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Scituate

Opponents sue to stop Scituate from allowing shellfish farming

The Friends of Bassing Beach have sued to stop Scituate officials from allowing commercial shellfish farming in waters at the northernmost end of town known as Cohasset Outer Harbor.

The area is part of Scituate, but is most accessible to Cohasset and used extensively by sailing education programs out of the public Cohasset Sailing Club and private Cohasset Yacht Club.

Local sailing enthusiasts opposed the plan, saying it would interfere with boaters, and formed the Friends of Bassing Beach to fight it. The group bought property along the shore in mid-April, according to spokesman Timothy Davis.

The suit, filed May 26, claims the town of Scituate has no authority to issue shellfish farming licenses in that location because it doesn’t own or control the tidal flats where the farming would take place. Instead, the property is owned by the Friends of Bassing Beach and Douglas and Craig McLellan, the suit contends.

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Scituate selectmen voted in late 2019 to adopt shellfishing farming regulations — saying aquaculture would bring attention and revenue to the town and could coexist with recreational sailing — and had planned to allow a pilot aquaculture project this summer. Jamie Davenport, a Scituate resident whose family runs an oyster farm in Dennis, has said he would apply for permission to do the project.

Scituate Town Administrator James Boudreau had no comment on the lawsuit, but said the selectmen will not move forward on the controversial project until people can attend meetings and comment in person.

“We’re not going to do this on Zoom,” Boudreau said.

Johanna Seltz can be reached at seltzjohanna@gmail.com.