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PROUD passes on appeal to Exxon

"A group opposing the construction of an Exxon gas station and car wash in Freeland will not appeal a Jan. 18 decision by the Island County Hearing Examiner to enforce the project's grading permit.Jerry Hill, president of People for Reasonable, Organized Urban Development (PROUD) said the group's five-member board of directors decided to avoid an appeal fight in Island County Superior Court for financial reasons.The group spent $30,000 during the past few months fighting A-OOK Corner Properties' development permit for the Fish Road-Highway 525 project, Hill said. The group tried to prove that the 2.73-acre property is a wetland and could not be developed.Hill said filing an appeal and requesting an injunction against the construction work that started on the property last Saturday would cost tens of thousands of dollars more and would have made PROUD board members liable for damages if the organization lost a court fight.A couple of members were deathly afraid of the financial risk of taking that next step, Hill said.PROUD members and community residents protesting against the project won a small victory this week when they called attention to the fact that A-OOK had not skirted its project with black plastic designed to stop silt runoff into nearby wetlands. The skirting went up Tuesday afternoon.Hill also said PROUD would have a hard time proving its case in court because of all the drainage work that has been done on the property.Enough of the evidence was destroyed to make it hard to do that, he charged.Still, deciding to abandon the fight was a tough decision that took three days of talks among PROUD members.They put their hearts and souls into it, Hill said.Hill said PROUD will remain active in Freeland's ongoing planning process. Developers have a grading permit from Island County but are still awaiting a building permit to start actual construction. "

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