RICHLAND — Richland officials Tuesday ordered developer Milo Bauder to stop some grading work done on what is known as the saddle of Little Badger Mountain because he didn't have permits for the work.
Bauder does have four permits for some utility and grading work on the site where The Crest housing development eventually will be built, but Deputy City Manager Bill King said Bauder's crews were seen moving dirt in an area where no permits have been issued.
"It seems clear that Mr. Bauder's contractors are performing work without proper city permits," King wrote in an e-mail to the Herald, several city staff members and a resident who complained about the work.
"A stop-work order has been issued ending this activity until and unless proper permits have been issued. In the meantime, however, work based on previously issued permits may continue."
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Bauder did not respond to a message left at his home Monday evening.
Tuesday wasn't the first time the city has ordered Bauder to stop work because he lacked permits. In December 2008, he was ordered to stop grading work for a road in the same development because his permit had expired.
The development has been the subject of a land-use lawsuit by nearby residents who have primarily objected to the amount of traffic the proposed 145-unit housing development would add to Morency Drive in south Richland's Crested Hills development -- another Bauder development.
A Benton County Superior Court judge found against the homeowners, but they appealed to the Court of Appeals Division III in Spokane. Arguments were heard on the appeal in November 2010 but no decision has come, said John Ziobro, attorney for the homeowners.
The finding in his favor in Benton County theoretically should let Bauder proceed with development under the preliminary plat for The Crest development that was approved by the city in 2007.
A preliminary plat is a proposed set of boundaries for a piece of land showing the layout, how it would be subdivided into lots and where streets will go.
Bauder since has applied for a short plat -- allowing a piece of land to be subdivided into no more than four lots -- for part of the land.
And he has gotten permits for work on what would become the short-platted area even though the city has yet to approve the short plat itself.
King said the short plat was reviewed by city staff and sent back to Bauder with some comments about things that would have to be changed before approval could be granted.
King added that the city also questioned whether the short plat process is appropriate in light of the larger preliminary plat that already exists.
"We're in the process of trying to understand and clarify that with Mr. Bauder," King said. "We don't see that there's really a provision in the law to have it both ways. We think he's got to go one way or the other."
Regardless of whether Bauder chooses to stick with the 2007 preliminary plat or go with the short plat, he still must meet the standards of the planned unit development that also was approved by the city council, King said.
A planned unit development is adopted as a city ordinance, and sets forth the rules and standards for how a development will be built.
Ziobro said his clients are worried that Bauder is trying to use short plats to circumvent city processes for the preliminary plat.
"That is the main reason (we believe) he's doing it," Ziobro said. "He has four. Our concern is he's going to file another short plat application and now he's at eight."