Shoreline Management Program

Covington's Shoreline Jurisdiction
All development within the Shoreline Jurisdiction of the City of Covington must be consistent with the policies of the Washington State Shoreline Management Act (SMA) and the City’s Shoreline Master Program (SMP). Full provisions of the SMP can be found in the Covington Municipal Code (CMC) Chapter 16.05 and the Comprehensive Plan’s Shoreline Element.

The SMP applies to:
Aquatic Areas:
  • Rivers and streams with a mean annual flow of 20 cubic feet per second (cfs) or greater
  • Water areas and reservoirs 20 acres or larger
  • Upland areas adjacent to Aquatic Areas within 200 feet from the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM)
  • Associated wetlands (within a 100-year floodplain or with a hydrologic connection to shoreline waters)
  • FEMA floodways and up to 200 feet landward of the floodway when within the 100 year floodplain

Click to view mapCovington’s Shoreline Jurisdiction is the area within 200 feet of the OHWM, floodway, and associated wetlands of classified shorelines of the state, as adopted by the City’s SMP, and includes:

  • Pipe Lake
  • Big Soos Creek downstream of a point near the confluence with Little Soos Creek
  • Jenkins Creek downstream of the confluence with Cranmar Creek.

Requirements for all development activity within a Shoreline Jurisdiction
Any development that is not explicitly exempt under the City’s SMP, must obtain a Substantial Development Permit (SDP).  However, even if the City agrees the proposed project is exempt, the shoreline development activity must be carried out in compliance with the City’s SMP. A full description of exemptions can be found in WAC 173-27-040(2).SMP Application Form

A Shoreline Letter of Exemption (LOE) is a letter issued by the City to confirm that a proposed development is exempted from the requirement to obtain a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit as provided in WAC 173-27-040. If your project qualifies for a shoreline exemption you must obtain a Shoreline LOE from the City prior to the issuance of any other required permits for the site. The burden of proof that a development or use is exempt is the responsibility of the applicant. If exempted, the development or use is still required to comply with the goals, policies, and regulations of the City’s SMP and the SMA. A proposed development may be exempt from requirements for an SDP but may still require a variance and/or conditional use permit. A SEPA Checklist and/or critical area report may be required for a shoreline exemption. 

All development exemption requests must be part of a specific development proposal and should be submitted before you apply for any associated permits. The applicant is required to complete the shoreline development application and submit all required plans, studies and review fees.

Shoreline LOE may include conditions or other provisions placed on the proposal in order to ensure consistency with the SMA and the City’s SMP. The LOE will indicate the specific exemption provision from WAC 173-27-040 (2) that is being applied to the development and provide a summary of the City’s analysis of the consistency of the project with the SMA and the SMP.

A Shoreline Substantial Development Permit (SDP) is required for any development within the shoreline jurisdiction of which the total cost or fair market value exceeds that established by state law in RCW 90.58.030(3) (e), or any development which materially interferes with the normal public use of the water or shorelines of the state. Permit approval must be obtained before the City can issue any other required permits for the site. (See CMC 16.05.090(5)). An SDP is a Type 2 decision by the Community Development Director. The decision is appealable to the Hearing Examiner.

A Shoreline Conditional Use Permit (CUP) is required for any use, development, or substantial development that is classified as a conditional use or is not classified within the SMP. Refer to WAC 173-27-030(4) & CMC 16.05.090 (6).

A Shoreline Variance is strictly limited to granting relief from specific bulk, dimensional or performance standards as specified in the City’s SMP and pursuant to the City’s Shoreline variance review criteria in CMC 16.05.090(7).  A Shoreline CUP or Variance are a Type 3 Decision by the Hearing Examiner. A Shoreline CUP or Variances requires Department of Ecology review and approval subsequent to City approval.