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Willapa Harbor Herald • Town Crier
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Debris pile remains as subdivision auction looms

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A notorious debris pile at a Winlock subdivision has shown no signs of being cleared as an auction to sell the property in question remains scheduled for later this month.

Grand Prairie Mountain View Estates, owned by developer Phil Smith, has been the subject of multiple infractions since last year regarding a large debris pile on the south end of the property, described by officials as the remains of a two-story house Smith had been hired to haul to the dump in November, 2013, but instead deposited at the site.

After four citations since last year from Lewis County finding Smith in violation of local nuisance laws, as well as a stop work order issued last September by the city halting all progress on the development, Smith has neither paid his citations nor removed the debris, and officials have said they are waiting to see the results of the potential auction, scheduled for June 19, before taking any further action.

"At this point, it's a wait-and-see," said Winlock City Clerk Theda Curry, stating her office has not received any information indicating whether or not Smith intends to meet a Monday deadline to bring himself out of default with his creditors, which court documents said would cancel the auction.

Lewis County Code Enforcement Officer Bill Teitzel also said his office has yet to follow up with Smith since the property owner pleaded "committed" May 20 to his most recent pair of infractions, issued Feb. 13 and March 11, and are intending to do so soon.

According to Lewis County District Court, neither of these citations, totaling $514 each, have been paid by Smith and will be sent to collections after June 29 if he fails to fulfill them, which is expected to be a factor in Teitzel's decision of whether or not to issue further citations. A separate pair of citations issued June 11 and 18, 2014, for $257 each were sent to collections March 12 of this year after going unpaid, and resulted in the following citations being doubled, according to Teitzel.

When interviewed on Friday, Smith indicated he is planning to work things out with his creditors, Valley High Investments, in time to avoid the auction, but did not detail his intentions nor did he discuss the matter of the debris pile.

"It'll get straightened out," he said, stating he had no further comment.

A statement from Valley High Investments regarding the potential sale had not been received by this newspaper by as of the printing of this report. According to a Notice of Trustee's Sale filed March 2 with Lewis County, Smith owes his creditors more than $900,000 in principal, interest and fees and will be required to pay all outstanding monthly payments, fees by Monday and interest to bring himself out of default, which is estimated to cost multiple tens of thousands of dollars.

If the property does sell, Teitzel has said Smith will remain responsible for any fees and citations already issued regarding the violation, while the future property owner would become responsible for cleaning the debris and could face similar infractions if no action is taken.

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