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The Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) upheld on Thursday, Aug. 20, Tillamook County’s approval of the installation of Edge Cable Holdings, a subsidiary of Facebook, Jupiter Cable System in Tierra Del Mar.

Oregon Coast Alliance, composed of community members of Tierra Del Mar, had appealed the board of county commissioners decision approving a conditional use permit and similar use determination for the installation of an underground fiber optic cable system and landing site on residential property.

“The community of Tierra Del Mar regrets the Land Use Board of Appeals affirmation of the county’s Jan. 15, 2020 decision,” said Tierra Del Mar citizen Lynnae Ruttledge. “Recognizing that LUBA could only make their decision based on the record, the decision reflects how the project was presented before construction. Now, seven months later and counting, the reality is far different.”

LUBA had listened to oral arguments focused on the land use decision on June 16. Preconstruction began Jan. 29 and HDD drilling activity began March 9. All construction activities stopped on April 30 and will begin again Jan. 1, 2021 during the allowed construction period specified in the conditions of approval.

The Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) announced on Aug. 13 that they have notified Edge Cable of actions required to comply with the terms of their communications cable easement agreement, after being notified on April 28 of a snapped drill pipe. Approximately 1,100 feet of drill pipe, a drill tip, two tools for drill steering and tracking, and approximately 6,500 gallons of drilling fluid were left in the ocean. Edge Cable notified DSL of the abandoned equipment on June 17.

Edge Cable, within 30 days from Aug. 13, must reach an agreement with the state regarding damages to be paid; propose amendments to the easement agreement to address any current risks and liabilities that may arise from the abandoned equipment; and ensure the removal-fill permit for the project in compliance with local, state and federal laws.

“The state is now grappling with the reality of Facebook’s drilling failure in April, the abandonment of drilling equipment that is under the seabed and a portion that is under our ocean shore, having to serve a notice of default, having to negotiate an agreement of damages, having to require and then review the results of an independent hazard analysis and having to respond to the concerns of legislators and community members,” Ruttledge said.

The residents of Tierra Del Mar are considering their options for an appeal to the Oregon Court of Appeals.

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