Contributed photo The clearcut at the former Mar Vista Resort.

State court declines David and Nancy Honeywells’ appeal

On Oct. 16, 2017, the Washington State Court of Appeals declined David and Nancy Honeywells’ case in Island County Superior Court.

The Honeywells are infamous for the waterfront clearcut at the former Mar Vista Resort on San Juan Island in 2013.

The Honeywells filed the appeal based on the Washington State Shore Hearings Board’s upholding of the Washington State of Ecology’s $55,000 penalty. According to court documents, the Honeywells argued that the board “erred in concluding that cutting each regulated tree was a separate violation of the Shoreline Management Act of 1971. They also claimed that the board acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it affirmed the DOE’s penalty. According to court documents, the Honeywells argued that the penalty was inflicted on them because the Honeywells were lottery winners and DOEs was acting in response to pressure from environmental groups, according to court documents

The court concluded that the board and DOE’s decisions were not improper.

This is not the first time the Honeywells’ appeal has been denied.

In June of 2016, the Honeywells were denied their appeal over a shoreline penalty of $55,000 on June 1 in San Juan County Superior Court. The court did grant their appeal regarding a water quality violation penalty of $12,000.

The Honeywells, formerly of Virginia and winners of a nine-figure Powerball jackpot in February 2013, purchased the property that same year for $6 million under an incorporated, Virginia-based entity known as Orca Dreams.

The Honeywells bought the property, located near False Bay on the west side of San Juan Island, intending to develop a “family compound” with six homes on the 30-acre parcel by building a new residence and rehabilitating and remodeling some of the former resort cabins and caretaker house.

In 2013, San Juan County issued a “notice of violation” after nearly two acres of waterfront at the Orca Dreams property were denuded of trees, shrubs and vegetation in late December without proper permits.

The county imposed a $1,000 fine on the couple and a $2,000 fine on the contractor after an investigation of the incident. According to their lawyers, the Honeywells immediately paid that fine.

In December of 2013, the Department of Ecology issued a warning letter to the Honeywells about the discharge of polluting materials and stormwater into the water. According to court documents the Honeywells then prepared a management plan for their site.

In 2014, DOE issued two civil penalties of $12,000 each against the Honeywells for water quality violations: one for discharge of slash and organic debris in marine waters and one for not having a proper permit. The Honeywells’ lawyers argued that they were not in violation of these offenses because the water quality laws pertained to operations for commercial or industrial operations. The court agreed that DOE could not penalize the Honeywells because the property is residential.

In 2014, DOE also issued a shoreline penalty of $55,000 for the unauthorized removal of vegetation including 80 trees within 200 feet of the shorelines and required restoration for the site all in violation of the Shoreline Management Act and the San Juan County Shoreline Master Program.

According to court documents, the Honeywells have moved forward with restoration of the site, but the project will take decades because of the time needed to grow trees.