[Loscho_Enews] Fwd: Changes in SEPA

Snocoheritage snocoheritage at gmail.com
Tue Aug 28 19:56:34 PDT 2012


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Please look over (below) this message about that has implications for
protecting cultural resources with new developments...See Mary Thompson's
main points and concerns over the new language.  There is an obvious need
for efficiency in the current SEPA review but  "Cultural Resources" have to
remain part of the review otherwise there is no other oversight to document
and protect these historic places.  Email me if you want to add or write a
statement of concerns about the new language.

Thanks,
Karen Prasse
President
League of Snohomish County Heritage Organization

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Mark Vessey <Mvessey at wshs.wa.gov>
Date: Mon, Aug 27, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Subject: Changes in SEPA
To: Mark Vessey <Mvessey at wshs.wa.gov>

** **

Greetings!  ****

** **

As you may know, the Washington State Legislature has been considering
various ways to reform the State Environmental Policy Act, or SEPA.  The
2012 Legislature passed Senate Bill 6406 (see References below) which
includes a directive to the Department of Ecology to modernize the rules
guiding state/local agency SEPA reviews; the purpose of the modernization
is to bring SEPA in line with current land-use planning and development
regulations, including the Growth Management Act and the Shoreline
Management Act.  ****

** **

Along with the cultural resource lead , Mary Rossi (Applied Preservation
Technologies) and Chris Moore (WA Trust for Historic Preservation), I was
recently appointed as an alternate to an Advisory Committee made up of
representatives of various interest groups, including cultural resources,
that will, over the next eighteen months, advise Ecology on two rounds of
rule updates.  The initial round of updates is to be completed by December
31, 2012, and will be focused on two specific topics:****

** **

   - Increasing the thresholds for SEPA review of minor construction
   projects under Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 197-11-800(1) and
   (23)(c); and****
   - Improving the efficiency of the SEPA environmental checklist in WAC
   197-11-960.****

 ****

A second and more comprehensive update will follow and is due for
completion on December 31, 2013.  While cultural resources are only one of
numerous environmental considerations covered under SEPA, it is the only
statewide policy framework that explicitly includes them.  As presently
implemented, SEPA provides a critical opportunity for tribes,
municipalities, organizations, and individuals to comment on the effects a
project will have on cultural resources.****

 ****

As an alternate member of the advisory committee, one of my roles is
to function as an informal liaison to others with an interest in cultural
resources.  Given this role, I am reaching out to you with a commitment to
keep you apprised of the committee’s work and to solicit feedback regarding
your concerns.  I welcome any comments/suggestions/insight you have
regarding the manner in which SEPA is currently implemented, areas where it
might be improved, functions you feel it is imperative to retain, and any
other thoughts on SEPA you may have.****

 ****

*Please send  any comments you may have, particularly as they relate to the
two bulleted topics above, at your earliest convenience to
marythompson1 at comcast.net.*  In the meantime, an update of the first of
 the three meetings currently scheduled (August 14, September 11, and
October 2) is below.  Thank you very much for your consideration and
involvement!****

** **

*References:*****

Senate Bill 6406 - http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=6406***
*

Ecology's Summary of SB 6406 -
http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/sepa/legislation_2012.html****

Ecology's SEPA Rulemaking Advisory Committee -
http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/sepa/rulemaking/AdvisoryCommittee.html***
*

Ecology's SEPA homepage -
http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/sepa/e-review.html****

** **

** **

*August 14 Meeting*

** **

For complete meeting materials, including the Agenda, Committee Roster, and
discussion documents, please visit *Ecology's SEPA Rulemaking Advisory
Committee webpage* at
http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/sepa/rulemaking/AdvisoryCommittee.html
Ecology will be posting minutes and future meeting materials here, as well,
so check back often.****

** **

Ecology intends to conduct an open rule making process.  The following are
ways you can participate:  SEPA listserv (sign up at
http://listserv.wa.gov/cgi-bin/wa?A0=ECOLOGY-SEPA-UPDATES); Advisory
Committee outreach; attend or call in to Committee meetings.****

** **

Following brief introductions and a review of the proposed ground rules,
each interest group was invited to deliver a brief (no more than 5
minutes), informal statement of interests.  Mary Thompson and I relayed the
following main points:****

