Standing Room Only in Meeting Room A

Nov 4, 2011 | 19 comments

The Cannery at Oysterville, circa 1945

     I counted seventy-six in the audience at the Planning Commission hearing last night.  When all was said and done, it looked as though 73 of us were there to support the endeavors of Dan Driscoll and Oysterville Sea Farms.  That left three in opposition.
     They are a formidable threesome.  Their ‘leader’ mentioned that people have called him a “bully.”   I can attest to that.  He was called a bully back in the 1940s when he was my classmate at Ocean Park School.  I think that “zealot” might be a better term these days.  I wondered how many people in the audience have gone head-to-head with him over the years.  I certainly have.  And now his sights are set upon a member of his own family.  Not a pretty picture.
     At issue last night was Dan’s retail business – specifically his recent and very successful service of clam chowder and beer and wine on the deck of his business.  “Against the zoning laws,” according to the opposition who talked long and loud about protecting the water quality in the bay.  Yet they couldn’t be specific about how or why Dan’s business could possibly have a negative impact.
     Instead they used terms like “a slippery slope” and talked about the dire aspects of development on the shores of Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound.  To listen to them talk, we in Pacific County are only steps away from a bayshore lined with Wallmarts and lumber mills and Silicon Valley factories.  It all hinges on Oysterville Sea Farms, they said.
     While the opposition was narrow in their focus, Dan’s supporters covered a wide spectrum.  The business community of Ocean Park was represented.  Both port managers spoke. People involved in historic preservation spoke.    Members of Dan’s immediate family spoke.  They pointed out the positive impact Oysterville Sea Farms has had on tourism, on economic development, on adding to knowledge and understanding about our bay. Dan’s employees spoke about the very real impact of closing down his retail business is having on local job opportunities.
     A scientist who has been studying the water quality of our bay for ten years spoke, and to me his testimony was the most telling of all.  Basically, he said that there is nothing to save the bay from these days – the thriving communities and businesses that once added to our economy here are gone.  Even the native species in the bay are gone. Our chances of maintaining and developing a sustainable economy have been severely curtailed over the years.
     I’m sure others in the audience were left wondering whether the zealous protection of water quality in the bay has, in fact improved life for the rest of us.  Or, have the self-interests of a few been supported for too long at the expense of the community at large?
     And, in the end, what will the recommendation of the Planning Commission be?  Will they, once again, go along with the few?  Or will they see a larger picture this time and find a way for Oysterville Sea Farms to continue?  And, can Dan hold out long enough for the decision to be made?  We wonder and we worry…

19 Comments

  1. Tammy Barker

    I work here local for A.L. Insurance Group/ Tammy Barker Insurance Agency next to the Chamber office. I am a supporter of Dan and he knows that. I feel you are right on the money. Had I not been sick yesterday I would have attended the meeting in his behave. I am hopeful the county will rule in his favor. I just would like to know if the rumor that the Sheldon’s are planning to open a store is true. Do you know anything about that and if so what type of store it is going to be.

    Reply
    • sydney

      I haven’t heard anything about such a possibility. That would put an interesting spin on things, though, wouldn’t it?

      Reply
  2. Frank lehn

    Excellent! Thank you!

    Reply
  3. Patricia Webber

    Thank you, Sydney.

    Reply
  4. Stephanie Frieze

    It’s not like any suggested that WalMart move into Oysterville.

    Reply
    • sydney

      No, not specifically in Oysterville. The implication was that the bay shoreline (all the way around) would be soon lined with Walmarts, factories, restaurants, etc. if Dan was allowed to proceed.

      Reply
  5. John Adams

    Diana and I had another meeting to attend, so we were unable to stay through the whole meeting. I think Dan has done a great job with his business and should be allowed to continue. He was a good customer that Harmony Soapworks has lost, an example of the ripple that this has caused for other local businesses. We’re hoping for a good outcome from the planning commission.

    Reply
    • sydney

      Ditto “Mrs. Stevens’ ABCs.” I wonder how many artists, artisans, and craftspeople will be affected by Dan’s retail closure.

      Reply
  6. Vivian Wattum

    Well written, thanks Sydney.

