Politics & Government

County Council cancels shoreline meetings after state agrees to Lake Tapps‘ residents concerns

After years of wrangling between state and local officials, proposed tougher shoreline restrictions for Lake Tapps have been dropped, county leaders say.

The state Department of Ecology has agreed to keep a 50-foot setback between private property owners and the lake instead of imposing a more restrictive buffer, Pierce County Council Chairman Dan Roach said Tuesday.

The state made the concession in a meeting last month with members of the Lake Tapps Community Council. They had made their case for less restrictive regulations because the lake in East Pierce County is a manmade reservoir.

The state’s change of heart prompted a majority of the County Council Tuesday to cancel a series of three public meetings on the revised shoreline policies. The first was scheduled for July 10 at North Tapps Middle School. Two others were to follow in July focusing on proposed restrictions on private property on Spanaway Lake and on geoduck farming in the Key Peninsula area. The meetings are expected to be rescheduled later.

Council members want to wait to see if the Department of Ecology agrees to more concessions.

Kim Van Zwalenburg, of the Department of Ecology, said Tuesday that no final decisions have been made.

“At the moment, it sounds like a 50-foot setback is a reasonable approach for Lake Tapps,” said Van Zwalenburg, regional shoreline planner. “The Tapps community was really good at laying out the circumstances of the reservoir.”

Leon Stucki, vice president of the Lake Tapps Community Council, made that case at a meeting May 21, using photographs to chronicle the history of a lake that has no natural shoreline.

Stucki said he and other members of the Community Council were able to “wipe out the justification” for stricter regulations.

“I was pleasantly surprised when you got to the decision makers, they would listen to reason,” Stucki said. “Nothing’s a done-deal until it’s done.”

Councilman Stan Flemming, R-Gig Harbor, said he favored putting off another round of public meetings until after more sessions with the state are held and the council’s proposal is updated.

A meeting between residents who want to prohibit geoduck farming in Burley Lagoon and other areas in the Key Peninsula area is scheduled for July 15. County officials also want to have a meeting with Spanaway Lake residents and the Department of Ecology before the shoreline proposal is finalized.

The council’s decision at a study session Tuesday will delay a vote on the shoreline revisions scheduled for July 29 for at least several weeks. The revision of shoreline policies started seven years ago; they haven’t been revised in more than 40 years.

Councilman Rick Talbert, D-Tacoma, who’s in the hospital recovering from recent surgery, said in a phone interview Tuesday he disagreed with postponing the public meetings. He cautioned against expecting that the Department of Ecology will make the same types of concessions regarding aquaculture and Spanaway Lake.

“I don’t think we need to delay this yet again,” Talbert said.

But Roach, R-Bonney Lake, said it’s worth waiting.

“We are moving the ball in a big way,” he said.