Clallam County keeps shoreline consultant

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County has retained a consultant to help complete its shoreline management plan.

County commissioners voted 3-0 Tuesday to approve a waiver of bids to enter into an agreement with Seattle-based Environmental Science Associates, or ESA.

ESA will assist the Department of Community Development under a $39,850 personal services agreement with the county.

Clallam County is on the home stretch of a multi-year effort to update its shoreline plan to comply with new procedural and substantive requirements of the state Shoreline Management Act.

ESA has experience with the 1972 law and has been Clallam County’s “main consultant” for the past several years, Principal Planner Kevin LoPiccolo said Thursday.

The voter-approved Shoreline Management Act aims to “prevent the inherent harm in an uncoordinated and piecemeal development of the state’s shorelines,” according to the state Department of Ecology.

Every local jurisdiction with a shoreline is required to update its plan to achieve “no net loss of shoreline ecological functions,” Ecology has said.

Shoreline updates have spurred controversy in other jurisdictions because of restrictions on development in buffer zones and channel migration zones.

“Setbacks have changed,” LoPiccolo said of new state requirements.

“Land uses, for the most part, are pretty consistent. They want it to fit the underlying jurisdiction.”

Clallam County’s existing shoreline plan was developed in the mid-1970s.

The draft update is expected to go to the county planning commission for a public hearing in March or April, LoPiccolo said.

“They’ve seen it numerous times,” he added.

The planning commission will forward a recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners, which will hold its own public hearing on the shoreline update before making a final decision in July or August, LoPiccolo said.

Under the terms of the agreement, the consultant will:

• Revise the county’s November 2014 draft shoreline management plan by Feb. 28.

• Revise an October 2014 cumulative impacts analysis and no-net-loss report by early March.

• Prepare a State Environmental Policy Act checklist by Feb. 15.

• Help the county respond to new public comments after the commissioners’ hearing on the revised draft.

• Help the county respond to comments received by Ecology during its review of the locally adopted plan.

• Help the county respond to changes made by Ecology.

• Attend planning commission and/or commissioner meetings and work sessions to provide information and answer questions.

The hourly rate for the consultants ranges from $180 for the ESA director to $100 for an associate scientist, according to the agreement.

DCD Director Mary Ellen Winborn requested the waiver of bids in the commissioners’ work session Monday.

“We can get it done by June if we can stay on this track,” Winborn said.

Under county policy, commissioners can waive the bid requirement if the requesting official certifies and documents that the vendor is a sole source provider, county Administrator Jim Jones said.

Commissioner Bill Peach said he was eager for the county to complete the shoreline update.

He noted that the quality of data used for channel migration zones is “substantially higher” east of Lake Crescent than the West End.

“We should just tell the truth to the public,” Peach said in the work session. “It is an issue.”

Winborn said the onus fall on developers to determine the precise boundaries of channel migration zones.

She noted that there was “not a huge amount of development going on” on the West End.

“The issue that I see is that in some places, the boundaries are grossly incorrect,” Peach said.

“And so to tell a landowner, ‘Well, sorry, we know our data is grossly incorrect, but you get to go and pay for straightening it out,’ I’ve had a lot of feedback from people saying that’s not a good approach.”

Peach said he had read every comment submitted on the draft shoreline plan, which dates back to 2009.

“To actually read every single one of the comments has taken me months, literally months,” Peach said.

“And an issue that does pop up is this channel migration zone business.”

Winborn said it “wouldn’t be fair” to charge county taxpayers for a detailed analysis of channel migration zones.

“It’s just, I’m Joe Shmoe guy,” Peach said. “All I want to do is work on my barn.”

“Then you’re fine,” Winborn said. “You’ll be fine.”

Said Peach: “We’ll see how people feel when it comes out.”

The draft Clallam County shoreline management plan is available at www.clallam.net/DCD under “Shoreline Master Program.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsula dailynews.com.

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