Toppenish Shoreline Master Program: periodic review

Public comment requested – Jan. 3 – Feb. 2, 2022

Toppenish’s comprehensive update to their Shoreline Master Program (SMP) went into effect in 2010. The proposed amendment is needed to comply with the statutory deadline for a periodic review of the Toppenish SMP pursuant to RCW 90.58.080(4). Toppenish has reviewed their SMP and has proposed amendments that will bring the SMP in compliance with requirements of the Shoreline Management Act and state rules, and reflects changes in circumstances, new information, and improved data.

Through this SMP update, the city took the opportunity to remove extraneous elements and language that are not relevant to the city. In 2008, the city adopted the Yakima County regional comprehensive SMP. This regional SMP contained many elements not applicable to the city’s shorelines. Removal of these items greatly streamlined the document for city staff and applicants. In addition, updates to obsolete or incorrect citations and references and the correction of typographical or grammatical errors, the following specific SMP sections are proposed to be amended.

Periodic review checklist - The city made many changes to the SMP based on the periodic review checklist to ensure consistency with legislative amendments made since SMP adoption. In general, these changes to the SMP are minor in nature. These amendments address revised rules regarding SMP applicability, including updated exemption thresholds and definitions. The city clarified regulations in the SMP by following our guidance on regulating nonconforming uses, structures, and development.

Integration and consistency of Critical Areas Ordinance - The city currently regulates critical areas within shoreline jurisdiction through critical areas regulations embedded within the current SMP. These shoreline critical areas regulations are based upon the Yakima County regional SMP which was last updated in 2010.  Since the time of SMP adoption in 2010, the city prepared a city-specific Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO). The city’s (CAO) was prepared in accordance with our Publication No. 14-06-030, “Washington State Wetlands Rating System for Eastern Washington.” With this periodic review, the city proposes to eliminate the existing critical areas sections and incorporate their current CAO into the SMP, but with some minor adjustments to maintain consistency with SMP administrative procedures.

Other changes - Several other issues in the current SMP are addressed as part of the periodic update process to produce more effective SMP regulations and document administration. These other issues, identified by staff, include removing extraneous and irrelevant sections. The city removed all references to Yakima County Comprehensive Plan Policies; removed references to the Yakima County Critical Areas Ordinance, and removed all references to shoreline and areas outside of city limits and the Urban Growth Area. 

Toppenish has opted to use the standard review process for SMP amendments, pursuant to WAC 173-26-100. Toppenish locally adopted this amendment on Aug. 9, 2021, and submitted it to us on Nov. 2, 2021. We determined their submittal to be complete on Nov.18, 2021. Following the comment period, we will compare Toppenish’s proposed amendment to the requirements of the Shoreline Management Act and the Shoreline Master Program Guidelines. Based on the comparison, we will decide whether to:

  • Approve the program as is.
  •  Approve with recommended changes.
  • Send the proposed program back to the city with required changes to meet statutory and rule requirements. Recommended changes may also be included with the required changes.

Submit written comments and questions to:

Lennard Jordan
Washington Department of Ecology
Central Regional Office
1250 West Alder Street
Union Gap, WA 98903

Comments must be received no later than Feb. 2, 2021.

Documents for public review and comment

Next Steps: response to public comment and decision

A summary of comments will be posted here a few weeks after the comment period closes. We will also post the Toppenish response to comments and a notice of our decision when they become available. Please check back.