What does it mean to ‘vacate’ right of way?

The in basket: Sam Watland read the recent Road Warrior column about Kitsap County turning the dead end of Hawthorne Avenue in Gorst  over to the adjacent property owners through a process called “vacating” it and asked some questions.

“Who now owns the property in question?” he asked. “What does it mean for the county to ‘vacate’ the property? Was it sold to someone or now does it belong to the state? If no one owns it then isn’t it considered public property?”

The out basket: Molly Foster, right-of-way supervisor for Kitsap County Public Works, says, “The County initiated this road vacation to release public liability and any question of maintenance for this area, which is only a portion of the roadway. Per RCW 36.87.010, the county commissioners can declare its intention to vacate a right of way and did approve the vacation on March 19, 2015.

“This right of way did not connect to Highway 3 and the adjacent owners, H.D. Fowler and Robert Mathwig, were both contacted. They both supported the vacation and acknowledged they would regain part of this area as their private property.

“When the County ‘vacates’ right of way, it simply releases the easement for road use lifting the public’s interest off the area and it reverts back to its origin which in this case was split between the two adjacent owners.

“There was no compensation recommended back to the county because the county initiated the action. A sale of county-owned land is an entirely separate process and action.


One thought on “What does it mean to ‘vacate’ right of way?

  1. Cleaborn County, Alabama has vacated a road back to the adjacent property owners and I have a notarized copy of the resolution provided by the County. I have had the property resurveyed to indicate the property line being relocated to the center of the vacated road. My surveyor is saying he cannot move the property line as it would place his license in jeopardy. Is this true?

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