Shoreline Management Update
November 16, 2013
By law, shoreline regulations must be updated every eight years. If the DOE gets their way, the regulations will get more and more restrictive and there will be no compensation for the loss in property values as a result of the regulations and restrictions.
The Department of Ecology’s Stronghold
To comply with the DOE, Pierce County is proposing a 50-foot buffer along shorelines. A buffer would consist of natural vegetation between the shoreline and any development, like a house. If a tree falls within the buffer, the property owner would not be permitted to remove it. It would have to be left to decay naturally. Eventually, water lovers would have to fight their way through the weeds, brambles and rotting stumps to reach the water.
Right now, if you have waterfront property that already has improvements on it, like a dock, bulkhead, landscaping, etc. there is no immediate change. If the proposed regulations are passed and your bulkhead, dock, etc. is in need of repair or replacement, it will require an application for a permit, which may or may not be granted. If approval to maintain a structure is not approved, the structure will fall apart and the shoreline will eventually revert back to its original state, which in the case of Lake Tapps never really was natural, so who knows what its natural state should be.
Property owners who are planning on building on a lot, or remodeling a cabin, are advised to get their permits now, before it is too late.
The proposed restrictions and regulations would not only impact shoreline property owners, but all who access lakes, rivers, sounds, etc. via public and community beaches, as well. All salt water and fresh water, including lakes, rivers and streams are subjected to the shoreline regulations, as are all counties and cities with shorelines within their boundaries.
Quote from Chuck Romeo, LTCC president -
“First of all what is the benefit of what they are proposing? When I bought my lot in 1965 it was overgrown with brush, dead trees and the lakefront was full of debris consisting of garbage and leaves and much more. I had my lot bulldozed and cleared, planted grass, put in a waterfall and pulled the garbage out of the lake and it looks a hell of better now than when it was natural. In the years that I have lived here the lake and lakefront has never looked better. Like they say if it ain’t broke, leave it alone. I cannot see anything positive to what they are proposing.” - Chuck Romeo, President, Lake Tapps Community Council
How the Community Can Help
The Lake Tapps Community Council, Senator Pam Roach and Councilman Dan Roach are asking people to write to their elected officials and the Department of Ecology to make them aware of their concerns. Time is of the essence to get your concerns heard. The council will probably vote on the new shoreline regulations shortly after the New Year.
Saving Lake Tapps property rights is subject of Nov. 14 meeting
LAKE TAPPS…State Sen. Pam Roach and Pierce County Councilman Dan Roach invite property owners to meet Thursday, Nov. 14, to learn of possible adverse action the Department of Ecology wants to take which will extend buffers along the Lake Tapps shoreline.
The public meeting will start at 7 p.m. at Dieringer Heights Elementary School, 21727 34th St. E. in Lake Tapps.
“This meeting is an action alert," said Sen. Roach, R-rural Auburn. "DOE is actively seeking to prohibit land use in more than 100 shoreline lots and prohibit additions on many underdeveloped lots which are currently only summer cabins," she added.
Councilman Roach stated, "If a 50-foot shoreline buffer becomes 75 feet, or 100 feet, an entire lot can be rendered useless. Family investments would be lost and DOE has no plans to compensate for those losses.
“It’s important to learn what’s coming and why, and how people can respond,” said Roach, a Bonney Lake resident.
The Lake Tapps Community Council has been preparing for the forum and will take part in the proceedings. South Prairie residents are invited to attend as upcoming restrictions are planned by DOE along undeveloped creekfront lots in South Prairie as well.
Towns, cities and counties across the state are updating their shoreline master programs to comply with Ecology regulations. Locally, Buckley and Wilkeson have completed the process; South Prairie and Sumner are awaiting Ecology’s endorsement of locally approved changes, and Bonney Lake is still working on updates at the city level.
For more information, click Shoreline Management.
The Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) has worked on updating Washington State’s Shoreline Regulations for the past few of years. They have given grants to counties to write their own regulations that reflect policies developed and approved by DOE. Pierce County has been working on its regulations for about two years.
Recently, DOE rejected Pierce County’s last draft document. One of the reasons was because it excluded Lake Tapps from the proposed regulations. DOE insisted that Lake Tapps was added back into the Shoreline Regulations. Consequently, Lake Tapps land owners will be subject to 75 foot setbacks, dock limitations, bulkhead restrictions, building additions requirements/restrictions, and vegetation rules, etc.
The Pierce County Council’s Community Development Committee has held a number of hearings on the issue and recently referred the document back to the Planning Commission for some amendments, etc. The Planning Commission acts as a citizens advisory board to the County Council.
