Developer eyes house near Big Rock

In a new turn of events in the controversy surrounding Coupeville’s Big Rock, the owners of the business trying to relocate in front of the glacial erratic located on South Main are trying to buy more land.

The land in question neighbors Big Rock and is owned by Frank and Mary Tippets — two people named as plaintiffs in the original lawsuit filed by Oh Oh Inc., challenging the town’s decision to rezone the land for commercial use and allow the relocation of Miriam’s Espresso.

Frank Tippets, who is planning to resign his position on the Town Council at the end of the month, said that Frank and Miriam Meyer, who own Miriam’s Espresso, approached him last month and asked if he would consider selling his house, which sits just south of Big Rock.

Tippets wouldn’t comment on the price negotiated with the Meyers but said he hopes to have the property sold before he leaves town.

He resigned from the Town Council in mid-May. He bought a home in northern California to be closer to his children — most of whom live in California. He hopes to be moved into his new home early next month.

Frank Meyer was on vacation this week and could not be reached for comment.

The Meyers want to build a 4,000-square-foot office building in front of Big Rock. About half of the building will be used to house Miriam’s Espresso currently located on the eastern side of South Main near Coupe’s Village.

Ken Pickard, a Coupeville attorney representing Oh Oh Inc., said he heard about the pending sale of Tippets’ property on Monday and was cautiously optimistic of the situation.

He hoped that a purchase of the neighboring land would open the door for Oh Oh to buy the open space in front of Big Rock and turn it into a park. However, he said he hopes the Meyers don’t use the land to turn it into a “bigger strip mall.”

Oh Oh brought a lawsuit against the town of Coupeville in July 2002, arguing that the building didn’t take into account provisions of the town’s Comprehensive Plan ensuring structures are compatible with their surroundings and don’t have a negative effect on historic or natural landscapes. Big Rock isn’t on the property, but is adjacent to it.

Because of his involvement with the lawsuit, Tippets recused himself from any Town Council decision making concerning Big Rock.

A Skagit County judge dismissed the case earlier this year because she found Oh Oh didn’t have standing to bring forth the suit after the Tippets withdrew from the lawsuit. Pickard asked the judge to reconsider, arguing the 181 additional traffic trips the building is expected to bring would affect his ability to go to and from work.

The only public comment from the Meyers concerning the Big Rock issue came in the form of a written statement last month criticizing the numbers Pickard used, saying that they don’t take into account that Miriam’s Espresso is an established business and already draws its customers to the area.

Pickard later pointed out that he pulled the numbers from a traffic study done at the request of the Meyers.

According to the study on file at Town Hall, the 181 trips a day appeared to take into account the existing coffee shop.

The letter from the Meyers also stated that the Town Council, Planning Commission, and Design Review Board have approved the project and there are no objections from the neighbors, including the Coupeville School District.

A court date has yet to be set on hearing of the lawsuit.

You can reach News-Times reporter Nathan Whalen at nwhalen@whidbeynews or 675-6611.

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