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J.E. “Sam” Ryan, CBO

5280 Northwest Drive
Bellingham, Washington 98226
Telephone: (360) 676-6907

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Prior to filing for a shoreline permit, applicants should contact the County to schedule a pre-application conference.  The Shoreline Administrator may waive the requirement for a pre-application conference if it is determined to be unnecessary for review of an

application.  The purpose of the pre-application conference is to review and discuss the application requirements with the prospective applicant and provide initial comments on the development proposal. 

Permit Types

There are three types of shoreline permits administered by the Shoreline Management Program; Shoreline Substantial Development, Variance, and Conditional Use.  None of the shoreline permits may take the place of any other required permit. 

Substantial Development Permit  - Required for all proposed use and development of shorelines unless the proposal is specifically exempted.  An exemption from the substantial development permit process is not an exemption from compliance with the Shoreline Management Act of 1971 or this Shoreline Management Program, or from any other regulatory requirements. 

Variance - The purpose of a variance is to grant relief to specific bulk or dimensional requirements set forth in this Program and any associated standards appended to this Program such as critical areas buffer requirements where there are extraordinary or unique circumstances relating to the property such that the strict implementation of this Program would impose unnecessary hardships on the applicant/proponent.

Conditional Use Permit - Other uses not specifically classified or set forth in this Program may be authorized as conditional uses provided the applicant proponent can demonstrate that the proposal will satisfy certain criteria set forth in this Program, and that the use clearly requires a specific site location on the shoreline not provided for under the Program, and extraordinary circumstances preclude reasonable use of the property in a manner consistent with the use regulations of this Program. 

SEPA - Most developments requiring a permit under this Program will also require review for compliance with the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).  The Whatcom County SEPA Administrator can advise applicants whether a SEPA checklist will be required.  If the checklist is required, it must be submitted at the same time as the shoreline permit application.

Costs associated with shoreline permits can be found on the applicable shoreline application.