Anthony Bavuso of Seaford Oyster has a similar love for the Chesapeake Bay and the oysters he grows there. Anthony grew up on the Chesapeake and speaks of his love for that piece of water. Since 2010 he has been growing and selling oysters from the bay.
Unfortunately, not everyone is happy about what Anthony is doing. It may be that he could wake up one morning and all he has worked for could be gone. The passion that he has chased and the love he has for the Bay could have a cold bucket of water thrown on it. He points out in a promotional video that the growing of oysters in the bay is very beneficial to the ecosystem. His little farm on the water is helping to clean the bay up for future generation and providing awesome oysters to locals, restaurants and folks in the surrounding states. What could be so bad about that?
Anthony has been tenaciously fighting to keep Seaford Oyster open. In 2011 he was informed he needed a permit to operate by the county. So, to play nice, he applied for the permit to operate his oyster farm. He was denied by the county. In 2012 Anthony took the county to court arguing that he did not need a permit to operate his oyster farm due to the fact that his land was zoned for agriculture. He won his circuit court case but lost, on a split decision, when the county appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court.
While his case was making its way through the courts the Virginia legislature passed a bill clarifying that aquaculture IS agriculture (as if that really needed to be defined). You would think this would bring an end to this nightmare for a man who just wants to make a living off of the water he loves, but no. No, the county asked that the bill have a delay amended to it so they could come into compliance with it. Instead they have decided to use the delay in-order to zone him out of business.
The York County Board of Supervisors has decided that they don't need farmers, of any sort, in their county. They have made a proposal to basically eliminate agriculture from nearly all of their zoning (I wonder if they are familiar with the word overkill?). Some of the other options would extremely limit it and all of them would put Seaford Oyster out of business.
In-spite of all this he has continued to farm. On March 27th of this year he was served with an injunction ordering him to stop farming. In the spirit of Ol' Virginia, where we take action against tyrants, he sued them. He claims that they have no legal grounds to require him to have a permit. Seeing that the lower courts have ruled in his favor before, lets hope they do again.
The frighting aspect of all of this is that on a whim a group of public "servants" could strip you of your property rights. The York County Board of Supervisors have decided to toy with a man's future. As if he were their vassal upon their fief. It is frightening to think that one small group of people can wield that much destructive power.
If you live east of Salem, Va. I hope you will consider buying some oysters from Seaford Oyster Company. According to his website he can overnight them anywhere east of Salem, and Anthony could use all the support he can get. And you will get a nice box of delicious Chesapeake Bay oysters. I hope to meet up with him later this month and that is exactly what I am doing. I am also going to sign the petition to let the York County Board of Supervisors know just how foolish they look.
So, who is up for some fresh raw oysters?
UPDATE: York County Moves Forward With its Re-Zoning Proposals.
Question: What would you do? Do you think the York County Board of Supervisors is with in their rights? Let me know in the comments.