Chapter 12.40


12.40.010    Purpose.

12.40.020    Classification.

12.40.030    Definitions.

12.40.040    Application.

12.40.045    Fees.

12.40.050    Process.

12.40.055    Compensation.

12.40.060    Apportionment of compensation and costs.

12.40.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide uniform criteria for the application, valuation, and reimbursement to Cowlitz County for vacation of its county roads pursuant to the Road and Bridges Vacation Act (Chapter 36.87 RCW). [Ord. 16-105 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]

12.40.020 Classification.

In applying this chapter, the County Engineer shall be responsible for classifying all county roads for which public expenditures were made in the acquisition, improvement, or maintenance of the same, according to the type and amount of expenditures made and the nature of Cowlitz County’s property interest in the road; and separately responsible for classifying county roads for which public expenditures have not been made in the acquisition, improvement or maintenance of the same, and according to the nature of County’s property interest in the road. [Ord. 16-105 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]

12.40.030 Definitions.

“County” means Cowlitz County, state of Washington.

“County road” means a public right-of-way which lies outside the limits of any incorporated city, and that has been dedicated to, deeded to, established by usage, maintained, or otherwise established by the county. Such county roads shall be classified as follows:

1. “Class A” means any county road right-of-way, public use right-of-way and/or active county road located in the unincorporated areas of the county and which has been assigned a county road number or is in the county road maintenance logs; and

a. For which the county acquired through full market value in fee simple; or

b. Was acquired by plat dedication, waiver, right-of-way deed or easement and has had public funds spent in the acquisition, development, improvement, maintenance or management of said right-of-way or roadway.

2. “Class B” means any county road right-of-way or public use right-of-way located in the unincorporated areas of the county which are either opened or unopened; and

a. No documented public funds have been spent in the acquisition, development, improvement, maintenance or management of said right-of-way.

3. “Class C” means any right-of-way where any public interest in that right-of-way was extinguished (or vacated) automatically by operation of law, prior to March 12, 1904, because they remained unopened for five years after authority was granted for opening them in accordance with Section 32, Ch. 19, F. 603, Laws of 1889-1890. The county lacks authority for any procedure, formal or informal, that formalizes the automatic extinguishment of the public interest in a Class C right-of-way. [Ord. 16-105 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]

12.40.040 Application.

Petitions for Class A and Class B road vacations shall be submitted, along with fees as provided for by the Board of County Commissioners, in writing to the Department of Public Works. The petition shall be signed by the owners of a majority of the frontage of the county road or portion thereof proposed to be vacated. The petition shall name a principal petitioner, show the land owned by each petitioner, and set forth facts that the county road is useless as a part of the county road system and that the public will be benefited by its vacation and abandonment. [Ord. 16-105 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]

12.40.045 Fees.

Each petition for a vacation of a road or right-of-way shall be accompanied by the road vacation fee adopted by the Board of County Commissioners to cover the costs and expenses of the proceeding. [Ord. 16-105 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]

12.40.050 Process.

The process for vacation of a road or right-of-way shall be as described in Chapter 36.87 RCW except as supplemented or modified in this chapter. [Ord. 16-105 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]

12.40.055 Compensation.

A. County may require as a condition precedent to the vacation of Class A roads and rights-of-way the receipt of compensation from the person or persons benefiting from said vacation. The compensation shall include, but not be limited to, all or a percentage of the appraised, fair market value of the vacated road or right-of-way as of the effective date of the vacation. The valuation basis for compensating the county for the “land value” component on any right-of-way being vacated will be determined by the “across the fence value.” The “across the fence value” will be the adjacent parcel’s current fair market assessed land valuation as established by the County Assessor’s Office, or by county acquisition documents of record, whichever value is greater. In the absence of a fair market assessed land value being determined by the County Assessor’s Office or if the county determines a separate appraisal is warranted, a current appraisal will be performed by county staff. Any and all costs associated with appraisal(s) will be reimbursed to the county according to RCW 36.87.120.

B. Compensation shall not be required if:

1. The vacation is initiated by county due to environmental or topographical conditions; or

2. The petitioner is the original grantor and no public expenditure was made; or

3. The vacation is part of a Class C road court action by the landowner(s) to clear title.

C. Alternate compensation may be provided in lieu of the monetary amounts defined above when the County Road Engineer has recommended in the Engineer’s report that the proposed “in kind” or alternate compensation has value that equals or exceeds the dollar amount due and owing the county for the proposed vacation. The Board of County Commissioners may choose to accept or reject this written recommendation of the county road engineer. Alternate compensation may include, but not be limited to, the exchange of property and/or improvements provided by the petitioner(s). [Ord. 16-105 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]

12.40.060 Apportionment of compensation and costs.

Compensation consisting of the appraised value of a Class A road shall be credited to the County Road Fund. Administrative costs shall be credited to the respective county departments facilitating the processing of the vacation. [Ord. 16-105 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]