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II.  DESIGNATED ENVIRONMENTS

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WAC 173-26-211 states, “Master programs shall contain a system to classify shoreline areas into specific environment designations. This classification system shall be based on the existing use pattern, the biological and physical character of the shoreline, and the goals and aspirations of the community as expressed through comprehensive plans as well as the criteria in this section. Each master program’s classification system shall be consistent with that described in WAC 173-26-211 (4) and (5) unless the alternative proposed provides equal or better implementation of the act.”

WAC 173-26-211(4)(c) allows for local governments to establish a designation system, provided it is consistent with the purposes and policies of WAC 173-26-211 and WAC 173-26-211(5).

Mercer Island contains two distinct shoreline designations, pursuant to WAC 173-26-211(4)(c): urban residential, and urban park.

This system is designed to encourage uses in each environment which enhance the character of that environment. The basic intent of this system is to utilize performance standards which regulate use activities in accordance with goals and objectives defined locally. Thus, the particular uses or type of developments placed in each environment should be designed and located so that there are no effects detrimental to achieving the objectives of the environment designations and local development criteria. This approach provides an ‘umbrella’ environment class over local planning and zoning on the shorelines. Since every area is endowed with different resources, has different intensity of development and attaches different social values to these physical and economic characteristics, the enforcement designations should not be regarded as a substitute for local planning and land-use regulations.”

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