Community meetings set on shoreline buffer zones in Pierce County

Pierce County will hold a series of three community meetings starting Thursday to hear public comments on proposed changes to shoreline policies, including the addition of protective buffers along Lake Tapps, Spanaway Lake and the Purdy-Key Peninsula area.

The county is proposing a 50-foot buffer along Lake Tapps and a 75-foot buffer along Spanaway Lake as part of its revised changes to shoreline policies, the first such changes in 40 years. The county has been working on the updates since 2007.

Lake Tapps residents have said the buffer could restrict or halt their ability to make improvements or build along the lake front.

The county also plans to move forward with 75-foot buffers along saltwater lots designated as residential. The new shoreline buffer would replace 50-foot setbacks on county shorelines. The buffer applies only to new construction.

A buffer is a relatively undisturbed area with vegetation that separates development from the shoreline. A setback is a less restrictive designation that permits features such as decks and gazebos.

County officials have said the proposed lake buffers were driven by recommendations from the state Department of Ecology.

The proposal also includes restrictions on saltwater dock lengths and tighter rules affecting geoduck farming, including harvesting on Henderson Bay between Purdy and Key Peninsula. Some peninsula-area residents have said the geoduck rules don’t go far enough.

The County Council’s Community Development Committee voted 3-2 to accept the revised proposal Monday before sending it out for the public’s review.

The committee is hosting the three meetings scheduled for:

 • 5:30 p.m. Thursday at North Tapps Middle School, 20029 12th St. E., Lake Tapps.

 • 5:30 p.m. March 20 at the Scandinavian Cultural Center at Pacific Lutheran University, 12180 Park Ave. S., Parkland.

 • 5:30 p.m. April 3 in the Peninsula High School Auditorium, 14105 Purdy Drive NW, Gig Harbor.

The committee also will hear public comment at 1:30 p.m. April 7 in the County-City Building, 930 Tacoma Ave. S., Room 1045. At that time the committee is expected to consider more revisions and send a proposal to the full County Council for final action on April 22.

For more information, go online to bit.ly/1kPNzjo.