John Millan is our (District #1) representative on the commission. His contact information is: Phone: (253) 217-7751; email: email@example.com
Deirdre Wilson, Senior Planner, (253) 798-3713
Pierce County Council’s COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
Meets first and third Mondays, 1:30 p.m.
Rick Talbert, Chair
Douglas G. Richardson, Vice Chair
Stan Flemming, Member
Connie Ladenburg, Member
Jim McCune, Member
Jenifer Schultz, Committee Clerk, 798-6696
The Community Development Committee shall consider and make recommendations on matters including, but not limited to: Building, Current Use Assessment, Environmental Issues, Growth Management, Parks, Planning, Shorelines, and Zoning.
2013/14 winter, spring lake level announcement from Cascade and the Lake Tapps Community Council
October 1, 2013 - Cascade Water Alliance and the Lake Tapps Community Council announce that the fall drawdown of Lake Tapps will begin about November 1. Until then, Cascade will maintain the lake at the lower end of the recreational range (approximately 541-542 feet.)
Beginning about November 1, the lake will be quickly lowered to approximately 539 feet by mid-November. The lake will be fully dawn down after the holidays to approximately 536 feet. The lake will begin to be refilled in late February, with a full recreational pool level to be reached by approximately mid-April.
Anyone choosing to do work during this period must obtain the appropriate permits from Pierce County, the City of Bonney Lake, and the state if required. To obtain a Cascade permit, visit
All paperwork must be completed prior to beginning of construction.
In 2009, the Lake Tapps Community Council and Cascade Water Alliance established long term agreements ensuring consistent, seasonal lake levels every year. This announcement is being made in accordance with these agreements.
Further, as per the agreements, Cascade will raise the lake to the allowable 543 foot level at least once per year to ensure homeowners recognize where this level is for future planning.
For more information on the lake levels visit www.cascadewater.org/lake_tapps_recreational_lake_levels and www.laketappsnews.org
For additional information on Cascade’s Lake Tapps agreements visit www.cascadewater.org/lake_tapps_agreements
Community unites for a Swimsafe summer in 2013
September 24, 2013 – Following a 2012 summer that saw three deaths on Lake Tapps, the surrounding cities, first responders, school districts and Cascade Water Alliance, owner of the lake, came together to take steps to help swimmers and boaters who enjoy recreation on Lake Tapps and other area waterways stay safe this summer in a campaign called Swimsafe. Their efforts paid off – there were no deaths reported this summer season.
“We take safety issues seriously and implemented improvements to our parks including new signage and community outreach to enhance safety as well as improve park users’ experiences” says City of Bonney Lake Mayor Neil Johnson. “Especially gratifying this year was working with seventh grade students from North Tapps Middle School who took water safety on as their own project after tragically losing a friend and fellow student to drowning in 2012.”
The City of Bonney Lake, Pierce County, East Pierce Fire and Rescue, Bonney Lake Police Department, Sumner School District, Dieringer School District and Cascade Water Alliance worked together to take steps to promote a Swimsafe summer. The agencies met regularly to develop strategies and a community education program designed to promote water safety.
“The Lake Tapps community stepped up to bring hope out of tragedy by creating a multi-layer drowning prevention campaign to help swimmers and boaters,” said Jerry Thorson, Chief, East Pierce Fire and Rescue.“Seeing no water related deaths this summer means something is working,” he adds, “but this must be an ongoing campaign for all of us.”
This summer, Bonney Lake police officers conducted safety ramp inspections, patrolled the waters, and provided a water safety course to the kids in the Sumner and Dieringer School Districts. Pierce County has dedicated a memorial to those lost on the lake. And, East Pierce Fire and Rescue stepped up their life jacket loaner program.
Additionally, seventh grade students at North Tapps Middle School explored various measures to improve water safety on Lake Tapps and came up with their own ideas for at Allan Yorke Park, which they presented to Mayor Neil Johnson in April. Mayor Johnson gave the go-ahead to the students and the memorial was dedicated on May 20 and completed in June.
“Our students were moved to act to prevent more deaths on the lake. The memorial serves both to honor those lost and as a reminder that water safety is essential.” said Dieringer School District Superintendent Dr. Judy Neumeier-Martinson. “We’re very proud of the actions the students took to address this serious problem. Their efforts are making a real difference.”
Learn more about Swimsafe programs and promotions by visiting these websites:
City of Bonney Lake
East Pierce Fire and Rescue
Cascade Water Alliance
Dieringer School District
Sumner School District