- "Cultural resources" is a broad term that includes various types of
resources, including above-ground (e.g. historic buildings), below-ground
(e.g. buried archaeological sites), and tribal (e.g. tribal traditional
cultural properties, or TCPs)****

- SEPA serves as an important mechanism for notification of proposed
projects****

- Not all local jurisdictions use the Growth Management Act (GMA) or the
Shoreline Management Act (SMA) to plan for cultural resources****

- Projects should be reviewed for possible impacts to cultural resources;
tools like the State's online database (WISAARD) and on-the-ground
survey/assessment can be used****

- SEPA Officials should conduct the review or seek assistance from a third
party, such as DAHP, tribes, and/or CRM professionals****

- SEPA Officials can require on-the-ground surveys via permit conditions,
while third party reviewers can only recommend such measures****

- Advisory Committee members representing the Cultural Resources interest
group (i.e. Mary Thompson, Chris Moore, and me) are not qualified to
represent tribal concerns but they should be part of the discussion****

- Very little cultural resource survey has been completed making SEPA
review a project-by-project task****

** **

Following a review of the proposed schedule (draft rule must be filed by
October 24) and a description of the legislation (see Ecology's Powerpoint
presentation at
http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/sepa/rulemaking/pdf/sb6406_overview_august2012.pdf
), *discussion centered around the document entitled Discussion Framework
for Increasing SEPA Optional Maximum Thresholds (
http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/sepa/rulemaking/pdf/draft_framework.pdf)*
.****

** **

Some of the pertinent points of the Framework discussion were:****

- SB 6406 directed the rule making to streamline regulatory process while
maintaining environmental protections****

- Actions shall be limited to those which do not significantly affect the
quality of the environment****

- Rule making should eliminate paperwork, duplication, and delay****

- Ecology will consult its Assistant Attorney General in order to determine
if the maximum thresholds for all types of projects listed (pg 1) must be
increased****

- SEPA language should frame decisions for local jurisdictions, not decide
things for them****

- Sub-committee discussions may be needed for certain topics (e.g.
notification, exceptions [pg 2], and findings required for higher exemption
levels) [conference calls have now been scheduled, see Action Items below]**
**

- Data sharing and cultural resources - does anyone look at the data, and
if so, can they interpret it?  DNR suggestion: could point to the data
(e.g. WISAARD) in the SEPA rules****

- If streamlining SEPA with other land use ordinances (e.g. GMA, SMA), some
interests, including cultural resources, may fall through the cracks as
local jurisdictions haven't planned for them****

- Proposal to add a sentence after "A newly established exempt level shall
be supported by local conditions, including zoning or other land use plans
or regulations" (pg 3) that says you can't raise the exempt level unless
you have a local ordinance protecting everything [including cultural
resources]****

- Differing levels of sophistication (e.g. land use planning) across the
State a concern ****

** **

*Action Items* were as follows:****

- Ecology has proposed a chart to replace the written description of the
maximum optional thresholds (see pg 4 of the Framework document).  Each
interest group and Ecology is to propose numbers for the last 4 columns
which represent the 4 locations/settings to be considered (see pg 1).
 Results are to be shared with the entire Committee and Ecology at least
one week prior to the Sept. 11 meeting (target date is Sept. 2).****

- Conference calls on certain topics have been scheduled as follows:
 Notifications (Monday, August 20, 3:30-5:00pm); Exceptions (either
Tuesday, August 21 or Wednesday, August 22, 2:00-4:00pm); Findings
(Thursday, August 23, 3:00-5:00pm).  The call-in number is 1-888-285-5785
and the participant PIN is 6894884#****

** **

Please feel free to share your comments/suggestions, either with me or with
Ecology (fran.sant at ecy.wa.gov), so they can be reported to the entire
Advisory Committee at the next meeting on Tuesday, September 11.  Thank you
very much for your interest and involvement!****

** **

** **

Mary Thompson****

(360) 481-5274****

marythompson1 at comcast.net****

* *

* *

** **

** **



-- 
Karen Prasse
League of Snohomish County Heritage Organizations
info at snocoheritage.org
www.snocoheritage.org
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