First of all, have you picked up your limited edition 2014 city of Bonney Lake Stormwater Pollution Prevention and Water Conservation Calendar at the Municipal Justice Center? This calendar was created by students of all ages in Bonney Lake and provides information everyone can use. I am always impressed by the art and messages. I have some pages of previous calendars framed in my home office. As I flipped through this year’s calendar, I was struck by Mountain View Middle School 8th grader Britney Ornellas’ September message, “Save the fish! Keep chemicals out of Lake Tapps. Report spills at (253)447-4320.”
The city has been working on a shoreline management plan (SMP) for the Bonney Lake portion of Lake Tapps since the last year I was on the council. Pierce County has their own SMP for their part of the lake and Pierce County has to plan for all lakes and waterways in the county (not within a city). This column refers to the Bonney Lake SMP only, but all lake property owners may be interested in the Bonney Lake plan and wish to speak to your Pierce County council members on the topic after comparing the plans and processes. I understand some county lakeside residents have already done that. The city is lucky that it only has to focus on the Church Lake portion of the lake, not the waterways of an entire county.
There were a number of stakeholders involved with the advisory group I was part of. We had a public meeting. After our process, the planning commission worked on the SMP over the years and has sent invitations to lakeside property owners on two occasions to get their input at an open house and public hearing. This plan has been reviewed and rewritten many times over the past three years in an effort to get it right and strike a balance based on property owner input. Health of the lake, habitat, views and property rights have not been taken lightly.
The city SMP is only for Lake Tapps; it does not pertain to any other lakes or creeks in the city directly. The ultimate goal is healthy waters that don’t need costly treatments to remove invasive weeds. Aquatic life needs shade. Birds, frogs and other wildlife on shore need shelter. Most importantly, the outflow from the lake flows into Fennel Creek and over Victor Falls into the Puyallup River, the spawning ground for five species of salmon and important to the health of Puget Sound fisheries.
The aquifer at Victor Falls on Fennel Creek is the location of a city well that provides water for Bonney Lake. It is important to protect the Fennel Creek watershed, so indirectly, the SMP helps protect your drinking water. The purchase of the Love property across from the falls and the city well further help protect that aquifer, as will protecting what happens in Lake Tapps.
Lake Tapps is currently open year-round, including the intake canal to within 400 feet of the screen at Dingle Basin. The lake offers very good opportunities for largemouth and smallmouth bass as well as tiger muskies. There is also good fishing for yellow perch and black crappie. Bass and panfish are sustained by natural production in the lake and provide for good sport fishing. Anglers must release all tiger muskies less than 50 inches.
There was recently an article in this newspaper of Senator Pam Roach holding a 13.5 lb. common carp during a recent Department of Fish and Wildlife survey of Lake Tapps.
Water access is provided at Lake Tapps North Park in the Pierce County part of the lake and in Bonney Lake at Allan Yorke Park on the Church Lake portion of the lake.
The lake’s water level is normally down throughout the winter and early spring, which may limit boat access. Limited shoreline access remains at the public access sites.
In 1909, four natural lakes, Crawford, Kirtley, Church and Tapps, were flooded to create the Lake Tapps reservoir behind the hydroelectric power plant in Dieringer by diverting water from the White River in Buckley through flumes and basins, like Wickersham and Printz.
Benefits of shoreline management is if you own a house on the lake with a knockout view next to a vacant lot, or one ripe for redevelopment, you do not need to fear someone developing that lot and totally blocking your view. No fear of houseboats. Or houses built on piers in the water. No fear of monstrous docks that lease moorage creating congestion and pollution and reduced opportunities for party coves.
At recent Bonney Lake Planning Commission meetings the following points were discussed:
•The average setback now in Bonney Lake on Lake Tapps is 60.8 feet, and there is no change to that in this SMP.
•The measurement is not from the high water mark, but a point out in the lake, taking into consideration the low water mark. If that setback was removed, it would impact the existing homes on the lake. The SMP preserves current development patterns. That is why the setbacks are the way they are. They are structured to balance and preserve the people’s rights and allow for future development.
•Planting native vegetation allows for closer development (a tradeoff) and protects the lake environment.
•The SMP is overdue; December 31, 2011 was the deadline, which has obviously been pushed back.
•Under the proposed SMP the amount of developable area actually increases because all front and side yard setbacks are reduced because they aren’t related to shoreline protection. Current 20-35 feet front setbacks would be reduced to 10 feet and current 8 foot side setbacks would be reduced to 5 feet.
•By increasing the distance from the lake protects habitat and views by relaxing closeness to the road and between homes. Basically, you enjoy the waterfront; share the view and the lake.
•If the council does not agree to the streamline setbacks above for all properties on the lake, then only those who plant native vegetation near the shore as mentioned in 3 above gets the benefit of the streamline.
•Streamline is optional and was added based on citizen input at the open house and hearing held by the planning commission in an attempt to accommodate.
•If the city does not move forward, the State can impose their version of a SMP on the city and disregard all local input.
The planning commissioners unanimously moved to forward the SMP forward to the city council. The city council will discuss the SMP at the council workshop, 5:30 p.m., Jan. 21 at the Municipal Justice Center. The item is AB14-02 – Resolution 2297(Previously AB13-55). Read about it on the city website.
The SMP mainly concerns undeveloped or underdeveloped properties. It is the property owners right to develop or not. Those who know the history of the lake realize that it was originally developed as a vacation community; a weekend escape. There are still some of those smaller, cabin/vacation structures around the lake from that era.
I have friends who live on the lake. I enjoy seeing their pictures on Facebook, looking across the lake at the sunset, or a storm brewing from their lakeside homes. They love entertaining their friends and families at the lake. Launching their boats from their private dock and taking a run around the lake with their kids and the family dog. The SMP incorporates lakeside living, fisheries, habitat on the shore and in the water, boating activities, and recreation opportunities that is positive for all of Lake Tapps and Church Lake admirers.