Developer appeals six-year 'stop-work' order Anacortes American Wednesday, November 18, 1998 Page A10 By Nancy Walbeck American staff writer A developer who proposed a 20-lot subdivision off Miller Road in Skagit County is appealing the six-year moratorium imposed on his project. Randy Previs of Seavestco Inc. of Edmonds planned to build Lakewood Park Estates on 44 acres, but was cited by the Skagit County planning department and the state Department of Natural Resources for impacting wetlands and removing, or "harvesting" tress. The county imposed a six-year moratorium on the project in August and re-confirmed that action in a letter to Previs dated Oct. 27. DNR followed up with a stop-work order, also dated Oct. 27. County planning director Tom Karsh, who represents the lead agency in the action, said Previs and his Bellingham attorney Bob Carmichael protested the shutdown, saying regulations were vague on the term "harvesting." The county, backed by DNR, maintained that Previs removed several trees on or near wetlands or critical areas, and made other unauthorized environmental impacts on his property. Initially, Previs admitted only to failing to obtain a fill-and-grade permit last spring before beginning work on the site. The property, which borders on the Anacortes Community Forest Lands, is steep and pocked with wetlands, streams and also an old access road. According to county and DNR documents, Previs widened and extended that road in a configuration that followed his subdivision plans. He also cleared a larger site near the apex of the property, land on which he plans to put a home for himself. The ACFL, however, was not impacted, Anacortes city officials previously determined. Previs, who apparently has now downsized his plans to the single homesite and some road improvements and site upgrades, said Monday he didn't receive any stop-work order from DNR and only knew about the action from Carmichael, who read the document over the phone this past week. But Jim Cahill of DNR, who is overseeing local management of the Previs action, said the stop-work order was sent by certified mail to the developer at his home in Edmonds. Cahill also confirmed that Carmichael was unaware of that order until Cahill told him in a recent phone conversation. The appeal, which likely will be heard Dec. 2 before county hearing examiner Bob Schofield, will address the "appropriateness" of the moratorium, Karsh said. But the county planning director still stands by his decision to affirm the moratorium action, which he said was based on a number of issues. One was a recent court case in Whatcom County, which won on appeal, where the court stated it would defer to the appropriate agency about what the term "harvesting" actually meant. "I agree it is a weak point in the state law ... the definitions on harvesting," Karsh said. As well, Karsh said the planning department received an additional request from Previs to remove alder trees and a "snag" tree, and the developer also wanted to burn or remove the existing slash piles of downed trees. Karsh said he told Carmichael those matters must be handled by the DNR, unless Previs' action would impact critical areas. Cahill said Previs must contact DNR directly to remove the stop-work order so the agency can determine if future actions require a Forest Practices permit. So far, he has heard nothing from either Previs or Carmichael about additional on-site work. Previs said Monday he is still waiting for his attorney Carmichael and the county to iron out their differences so he can go ahead with plans for the single homesite. Carmichael could not be reached for comment. Meanwhile, the environmental group Evergreen Islands has been closely monitoring the Previs project. The group also hired an attorney, Smith & Lowney of Seattle, which sent a strongly worded legal brief to Karsh outlining why the firm is convinced Previs broke the law, and backing the county on the moratorium. Karsh agreed that the Smith & Lowney brief, dated Oct. 22, did help, along with the other information already in county's hands.