Monday, January 31, 2011
Henderson Inlet Geoduck Farm, 2007. PVC tubes are covered by huge canopy nets.
The large geoduck farm shown in this photo taken in 2007 was developed before the question of the appropriateness of intensive industrial geoduck farming on fragile Puget Sound tidelands became the concern of so many people as well as the County. This Army Corp of Engineers NWP48 submission documents some of the properties in this area on Libby Road leased for geoduck farming.
This Order on Summary Judgement affirms the Thurston County Hearings Examer decision that applications for geoduck farms now require a Substantial Development Permit to go forward. It was based on two properties in the same vicinity at the photo above. Taylor Shellfish will likely appeal this conclusion by the Hearings Examiner asking for reconsideration by the County Commissioners, next (or instead) as an appeal to the State Shorelines Hearing Board, and next as an appeal to a higher court.
Summary of Order taken directly from the document:
1. The Department's summary judgment motion that the proposed geoduck operations are a "development" under the SMA because they involve "construction of a structure" is granted. The Appellants' summary judgment motion on the same issue is denied. The first ground of the administrative determinations on appeal, that the placement of tubes and netting on the beach constitutes construction of a structure and consequently a development, is upheld.
2. The summary judgment motions by the parties on whether the proposed operations are a "development" under the SMA because they involve "removal of any sand, gravel, or minerals" are denied due to the presence of genuine issues of material fact.
3. On the third ground of the administrative determinations, whether the tubes and netting serve as an obstruction on the beach, summary judgment is granted in favor of the Appellants on the issue of sediment movement: the proposed operations are not developments due to their effect on the movement of sediment. Summary judgment is not entered at this time on the other issues relating to this third ground, due to the need for further examination of the public trust doctrine and review of whether any Shoreline Hearings Board decisions address whether the "placing of obstructions" includes obstructions to marine life.
4. The effect of the above decisions is that the proposed operations are deemed "developments" under the SMA under the first ground of the administrative determinations, requiring a substantial development permit for the proposals. Thus, unless this determination is reversed, a hearing on a substantial development permit is required for the proposed operations, and the appeals of the other grounds of the administrative determinations are mooted, as well as the motion in limine.
Dated this 21st day of January, 2011.