    Reply
  7. Marilyn Sheldon

    Congratulations Sydney you have officially made me furious enough to respond. How kind of you to suggest “zealot” might be a better representation of my caring esteemed father -in-law than the term “bully” you so loosely threw out to begin with. From Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary: bully 1. Archaic a : SWEETHEART b : a fine chap 2. a : a blustering browbeating fellow; esp: one habitually cruel to others weaker than himself b : the protector of a prostitute : PIMP 3 : a hired ruffian. As a fellow educator I am sure you are aware of the extreme damage the word “bully” implies. My son had the unfortunate experience of having a school employee call him a bully, of course I immediately investigated this only to find that this term was loosely thrown out because when he felt an unfairness had occurred on the playground instead of sitting on the steps and sulking or calmly telling an adult he got angry and being one of the loudest and biggest kids on the playground him being angry, no matter what the reason, was unacceptable. In today’s ultrasensitive world the definition of a bully is simply “one habitually cruel to others weaker than himself” and everyone reading this knows this is not and has never been an accurate depiction of my father-in-law, especially those who take into consideration the fact that it was him who went and towed Dan’s boat in after the 2007 blow, reading Dan’s account of this will further reveal the fact that his quick “blustering browbeating” words, along with Dan’s willingness to listen, saved Dan from possibly losing a hand that day. Additionally, this “bully” is the same man who attempted to work with Dan for over a month (May 2011) to resolve this issue amicably before the issue was ever brought to the County. Furthermore, it is irresponsible to perpetuate rumors via this medium. For anyone to imply that any Sheldon is pushing the demise of OSF in order for themselves to open up a store proves to me that those involved do not know the Sheldon’s at all and have no interest in attempting to do so. In fact it is downright mean, spiteful, and hurtful. My husband and I have ENCOURAGED Dan for 10 years to open a seafood market/ restaurant/ whatever he wants in a properly zoned prime location and TO FARM OYSTERS AND USE HIS CANNERY AND OYSTER HOLDINGS TO HIS ADVANTAGE AS ALLOWED BY LOCAL, STATE, AND FEDERAL LAW. In that time we have watched successful restaurant/seafood markets open in Klipsan and downtown Long Beach, either one of these could have been Dan. All these years we have consciously avoided even participating in Saturday markets, all to avoid competing with Dan and not ruffling any family feathers. Dan chose to knowingly put his business and employees in jeopardy, we never influenced him to make this choice. In addition my husband and I have repeatedly spent our own personal funds and time to travel to Olympia to attend Dept. of Health meetings in order to defend Dan and assure he is being treated fairly and by the rules, despite the fact that in our heart we knew if he would simply update some of his harvest practices, like all the rest of us have had to do, many of his Dept. of Health problems would go away. But of course anyone who spends their days living in one-sided ignorant bliss wouldn’t know or take the time to know any of this. My husband has never stopped trying to help Dan to resolve this issue in a way that satisfies all involved, and tried to contact Dan as recently as yesterday.

    Reply
    • sydney

      Sorry I made you furious, Marilyn. It didn’t occur to me that I might be pushing buttons in my blog “report.” I didn’t see you at the meeting, but if you were there (and if you read my blog carefully) you would know that it was Dick, himself, who referred to being known as a bully. I didn’t hear anyone else use the b-word. As for the definitions you so kindly provided, I think most people would understand #2a to be the appropriate one in this context.
      As for the help Dan’s family has been to him over the years, I have no doubt. That is not at issue under the present circumstances, as far as I know. I believe the issue is to resolve the zoning situation so that Dan can continue his retail business. The fact that that it was his uncle who registered the complaint with the county (not the Oyster Growers Association) and that only Dick, Brian, and Mike spoke against Dan’s request to the Planning Commission obviously struck a negative note at the meeting, as it has in the community.
      As for your comment”…it is irresponsible to perpetuate rumors via this medium” — I guess you are implying that I should censor the responses to my blog. I try not to do that as attested to by the posting of your own comment. Again, I’m sorry to have made your furious. That certainly was not my intent.

      Reply
  8. Dan Driscoll

    I aprreciate everyone involved in the debate about The Oysterville Cannery. I appreciate Marilyn promoting my Uncle and her father in law Dick Sheldon. I take exception with pretty much everything Marilyn says about me and my business…but am thrilled that she read Oysterville Underground’s “An Ill-adviced Adventure”….A story I wrote in 2010 portraying Dick Sheldon as a hero.

    Reply
  9. Lee Knott

    Marylin, what are you talking about “updating some of his harvesting practices”? I am not an oyster grower so I don’t know what that is a reference to. I am a local resident of the peninsula and have a vested interest in this area being successful. It is rather interesting you are SO invested in Dan’s legal status with the state. Tell me again why Dick Sheldon has ANY interest in Dan’s difficulties with zoning?

    Reply
  10. Steve Davidson

    Wow, this is kinda a joke. Rezone the place…I mean, really.

    Reply
    • sydney

      No, it’s no joke, Steve. And re-zoning or getting a variance is what it’s all about. That is easier said than done here in Pacific County…

      Reply
      • steve davidson

        I believe it would be in the best interest of Oysterville and the county to allow spot zoning in this situation. Although not highly popular it does have a tendency to raise property values. Many may not like their values going up in such a depressed economic area though. A variance will be the cleanest way for the county to address this and also a bit more palatable for the community.

        Reply
        • sydney

          Thanks, Steve! No argument from me on that suggestion! I hope you have made your comment known to the Pacific County Planning Commission! At this point in time, the ball is in their court.

          Reply
  11. Steve Davidson

    Sydney,
    I have sent a message to the County. 🙂

    SD

    Reply
    • sydney

      Great, Steve! I hope you get a response and, more to the point, I hope your voice is heard and acted upon!

      Reply

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