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Clam Shacks of Am., Inc. v. Skagit County

ELR Citation: 18 ELR 20216
Nos. No. 53228-1, 743 P.2d 265/109 Wash. 2d 91, (Wash., 10/01/1987)

The court rules that Washington's Shoreline Management Act (SMA) authorizes local governments to require conditional use permits for shoreline activities that do not constitute "developments" as defined by the SMA. Plaintiff contends that its use of a hydraulic rake to harvest clams from mudflat tidelands is not a "substantial development" that requires a conditional use permit under the act. The court holds that regardless of whether plaintiff's activities constitute "development," they are subject to local regulation under the SMA as "uses" of the shoreline. The SMA provides that its terms are exempted from strict construction and shall be liberally construed to give effect to the goals of the statute, including the protection of the ecology and environment of the shoreline area. The statute accords special emphasis to shorelines of statewide significance, such as are involved here. Under the SMA, local governments adopt master plans to regulate shoreline "uses." To rule that local governments cannot control shoreline uses that do not amount to "developments" would frustrate the purposes of the SMA. The legislature could have clearly restricted the policy and effect of the SMA to statutorily defined "developments," but did not do so. Although the policy section of the act refers only to management of "developments" and not to "uses," the word "development" in that context must be interpreted in its common, ordinary sense, which is a gradual advance or growth through progressive changes. "Use" is the more comprehensive term, and a development will always be a use. The court also notes, although the issue is not before it, that plaintiff's harvesting activities constitute "aquaculture" subject to conditional use permit requirements under the SMA.

Counsel for Petitioner
Dennis D. Reynolds
Pressentin & Reynolds
633 Yesler Way, Seattle WA 98104
(206) 587-0066

Counsel for Respondents
Michael Rickert, Skagit County Prosecutor
Courthouse Annex, Mt. Vernon WA 98273
(206) 336-9460

Kenneth Eikenberry, Attorney General
Temple of Justice, Olympia WA 98504
(206) 753-2550