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Exxon appeal to be fought Thursday

"An appeal that stopped the first stage of construction of a new Exxon station in Freeland will be argued Thursday before the Island County Hearings Examiner.At 10:15 a.m. in the commissioners meeting room at the Island County Courthouse, members of A-OOK development group will go head-to-head with members of People for Reasonable, Organized Urban Development (PROUD), a citizen's group that advocates planned growth. A-OOK wants to build the gas station and several related businesses at the corner of Fish Road and Highway 525. PROUD is arguing that A-OOK's grading permit for the project should be nullified and that the project should, at the very least, undergo an Environmental Impact Statement process.Last spring, more than 900 residents signed a petition asking the Island County Planning Department to require an EIS or to deny A-OOK a permit altogether.PROUD appealed A-OOK's grading on Oct. 3, the day that A-OOK partner Mick Olsen started the bulldozers rolling on property. By 10 a.m. that day, Olsen had to pull his machinery off the property because the county issued an automatic stop-work order after the appeal was filed. The development group has done no work at the property since then.The two groups will argue over whether or not the proposed development site is a wetland. If hearings examiner Michael Bobbink rules that it is or that the project should be subjected to an EIS, A-OOK may not be able to resume work for months, if at all.The hearing is open to all members of the public. Bobbink makes his decisions within 10 days of a hearing. "

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