Subdivision Court Battle Could Outlive Issue At Stake In/Around: Indian Trail

THURSDAY, JAN. 5, 1995

Harlan Douglass’ legal battle over the rejection of his application for the proposed Windhaven subdivision may take longer than the moratorium he wants to circumvent.

“I don’t know what he hopes to gain. By the time it gets through court, I’m sure the moratorium will be over,” said Pat Dalton, the assistant city attorney handling the case.

Douglass submitted paper work on the 324-home subdivision hours before the City Council passed a moratorium on new applications to divide land.

Area residents and some council members cried foul and claimed that Douglass violated the spirit of the moratorium.

Effective for six months, the moratorium is supposed to allow residents and planners time complete a plan to accommodate past and future growth in the northwest section of the city.

Windhaven is one of the largest subdivisions planned in Indian Trail. But Planning Director Charlie Dotson tossed out the application, ruling it was incomplete.

Douglass fought back, first appealing Dotson’s actions to the city hearing examiner and then filing the lawsuit, claiming Dotson violated his constitutional rights.

Dalton said the city feels that Douglass should have waited for the hearing examiner to process the appeal instead of suing right away.

Dalton said he and Douglass’ lawyers will get together this month to discuss the hearing examiner issue.

“They seem willing to pursue the hearing examiner, but I think it will ultimately end up in Superior Court anyway,” he said. “By the time it’s all over, the moratorium will be lifted.”

Douglass’ lawyer, Mike Murphy of Seattle, said his client fears the new growth plan will prevent Douglass from developing his 59 acres on the west side of Indian Trail Road, north of Barnes Road, as densely as he has designed it, with more than five houses on every acre.

But members of the neighborhood steering committee writing the new plan say they are discussing transportation issues, not zoning changes.

“Under growth management, in already urbanized areas you have to figure out if you can increase your density,” Dalton said. “This is one of those areas.

“So I really doubt the new plan will affect his density.”

Douglass has offered to drop his lawsuit and wait until the moratorium is lifted if the city agrees to accept the Windhaven application under the current rules.

Dalton said the city has rejected that offer.

Dalton said Douglass has also offered to pay any impact fees the city subsequently imposes on new developments as a result of the growth plan.

The city has rejected that offer also.

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