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Shoreline plan focuses on protection of river access

Fri., April 6, 2012

Spokane Valley took another step Thursday on the long voyage to adopting a new state-mandated shoreline management program.

A handful of residents turned out for a public open house on development of goals and policies for the new shoreline management program.

It is part of a wider effort that will result in a state-approved plan for the Spokane River, Shelley Lake and other water bodies in the city. The deadline is December 2013.

Much of the public interest so far has involved protecting publicly owned shoreline, including the Centennial Trail, and providing more public access along the river. About 60 percent of the river shoreline in Spokane Valley is publicly owned, mainly by the state.

“Much of the discussion has focused on the free-flowing sections (of the river),” said John Patrouch, a consultant hired to help the city with the new plan.

Bill Abrahamse, who represents Trout Unlimited on the shoreline advisory group, said most shoreline protection is likely to be along those sections upstream from Millwood.

Lori Barlow, senior planner, said existing property owners, including those whose uses predate shoreline regulations, will be allowed to maintain their current uses.

The Legislature in 2003 set up a timetable for local governments to update shoreline programs.

The goal of the program is to maintain ecological functions over time with no net loss. Developers could restore or improve riverbank areas in exchange for development opportunities, officials said.

Bob Harris, president of the Shelley Lake Homeowners Association, said residents at the lake have been putting a lot of money and effort into restoring their shoreline, but fluctuating water levels and a limited shoreline area make that difficult.

He said residents wished they had a larger shoreline area to work with.

“We do have some chokecherries that are surviving,” he said.

A public hearing is scheduled before the Planning Commission on Thursday at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

Two weeks later, the Planning Commission will continue work on the goals and policies portion of the plan.

That proposal could be ready for City Council deliberations by later this spring, Barlow said.

Once goals and policies are set, the city would still have to develop environmental designations, regulations and a restoration plan. It also would have to address cumulative impacts of shoreline use. Whatever the city approves must have state approval.


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