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Shoreline Master Plan

House on Lake

Since the early 1970s, the Washington State Shoreline Management Act (SMA) has required that jurisdictions develop shoreline management programs for areas with significant shorelines.

Washington State, in partnership with Department of Ecology (DOE), requires cities with areas designated as “Shorelines of the State” update their Shoreline Master Program in accordance with the Washington State Shoreline Management Act and the State Shoreline Master Programs Guidelines.   

In July 2007, the City of Covington obtained a grant from DOE to conduct a comprehensive Shoreline Master Program (SMP) update.  As a result, the city inventoried the city’s shorelines and developed goals, policies and regulations for any new development along city’s shorelines. The goals and policies were developed with the help of an Ad Hoc Advisory Committee that included property owners along Jenkins Creek, Soos Creek, and Pipe Lake, members of the Planning Commission and Parks and Recreation Commission, a representative from Soos Creek Water & Sewer District, an area homeowner association member, and a member of the business community.

In March 2011, the City Council forwarded the finalized draft of the SMP to DOE for their approval (Ordinance No. 05-11).  In April 2011, DOE adopted the City of Covington’s Final Shoreline Master Program.  

Shoreline of the State

A shoreline of the state is defined as:  All streams with an average annual flow greater than 20 cubic feet per second and their associated wetlands; or lakes greater than 20 acres and their associated wetlands. Marine shorelines are also included.

In Covington, three areas have been designated as areas within a shoreline jurisdiction, as shown on this map:

    1. Pipe Lake,
    2. The lower reaches of Jenkins Creek, and
    3. The lower reaches of Big Soos Creek.

Development within the shoreline jurisdiction

Any development within 200 feet of a shoreline jurisdiction area that is not explicitly exempt under the city’s SMP, must obtain a Substantial Development permit (SDP).    The city has adopted the exemptions as listed by the state in WAC 173-27-040, and as subsequently amended.  If your development is listed as an exemption, you are required to obtain a Shoreline Exemption permit. 

Some uses as identified in the SMP require a Conditional Use Permit.  The use may be approved, provided that the applicant demonstrates all of the use criteria, as listed in the SMP and WAC 173-27-160.  Requests for a variance from the shoreline regulations is strictly limited to granting relief to a specific bulk dimension or performance standard as required in the SMP where there are extraordinary or unique circumstances. Shoreline Conditional Use and variance permits must be reviewed and approved by DOE.

More information and submittal requirements for obtaining any of these permits are provided on the
 Shoreline Permit Application