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Planning Commission - Agenda     
Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Call to Order:
Chair Adam Cooper called the meeting to order at 7:32 PM in the Council Chambers, at 9611 SE 36th Street, Mercer Island, Washington. 
Roll Call:
Chair Adam Cooper, Vice-Chair Jon Friedman, Commissioners Bryan Cairns, Eric Laschever, Craig Olson, and Kristen Orndorff were present.  Council Liaison El Jahncke was present.  City staff was represented by Shane Moloney, Assistant City Attorney; Tim Stewart, Development Services Director; George Steirer, Principal Planner; and Travis Saunders, Planner.  Commissioner Steve Marshall arrived at 7:34PM.
Commissioner Orndorff motioned to approve the minutes from March 3, 2011. Commissioner Laschever seconded the motion. The Commission unanimously approved the minutes as written.
Regular Business:
Agenda Item #1: Open Record Public Hearing for a Zoning Text Amendment (file# ZTR10-001) for a proposed amendment to existing regulations related to the City of Mercer Island Shoreline Master Program.
George Steirer, Principal Planner, provided a presentation to the Commission regarding the Commission requested information from the March 2, 2011 SMP meeting.  Mr. Steirer also provided an overview of the staff response to the Department of Ecology letter enclosed in Commission packet Exhibit 6.  He then briefly described the public outreach process to date.
Chair Cooper opened the hearing to public testimony at 7:41PM.
Art Verther of 8710 85th Avenue SE provided testimony requesting that the 50 feet setback requirement for moorage facilities adjacent to public park properties allow for certain items such as boat lifts and mooring piles to be placed within the setback.
Robert Thorpe of 5800 West Mercer Way provided testimony, urging the Commission to develop regulations that focus on undeveloped and redeveloped properties, and improving environmental quality, while making the process predictable and cost effective; asking if the No Net Loss standard is clear and understandable; recommended that nonconforming boat houses not be allowed to be expand; encouraged semi-private recreation tracts; requested that scientific or geotechnical reports be done by a licensed, qualified expert for demonstration of need for stabilization measures; suggested that covered moorage facilities should be permitted in semi-private recreational tracts, as they are for single-family lots; encouraged the Commission to retain language in the SMP policy document, which states that scientific information remains incomplete and sometimes inconsistent in some areas important to Mercer Island’s development pattern; questioned the proximity of public pathways to the shoreline; suggested that the word “parks” be replaced with “recreational tracts” in the SMP policy document, page 12 paragraph 1; recommended that the language in the policy document, page 13, policy 4 regarding new overwater residential dwellings be changed from “should” not be permitted to “shall not be permitted; and recommended the term “stream” be changed to “watercourse” under section 7.5, pp. 27-28 of the SMP Restoration Plan.
Dwight Schaeffer of 6958 96th Avenue SE provided testimony regarding the lack of scientific relationship between the Lake Washington residential dock coverage and Chinook survival.  Mr. Schaeffer recommended removal of all references, regulations, and priorities related to overwater structures blocking light; recommended that boatlifts should be allowed within the first 30 feet from the shoreline; pointed out an inconsistency in water depth measurement standards related to maximum pier length: Exhibit 1, Table D states a depth of less than11.85 feet below the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM), and Exhibit 1, page 15 states a depth of less than 11.5 below the OHWM; requested that moorage piles be allowed beyond the length of a pier; requested that steel piling material requirements be more general to allow for other metal types such as aluminum and titanium; stated that priorities should be ranked by quantitative costs and benefits;  recommended that priority 4 (dock shading) should  be deleted due to high costs and little benefit; stated that the City should get water quality credit for the ecological benefit of replacement of in-lake sewer lines; expressed surprise to see the recommendation to reduce the cutthroat population; and raised a question regarding the validity of J. Kerwin studies.
Rita Moore of 4509 Ferncroft Road provided testimony regarding pier and bulk densities on Mercer Island; stated the shoreline is deficient in high quality biological resources and critical areas, due to shoreline modifications; urged improvement of ecological function of the shoreline by planting native plants along the shoreline; encouraged increasing vegetation requirements: 1st 10 feet landward from OHWM should contain 50% native vegetation, the subsequent 15 feet should require 50% vegetation with 25% being native.
Paul Von Destinon, General Manager of the Mercerwood Shore Club, 4150 East Mercer Way, provided testimony requesting that existing uses remain in place for the benefit of the club’s membership and their waterfront activities; requested that existing structures be allowed to be maintained repaired and replaced to their existing state; requested elimination City regulations that are duplicative of state or federal agencies; encouraged the City to recognize its responsibility to maximize public access to the waterfront and to protect the environment.
Huston Riley of 7436 West Mercer Way provided testimony requesting that the Shoreline Designation Map label Lincoln Landing as Mc Gilvra’s Dock, consistent with his historical knowledge of the area.
Richard Bergquist of 7244 East Mercer Way provided testimony concerning the public process; and concern regarding the Quendall site in Renton.
Barbara Nightingale, Department of Ecology, 3190 160th Avenue SE, Bellevue, WA 98007 provided testimony supplementing a letter by Ecology to the City dated March10, 201, Exhibit 6g; stated the City of Mercer Island Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) is adequate for the SMP; provided comment Ecology’s preference for the definition of Geological Report; commented on optional standards for dock, encouraging the City to review Whatcom County’s standards for when non-conforming docks must come into compliance with current regulations; requested clarification on the vegetation standard; and raised concerned about the Environment Designation Map not containing a statement for undesignated lands
Brock Howell, King County Program Director, Futurewise, 8548 2nd Avenue NE, Seattle WA 98115 provided testimony regarding the health of the water system and toxic runoff from upland property; encouraged the use of the environmental designation system to build in mitigation sequencing into the SMP;  requested the City identify and assess the ecological function of upland areas and tailor appropriate protections; requested the City maintain and improve the ecologic function of shorelines including vegetation enhancement and shoreline armoring removal; and encouraged updating stream and up wetland buffer provisions.
Emmett Maloof of 4835 Forest Ave SE provided testimony stating that the science used to determine dock width is from research of commercial docks, not residential; he urged the Commission to review the science and use common sense.
Richard Ferry of 7414 East Mercer Way provided testimony inquiring how future changes to the SMP would be identified and how interested parties would be notified as the SMP moves through its next steps.
Sue Stewart of 3205 84th Avenue SE provided testimony questioning why transit facilities are not permitted in the Urban Park Environment on page 5 (Table A) of Exhibit 1, but are permitted on page 6 (Table B); and suggested that the City change the zoning of park properties from residential  to  “parks”.
H. Eugene McBrayer 4802 East Mercer Way provided testimony, inquiring about the requirements for overwater coverage for multi-property docks.
Bruce Vanderwall of 7179 Holly Hill Drive provided testimony recommending that the size allowance of a dock be related to the size of the property.
Stephanie St Mary of 4400 East Mercer Way provided testimony agreeing with Mr. Vanderwall’s recommendation; recommended not requiring a set standard for vegetation, rather a percentage of lot based system.
Chair Cooper closed the testimony portion of the hearing at 8:27PM
The Commission deliberated, considered public testimony, and asked questions of staff.  From the deliberations, the Commission requested the following work items from staff:

