Foster home files appeal over Seaview ruling

<p>Hundreds of locals turned out for the public hearing regarding a possible foster home in Seaview in early December.</p>

SEAVIEW — In a letter received Friday, Dec. 21, New Visions Programs of Vancouver notified Pacific County of its intention to appeal a hearing examiner’s ruling against the company’s plan for a for-profit home in Seaview for teenage foster boys.

Lawyer Mike Turner, acting as an independent quasi-judge after taking testimony on the issue on Dec. 5, determined later in the month that New Visions failed to provide clear and convincing evidence that it qualified for a special use permit. The permit is required to convert the former Lions Paw Bed & Breakfast into a residence for up to five teenage boys at a time who haven’t adapted well to previous traditional foster-home placements.

South Pacific County has had a chronic shortage of foster homes for many years. New Visions, which operates two group-style foster homes in each Clark and Thurston counties, would contract with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services to house a rotating group of boys. The company’s Trent Hall testified the boys would most likely be from Pacific and Grays Harbor counties.

In light of Turner’s decision, the next legal step for New Visions is to appeal to the Pacific County Board of Commissioners. Although Stevens said last week he was in receipt of a letter of intent from New Visions, the county commissioners’ office had not received the required $200 filing fee as of late last week.

Assuming the firm follows through on its appeal, the county will set a hearing date at the courthouse in South Bend and advertise the matter in the Chinook Observer. It will be a de novo hearing, meaning commissioners will start from scratch and take new testimony from the company and anyone else who wants to weigh in on the issue. About 150 attended the Dec. 5 administrative hearing in Long Beach, with about 30 speaking against the plan.

“We believe that the ruling denying the Special Use permit to the new owners of the Lion’s Paw was correctly decided and are confident that it will be upheld upon appeal,” said Nansen Malin of Seaview, one of the permit’s opponents. “The Seaview community has come together and will continue to actively oppose this project.”

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