Homeowner at odds with Asotin County officials

CLARKSTON, WA - A homeowner and his newly built house are causing quite a stir at Asotin County Commission meetings and County officials have yet to make a decision on the controversial topic.

Homeowner Kent Criss bought this patch of land along Valleyview Drive in the Clarkston Heights eight years ago, like many others along this undeveloped roadway. However, when builders constructed his dream home on that land, they went over the private property line and into County space.

"We need that space, the additional footage of that road to be able to maneuver into our driveway up or down," said Criss.

Criss asked the Asotin County Commission to keep his wall where it stands and install a guardrail for the safety of passing drivers. However, the commission is concerned that this homeowner, who Commissioner Brian Shinn said is 'asking for forgiveness rather than permission,' sets precedence for future homeowners to disregard county code.

Some local residents are blaming the county for not inspecting the building process carefully.

"Where was the building department when they built that in there?" asked concerned resident Carl Flynn. "Didn't they ask any questions?"

But Asotin County Public Works Director Jim Bridges said the original planning they approved didn't develop on County roadways.

"With inspectors not seeing these things, my response is we have over 500 miles of roadway in the County and it would be impractical for us to have someone drive that every day," said Bridges.

The Commission has yet to make a decision, because if they deny Criss the County space, he won't be able to get into his driveway with his car and it may hurt property value along the steep hill for future homeowners. The decision, which was supposed to be made today, is now postponed at least two, possibly three weeks so a public hearing can be held again to get opinions from landowners along that street.

If the Commission denies Criss' request, he'll have to remove the wall and restore the slope, but a guard rail won't have to be installed. However, if they approve the vacation of the right-of-way he'll have to pay for the County property as well as a guard rail installation.