Appeals Court rules for Mashpee oyster farmer

MASHPEE — The Massachusetts Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of a Mashpee oyster farmer whose proposed Popponesset Bay oyster farm has been continually challenged by neighboring homeowners.

The court ruled Tuesday that both the Mashpee Board of Selectmen and the town’s Conservation Commission properly approved Richard Cook’s application for a 1.9-acre shellfish grant. A group of neighbors whose homes overlook the bay challenged each board’s ruling in separate court cases, which were decided in the same ruling by a three-judge Appeals Court panel.

The court stated the homeowners’ claim that the Cape Cod Commission must review the project because it is a commercial development was incorrect. The commission’s regulations include neither agriculture nor aquaculture in its definitions of a commercial project, the court stated.

The Appeals Court also found myriad other issues raised by the homeowners to be without merit, including claims that Cook had failed to adequately address the safety concerns of his gear potentially washing away in a storm and that the Conservation Commission reached its decision without enough deliberation or consideration.

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