  • Development of a memorandum to the City Council to summarize the record, showing how the Commission arrived at their recommendation, giving the Council a clear “roadmap” as to why the science that was heard supported the recommendation.


  • Make the staff recommended revision to remove reasonable use provisions from the SMP, making the process a shoreline variance process.


  • Review the name designation of Lincoln Landing.


  • Review Army Corp of Engineers dock width requirements


  • Delete boatlift standards from Table D of Exhibit 1


  • Revise 19.07.110(E)(2)(g) time allowance for recovery of dry land area lost by erosion from one year to two years.


  • Revise 19.07.110(B)(3) to remove “use(s)” from the provision.


  •  Delete 19.07.110(E)(2)(j)

At 9:29PM, Chair Cooper inquired if there was any party who would care to add additional comment.
Rita Moore of 4509 Ferncroft Road provided testimony recommending a requirement for a maximum pier width of 4 feet for the first 30 feet; recommended that nonconforming structures become conforming within 25 years; and recommended prohibition of covered moorage and the phasing out of covered moorages within the next 25 years
Emmett Maloof of 4835 Forest Avenue SE provided testimony requesting an exception for boatlifts; and recommended there be no change in the dock width requirements.
Greg Ashley, Ashley Shoreline Design and Permitting, 16412 NE 10th Place, Bellevue, WA 98008 provided testimony stating the Army Corp of Engineers RGP3 expired a year ago; RGP3 does not address boat lifts and does not mention boat lifts within the first 30 feet; RGP 1 addresses boat lifts, but does not prohibit them from the first 30 feet; Mr. Ashley stated that many docks on Mercer Island are 30 feet or less and would not be allowed to have a boat lift if boat lifts were prohibited within the first 30 feet from the shoreline.
Dwight Schaeffer of 6958 96th Avenue SE provided testimony recommending that mooring piles should be allowed beyond a pier.
Bruce Vanderwall of 7179 Holly Hill Drive provided testimony stating that a dock width of 4 feet is too narrow; and recommended that ADA compliance should be considered when deciding dock width.
Richard Bergquist of 7244 East Mercer Way provided testimony regarding the Quendall site in Renton.
Stephanie St Mary of 4400 East Mercer Way provided testimony requesting a “highlighting” of changes made to the draft SMP as it goes through the process.
Public comment concluded at 9:40PM.
The Commission further deliberated, considered public testimony, and asked questions of staff.  From the deliberations, the Commission requested the following additional work items from staff:

  • Revise 19.07.110(6) to clarify there is a standard process and an alternative process for new and expanded moorage facilities.


  • Review the Army Corps of Engineers RGP3 for mooring piles beyond the length of a dock.

The City Council has been reviewing an affordable housing ordinance. 
Staff Comments:
A rescheduled joint training meeting regarding quasi judicial decisions is to occur on March 23rd.  Two Commissioner terms are expiring in May.  
Planned Absences for Future Meetings:
Commissioner Friedman will be absent on April 6, 2011.
Announcements and Communications:
Next Regular Meeting: 
The next Planning Commission meeting is scheduled for April 6, 2011.
The Planning Commission meeting was adjourned at 9:58 PM.


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