The following article appeared in the Anacortes American, 
Wednesday, August 19, 1998:

DEVELOPER'S MISTAKES DRAW SIX-YEAR STOP TO 
WORK FOR 20-LOT PROJECT.

By Nancy Walbeck
American Staff Writer

An Edmonds developer who bought 40 acres from 
the Willette family off Miller Road has had his residential 
project slapped with a 6-year moratorium by the county 
because of land-use violations.

Randy S. Previs, who owns Seavestco Inc. of 
Edmonds, planned a 20-lot development off Miller Road near 
Scimitar Ridge Lane, dubbed Lakewood Estates.

But Skagit County planning officials say Previs 
skipped getting permits, including one from the state 
Department of Natural Resources.  The county enforcement 
officer, Diana Barnett, said a forest-practices permit outlining 
tree removal was not applied for, nor did an onsite inspection 
by DNR personnel take place before Previs bulldozed a road 
through his acreage.  As well, the road, which follows the 
outline of the residential development, was built over clearly 
visible wetland areas and other critical-area sites, a violation 
of the county's comprehensive plan.

"He cut and logged trees, put in roads over wetlands, 
graded - all without permits.  He (clearly) attempted to 
circumvent the critical-areas ordinance," Barnett said, adding 
that Previs "quit-claimed" every other lot to his company, 
Seavestco, in an attempt to get around regulations that apply 
to large-parcel development.

In fact, county planning director Tom Karsh said 
Monday, Aug. 17, that it still is uncertain what the legal 
ramifications are because Previs' legal advisors are saying he 
isn't in violation regarding tree harvesting.  Karsh also was 
unaware that the 6-year moratorium already had been issued 
to Previs by his department because some issues were still 
unclear regarding harvesting, and if state law actually had 
been broken.

"We are still investigating.  It does look like it really 
is an illegal division of the land, " Karsh said, adding that the 
county views Previs' development as one "40-acre chunk," 
not a mix of small parcels, as the developer claims.
On site, the only trees removed relate to the main 
subdivision road, pushed through from above Miller Road to 
the edge of the Anacortes Community Forest lands.  Thirty-
foot tall burn piles are stacked throughout the site, with cedar, 
hemlock and other large evergreens readied for fire disposal, 
which concerns Anacortes Forest Land Manager Bob Vaux.
The manager did say Previs hasn't intruded into the 
forest lands, which abuts the developer's property at the ridge 
crest, but he did bulldoze a large swath where a narrow 
footpath led into the ACFL.  The path was part of an 
easement agreement with the Willette family, which didn't 
transfer with the sale to Previs.  ACFL staff have placed 
brush as an obstruction to discourage use at that location, and 
to protect the integrity of the ACFL.

Previs, who lives and works out of an Edmonds 
address, couldn't be reached for comment Monday.  Barnett 
who was alerted to Previs' construction work by a nearby 
property owner, issued a stop-work order to Previs as early as 
June 1.

Although it is unclear to county officials whether he 
continued to work the site beyond that date, some adjacent 
homeowners say they have heard blasting and other activity 
over the past several weeks.  The moratorium dated Aug. 12 , 
was mailed last week to Previs' Edmonds address, Barnett 
confirmed.

Barnett walked the site with Vaux in June, and noted 
the multiple violations at that time, including placing a road 
over a large wetland, which still retained water in mid-
August.

Other area wetlands were compromised or bulldozed 
under and no evaluation has been done regarding wildlife 
habitat, tree retention on a steep, rocky slope, stormwater and 
drainage issues or buffer zones to protect critical-area habitat.
However, Karsh said Previs could have the 
moratorium lifted if he met conditions laid out by DNR and 
the county.  If it is proven DNR has no concerns about the 
tree harvest, that would leave only the critical-area ordinance 
to contend with.

"He needs to do a critical-area review, and that 
means hiring a wetlands biologist to assess that," Karsh said, 
which includes a number of procedural steps.  One of those 
could be a public hearing and/or appeals of action Previs has 
taken, or might in the future, to mitigate on-site damage.
For the neighbors who have chosen a wooded, quiet 
enclave hidden away from noisy Highway 20, the 
development has been a shock.

Jean Johansen, who has lived with her husband 
Elmer for seven years on nearby Deer Lane, said she was 
angry that someone would deliberately circumvent necessary 
environmental laws.

"We have heron, eagles, raccoons, coyotes, a lot of 
habitat.  It takes away from the forest (to build it like a 
subdivision)," she said.  On the Johansen's five acres with the 
house close to the road, most of the property has been left as 
they bought it years ago.

"I wish people would recognize preserving the forest, 
instead of putting in lawns.  We built with the land and the 
rocks (already here)," she added.

Johansen and several neighbors tried to buy the 
Willette property when it came on the market, but the 
$168,000 price tag was too high.  She said her neighbors fear 
development, and now they have been put in a position where 
they are forced to monitor Previs' activities.

In fact, Barnett said, a nearby property owner, who 
did not want his name revealed by the county, alerted Barnett 
in June about Previs' development.

Meanwhile, county planners and DNR still need to 
clarify what Previs has done, and whether it constitutes one or 
several violations of the existing law.

Karsh said the investigation which has consumed 
most of the summer, is still ongoing.  And what might cause 
further concern is if matters drag on into the rainy season 
with possible impacts to homes and property from 
uncontrolled stormwater runoff.