigation sequencing requirements, and buffer disturbance allowances.

Staff will continue to monitor the implementation of the Shoreline Regulations. Additional interpretive policies may be issued, if necessary, and the code will be revised as deemed appropriate

Learn more about Pierce County’s Shoreline Master Program at piercecountywa.gov/shoreline

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