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Shoreline plan set for August public hearing
Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci made it clear to City Council on Monday they had precious little time left to approve options for a draft shoreline management plan ahead of an August public hearing. Councilmembers passed it back to staff, confident public opinion will change it again.
The council passed forward direction to have the SMP expand public access to commercial shoreline properties that expand more than 20 percent, such as marinas and yacht clubs. Land Use Director Carol Helland told councilmembers — cautious of violating private property rights — access can be limited if security risks are present, and may also only apply to visual access in some cases.
Siding with yacht clubs and marinas, Councilmember Jennifer Robertson pointed out they do offer public access — as long as people pay for it.
Park development options
Councilmembers have heard public comment asking them to side with the city's planning commission's recommendation that Meydenbauer Beach Park — slated to be Bellevue's most expensive park redeveloped at more than $40 million — require a conditional use permit ahead of construction. The Meydenbauer Bay Neighborhood Association argues it would require a public hearing and allow residents to be more involved in its development.
The City Council decided since a master plan exists for Meydenbauer Bay Park, future construction would be dealt with through administrative permitting and does not require a CUP.
High water mark
Robertson told councilmembers they were making the wrong decision when they voted to set the high-water mark at a static elevation using the Bellevue Lake Study, which sets it at 31.8 feet, but allows for individualized assessment.
She said she spoke to a scientist who told her the study was flawed, using two standard deviations. Councilmember John Chelminiak said the state Department of Ecology will make the ultimate decision on the SMP, and the council can choose differently, but the plan may not be accepted.
"It is the latest study that has been done, and it is consistent, at least with what Sammamish set," Chelminiak said."I'm ready to vote," Robertson said. "I'm going to be an emphatic 'no' "
Setbacks, buffers and vegetation conservation
Councilmembers passed through an option to allow flexible setbacks of 50 feet, which property owners can buy down to 25 feet if they follow a string test and provide adequate vegetation conservation using set menu options.
Balducci said the planning commission recommendation for 50-foot setbacks with greenscape options would result in net loss of native vegetation, and that replacing it with lawns is not what SMP regulations should encourage.
Robertson said the commission's option should be considered, but require greenscape only be allowed for two-thirds of the area required for vegetative conservation. She said string tests and menu options requiring unsightly native vegetation goes too far.
Councilmembers agreed to move forward with the 50-foot setbacks, string test and menu options, with the understanding public comment will modify those options to lessen vegetation requirements and allow greenscape where appropriate.
"I would agree, this goes overboard," Chelminiak said.
A draft of the SMP will be developed by city staff ahead of an Aug. 4 public hearing, after which the council will direct staff again on Sept. 8 on what regulations should be submitted to the DOE for review.