By Dave Donaldson
Legislation is moving that could lead to a long-term extension of the state’s coastal management program. That’s the program that coordinates permitting and plans for development projects. It is scheduled to close down July first unless the legislature votes before then to keep it open.
A plan developed in the House Resources Committee Monday found some agreement among Coastal Communities – who see the program as essential — and Developers – who have seen the agency as a roadblock.
The Senate Community and Regional Affairs committee has now approved similar changes and moved the bill along toward passage.
Both compromise bills establish a coastal policy board to settle disputes, they eliminate the requirement to designate subsistence areas, and they make procedural changes to alleviate coastal residents’ concerns with the current system. It allows one controversial element to stand – a section that removes the Department of Environmental Conservation from mandatory participation in the program.
The Parnell administration has not yet agreed with the changes and the extension. Deputy Natural Resources Commissioner Joe Balash says the Department is still reviewing them.
Committee Chairman Donny Olson says he’s satisfied with the compromise bill as it stands and is not aware of any further changes that need to be made.