Planning Environments

In order to plan and effectively manage shoreline resources, Snohomish County has developed a system of categorizing shoreline areas as part of its master program. This system is designed to provide a uniform basis for applying policies and use regulations within distinctively different shoreline areas. To accomplish this, the environmental designations to be given any specific area will be based on the existing development pattern, the biophysical capabilities and limitations of the shoreline being considered for development, and the goals and aspirations of the public.

The system to be utilized in Snohomish County is based upon the recommendations and requirements of the Shoreline Management Act's Final Guidelines (WAC 173-16-040(4)). This system classifies the county's shorelines into five basic and distinct environments: natural, conservancy, rural, suburban, and urban) which provide the framework for implementing shoreline policies and regulatory measures.

Enhancing the Character of the Environment

This system is designed to encourage uses in each environment which enhance the character of that environment. At the same time, the county will place reasonable standards and restrictions on development so that such development does not disrupt or destroy the character of the environment.

The basic intent of this system is to utilize performance standards which regulate use activities in accordance with goals and general development policies previously developed as part of the Master Program. Thus, the particular uses or type of developments placed in each environment must be designed and located so that there are no effects detrimental to achieving the objectives of the environment designations and other Master Program Development Criteria.

An Umbrella Environment

This approach provides an umbrella environment class over present and future county land use planning and zoning on the shorelines. Since every area of the county as well as the remainder of the state is endowed with different resources, has different intensity of development and attaches different social values to these physical and economic characteristics, the environment designations should not be regarded as a substitute for on-going county, and municipal planning and land use regulations.