Tag Archives: vacation

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.


Gorst road end vacation alarms resident

The in basket: Jack Niemi writes, “I live in Gorst and have noticed H.D. Fowler at the intersection of Hawthorn Avenue and Highway 3 fenced off the last 200 feet of the Hawthorn.

“The route has been available for use on foot for the 40 years I have lived in Gorst. Hawthorn Avenue allowed for foot traffic and was an important migration route for animals.

“The auto body shop across the street was vacated and H.D. Fowler secured the structure and fenced off the last 200 feet of Hawthorn Avenue, leaving no path through the previously public area.

“I have traveled this route frequently and am very familiar with it,” Jack said. “It was not uncommon for deer, bear, and other forest creatures to use this path for access to the Gorst Creek drainage and points west including the vast Bremerton watershed lands.

“How did public land go to fenced private? Did Kitsap County approve the change in use and transfer of property from public to private? Did the county planning office review and approve the change in use? Was an environmental review conducted? Did the Washington Department of Game or other environmental agencies solicited for input before approval of the changes?

“Gorst is very dangerous for migrating or foraging wildlife without choking off another path,” he said. “It is almost certain the interaction between traffic and wildlife at Sam Christopherson and Highway 3 will increase.

The out basket: Doug Bear, spokesman for Kitsap County Public Works, says, “The fence your reader refers to is on right-of-way that was vacated by the county on March 9, 2015, and is therefore no longer public land.”

He sent along copies of the paper work that accompanied the action by the county commissioners and it is voluminous. None of it shares Jack’s view of the vacated parcel.

Public Works commented that the right of way wasn’t maintained by the county, “no public vehicular or pedestrian usage is evident” and the (action) will not deny access to the abutting property owners. All of its component divisions, including roads, sewers, and stormwater, were consulted, as was Puget Sound Energy. None objected. Four nearby property owners were notified by registered mail. A large notice of the impending action was posted on the street

A utilities easement was retained in case PSE ever wants to put power lines underground there.

Impacts on wildlife weren’t mentioned.


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