Greetings Interested Parties,



As the Locally Approved SMP (LA-SMP) continues through the State review process, many Jefferson County residents and land owners have been tuning in for the first time in this nearly 5-year process.  There seems to be a mix of facts and rumors circulating through our community.  We want citizens to be well informed as they form opinions and potentially provide comments on the proposed update to the existing Shoreline Master Program (SMP). 


For your convenience, here are links to some informational publications:

·         WA Dept of Ecology website about the State review process of our LA-SMP

·         WA Dept. of Ecology website of Frequently Asked Questions

·         WA Dept of Ecology Blog ECOconnect with postings about SMPs and related issues (e.g. non-conforming structures; rebuilding after damage; erosion prevention)

·         Jefferson County Legal Counsel Frequently Asked Questions handout

·          Jefferson County Legal Review on Takings handout

·         Jefferson County Buffer Science Summary handout



As a reminder, the LA-SMP is not currently in effect.  Once final adoption is complete, the new SMP will apply to new shoreline use and development and will not make properties unbuildable.  Some key points to consider – if the LA-SMP is adopted as proposed:


Existing Homes that become Non-Conforming:

·         Won’t have to be relocated to comply with the new standard buffer – existing structures are ‘grandfathered’;

·         You can keep mowing your lawn, tending your garden & landscaping like always;

·         Will be allowed to rebuild on the same location if damaged by fire etc.

·         May be allowed to expand/enlarge the footprint if certain criteria are met –

o   minor expansion with only an administrative shoreline exemption approval,

o   moderate expansion with a conditional use permit;

o   substantial expansion with a shoreline variance approval.


New Homes:

·         Must locate outside standard buffer, or adjust the buffer with one of the 6 options provided

·         Single family homes will be allowed on non-conforming lots that are too small for the standard buffer

·         Will be allowed along Natural designated shorelines, where currently prohibited


Buffers & Shoreline Designations:

·         Standard buffers of 150’ (marine and rivers) and 100’ (lakes) are proposed along with 6 options to adjust the buffer if criteria are met.  The current Critical Areas Ordinance already requires a 150’ buffer along fish & wildlife habitat and Type ‘S’ streams.

·         Buffers are based on 1) State requirements and 2) review of science as documented in the 2008 Final Shoreline Inventory & Characterization Report

·         The buffer area is not a complete ‘no-touch’ zone –

o   20% can be active use (i.e. lawn, pathway, garden/landscaping)

o   Some vegetation trimming/removal will be allowed for views

o   Water dependent uses/structures (e.g. boating facilities) can be located in the buffer if criteria are met

o   Single family homes will not be forced to allow the public on your property

·         Shoreline Environment Designations allow the regulations to be tailored to actual conditions so that sensitive areas get the most protection for natural resources.  Two shoreline designations generally apply – one for the on-land portion and one for the in-water portion.

o   On land the 4 options are Natural, Conservancy, Shoreline Residential, and High Intensity

o   In the water the 2 options are Aquatic or Priority Aquatic

·         What do the shoreline designations mean?

o   Check the maps to see what designations apply to your area

o   Look at the Article 4 Allowed Use Table for a ‘quick glance’ overview of what’s allowed/prohibited based on the designation

o   Read the details in Articles 6, 7, and 8 for specific criteria and standards


And as always, if you have questions contact Jefferson County DCD or WA Dept of Ecology.


Best regards,



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Michelle McConnell, Associate Planner - LRP Lead


Jefferson County Department of Community Development

Long Range Planning Division

621 Sheridan St., Port Townsend, WA 98368


MAIN  360.379.4450        DIRECT 360.379.4484        FAX 360.379.4473



OFFICE OPEN:  9:00 a - 4:30 p Monday - Thursday; Closed Friday


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