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Big Rock gets company in Coupeville

It looks like the plans to relocate an espresso stand in front of Coupeville’s Big Rock landmark will move forward — at least for now.

A Skagit County judge dismissed the case last week against the rezoning of land in front of Big Rock off South Main St. The rezoning would allow Miriam’s Espresso, which is located on the east side of Main Street, to move. Miriam’s espresso is owned by Frank and Miriam Meyer.

The lawsuit was brought by Oh Oh Inc., a local watchdog group that argued that the rezone didn’t take into account provisions of Coupeville’s Comprehensive Plan regarding the proposed development’s impact on “historic landscapes.” Big Rock is a huge glacial erratic that has sat on the site for thousands of years.

Rezone opponents ran into a problem when Frank and Mary Tippets withdrew from the lawsuit for personal reasons, said Ken Pickard, a Coupeville attorney who represents Oh Oh Inc. The Tippets live next door to Big Rock.

Because the group couldn’t provide anyone who would be directly affected by the proposed development, the town filed a motion March 13 to dismiss the case, said Mayor Nancy Conard.

“I think the council made a legal decision. ... I was disappointed when they filed the lawsuit,” Conard said.

Pickard added that the group is considering whether to appeal their case to the Washington State Court of Appeals. He has 30 days to file.

Conard added that although the case was dismissed, the town still spent between $20,000 and $30,000 in legal fees.

The suit was originally filed in Island County Superior Court but a judge was unavailable because Judge Alan Hancock recused himself and Judge Vickie Churchill was asked to be excused by Oh Oh. The case was then transferred to Skagit County.

“It seemed like their was a lot of judge shopping going on,” Pickard said.

Oh Oh wanted the land near Big Rock to be turned into a park and even raised approximately $50,000 to purchase the land, but couldn’t reach a deal.

“We wish the Meyers would be more generous with people’s wishes and sell it for it to become a park,” Pickard said. “It’s a shame they put their interests ahead of the town’s.”

Despite frequent phone calls, Miriam Meyer could not be reached for comment.

According to previous reports, plans for a new location include a 4,500-square-foot structure in front of the Coupeville landmark. The rock is owned by Sharon Johnson, who said fence will separate the rock from the new development.

Although the project was tied up with a lawsuit, the town’s design review board approved the project’s design plans last September.

Community Events, April 2014

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