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August 21, 2008
Suit threatened over Breedings Addition dispute
PALOUSE, Washington (STPNS) -- The August 12 Palouse City Council meeting began with another lively open forum.
Jim Farr had come to speak with the council regarding three issues in which he felt the city had some responsibility.
He first inquired if city officials had changed their positions on allowing water to his property off the road toward Potlatch. Farr owns 16 lots, and wants one water meter which would enable him to develop them. However, city officials had previously informed him he needs to install a fire-hydrant on the property before they will let him connect to the Palouse water system.
Farr insisted it would be perfectly within his rights to place a water line on his property, and the city had no solid legal reason to deny his request. However, Mayor Michael Echanove informed him the city's position remained unchanged, and expressed concern about individuals laying down water lines without the aid of surveyors and city planners. The utility lines in areas of Palouse are disorganized and problematic, because of such a situation.
The property is located along the new sewer line on Breedings Addition, and Farr mentioned if that area was allowed water the city would probably see several hook-ups. Currently there are fewer residents on Breedings Addition than the number of hook-ups necessary for the city to break even on the sewer project.
"If you guys want some sewer hook-ups, you'd better get me some water," Farr said.
Mayor Echanove did not waver on the issue, and restated his opinion asserting "It's the city's right to sell the water."
Another concern brought forward by Farr was the state of his rock pit on Fairview Avenue. He asserted the construction companies employed by the Palouse city government had dumped debris from the Breedings Addition and Whitman Street projects there without his permission, and felt the city had an obligation to help restore it.
Palouse Superintendent Dwayne Griffin told Farr the issue was strictly between him and A&R, and Palouse City was in no way involved.
The mayor wrapped the discussion up, stating the council needed to "conclude this and move on."
Disagreement ensued over Farr's final point, which was his observation the Breedings Addition sewer line had strayed onto his property.
He said the line was off by around nine feet, and the mistake would be obvious to anyone who went up to the line and looked.
Mayor Echanove maintained no mistake had been made and stated he would "send our engineer up your way, because I believe this is not true."
Farr's reply to the mayor was, "If it is off and you can't resolve any of these issues then you can get your sewer out of my property or we'll be going to court."
The cost of removing hard rock recently increased the total for Breedings Addition by over $40,000 and moving the line would require A&R to go through more hard rock.
Replying to a question by Steve McGehee, Mayor Echanove stated there have been no further cost overruns and no more are expected.
McGehee also asked about seeing additional proposals for work by A&R, however Superintendent Griffin could only think of one bid he had out to repair asphalt on Fairview. Mayor Echanove wasn't aware of any significant proposals, but assured McGehee he would be glad to provide them if it became possible.
David Mayhan also came to the meeting to ask the city council a question, "Are you gonna fix our street where [Spokane Rock] chewed it up?"
He was referring to a large gouge left in the road by a piece of Spokane Rock's equipment, which slipped off the tracks. The gouge has been discussed by the city council during previous meetings at which some members voiced the opinion it was the result of carelessness and lack of concern.
However, the street hadn't been very nice prior to the gouge and, as Superintendent Griffin stated, they "decided the road was already in such bad shape it wasn't worth the repair."
Mayhan also requested a sign to be put up at the bottom of the hill indicating motorists should drive slowly, because of children at play. He was concerned by the number of vehicles he noticed speeding around the corner in an area where so many kids run around.
The council agreed to look into some sort of signage compelling drivers to watch their speed more closely.
Councilman Mike Milano brought up the subject of the formation of a Civil Service Commission. Now that Palouse has a three-man police force. It seems a police commission must be formed, and many people have voiced curiosity regarding it. Unfortunately very little was discussed about it, as the council only recently realized a commission would be required by law.
A representative from Spokane Rock came to give the City Council an update on the work being done on Whitman Street.
He informed them electrical was nearly finished, and concrete would be put in shortly. The project has run smoothly and may very well wrap up two weeks ahead of schedule.
The rubber matting drainage system on either side of the railroad tracks should prove to be very useful to the city, and the rep stated he was "quite confident it would be a long-term fix."
Police Chief Jerry Neumann discussed Palouse Days entertainment with the city council. A motorcycle stunt group called the "high riders" is available, but had caused some street damage at a show in Rosalia. Mayor Echanove agreed it would be fine, so long as the high riders skipped the more destructive parts of their act.
Mobile home compensation for last tenant
An executive session was called to discuss compensation for Carol Towne, a mobile home park resident. At a previous meeting, the council had decided to give her $8,000 for relocation, but she stated she'd been told by the mayor prior to that meeting she was likely to receive $10,000.
Her son, Bryan Bryngelson, represented her, and told the council her affairs generally fell to him. He had been absent at the meeting where Carol's compensation had last been discussed, but was the one who would be responsible for removing her mobile home.
As he had no use for the home, only a place to store it temporarily, he didn't feel it was worth taking the trailer for less than the $10,000 he had thought they would receive. He requested the council either give him $8,000 and dispose of the trailer themselves, or give him the $10,000 they had spoken of originally.
The council went in to an executive session, and the mayor announced they would continue negotiations with Carol later. No decision was made.
A project to fix the sidewalk going up the school hill is in the works. The city is applying for a TIB sidewalk grant with a 15% match to pay for the estimated $120,000 project.
The junk vehicle ordinance was put before the council. Councilman Mark Bailey, who had written up the ordinance, assured the council the wording in it was standard throughout Washington.
The ordinance allows police officers to designate junk vehicles, and take the steps necessary for their removal without a citizen complaint. The vehicle must fit the three requirements titling it junk, "It must be three years old, inoperable, and have the value of scrap."
Some members of the council voiced apprehension about police officers alone determining the status of a car, but Chief Neumann was confident they would be able to distinguish between hulks and collectibles. Chief Neumann stated the police "wouldn't be looking for long-term project cars, just piles that don't run."
There was also concern for hobbyists and businesses like Quakes Brakes, as neither were listed among the businesses allowed to have more than one non-running vehicle on their property at a time.
Despite the council's anxiety on certain points, the ordinance was passed.
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