Chapter 12.55


12.55.010    Declaration of purpose.

12.55.020    Definitions.

12.55.030    Encroachment and use of right-of-way.

12.55.040    Approaches to county roads.

12.55.050    Franchised utilities.

12.55.060    Public nuisances within county right-of-way.

12.55.070    Cost of abatement of the violation.

12.55.080    Injunctive relief.

12.55.090    Remedies not exclusive.

12.55.100    Conflict with other regulations.

12.55.010 Declaration of purpose.

Unregulated encroachments or usage of county rights-of-way outside of established public access routes and roadways can threaten or endanger the public right-of-way or portions thereof, endanger county personnel and other persons therein, and obstruct or tend to obstruct or constitute a hazard to vehicles or persons traveling thereupon, contrary to the interests of public health, safety and the general welfare. [Ord. 16-106 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]

12.55.020 Definitions.

“Abate” or “abatement” means to repair, replace, remove, destroy or otherwise remedy any condition which constitutes a nuisance under this chapter by such means, in such a manner, and to such an extent as Cowlitz County determines is necessary in the interest of the general health, safety and welfare of the community.

“Department” means the County Department of Public Works.

“Encroachment or use” shall include actions or attempts intended to utilize, open, alter, excavate, cut, fill, disturb, repair, replace, grade, or break the surface of any county right-of-way, including construction, installation of improvements, appurtenances, utilities and services-related hardware, or to otherwise utilize the right-of-way without legal authority. The placing of new wire on legally sited public utility poles and the routine maintenance and repair of existing overhead wires, including existing, legally sited poles supporting such wires, is not included in this term.

“Right-of-way” shall have the same meaning as found in WAC 468-51-020. For purposes of this chapter, “right-of-way” shall also mean that measurement, equal on both sides of the center of the roadway, and with both equivalent sections coinciding with the recorded, dedicated, established or prescriptive right-of-way width.

“Roadway” shall mean a county road, primarily established and maintained in accordance with state law for purposes of public travel, including the entire area within the county right-of-way. [Ord. 16-106 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]

12.55.030 Encroachment and use of right-of-way.

Any party, public or private, encroaching upon or using a developed or undeveloped county right-of-way, not previously authorized by the Department, shall obtain a permit or license or franchise, as applicable, for such activities from the Department. [Ord. 16-106 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]

12.55.040 Approaches to county roads.

Any person wishing to construct or modify an approach onto any county roadway shall obtain a permit for such work within the right-of-way from the Department, pursuant to RCW 36.75.130. [Ord. 16-106 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]

12.55.050 Franchised utilities.

Any encroachment or use of the county right-of-way for a public or private utility, which includes but is not limited to electrical transmission, telecommunications, petroleum products, water, sewage, drainage, irrigation, and similar structures, pipes, lines or cables, and not owned or maintained by Cowlitz County (“county”), shall be franchised, and in compliance with its franchise and all federal, state and local laws, or shall be deemed a public nuisance. [Ord. 16-106 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]

12.55.060 Public nuisances within county right-of-way.

A. Whenever there shall exist upon the roadway of the county, or off the roadway in sufficiently close proximity thereto, an encroachment or use, including any structure, device or natural or artificial thing, which threatens or endangers such county roadway or portion thereof, or which tends to endanger persons traveling thereon, or obstructs or tends to obstruct or constitutes a hazard to vehicles or persons traveling thereon, such encroachment or use is hereby declared to be a public nuisance and the county is empowered to take such action as may be necessary to effect the abatement of the same.

B. Prior to commencing abatement measures, the Department shall make a reasonable attempt to notify the landowner of his duty to immediately remove the nuisance; provided, however, failure to actually notify said landowner shall not constitute a bar to the county taking appropriate abatement action to protect the public health, safety and general welfare as within the purview of this chapter.

C. Any such structure, device or natural or artificial thing encroaching within a county roadway and determined by the County Engineer to be immediately or eminently dangerous to the traveling public may be forthwith removed as directed by the Board of County Commissioners, and such removal shall in no way constitute a breach of the peace or a trespass.

D. Logs or materials dumped on any county roadway, rights-of-way, or county drainage ditch due to equipment failure or for any other reason shall be removed immediately. Logs remaining within the roadway or right-of-way or ditch, after reasonable attempts to notify the owner, shall be confiscated and removed or disposed of as directed by the Board of County Commissioners.

E. Personal property and/or solid waste belonging to an evicted tenant/owner placed onto a county roadway by the landlord/property owner or his/her designee, pursuant to a court-ordered eviction under RCW Title 59, must be removed within 24 hours from the roadway. Notice of such removal after 24 hours shall be given to the evicted tenant/owner of the personal property and/or solid waste or his/her designee or posted onto the personal property. If, after 24 hours, the evicted tenant/owner or designee has not removed the personal property and/or solid waste encroaching on the public roadway, the property/waste shall be deemed a nuisance, and the landlord/property owner or his/her designee shall remove the personal property and/or solid waste for proper disposal within 48 hours of issuing notice or the county shall seek to abate the nuisance and assess its abatement costs onto the property owner, which shall become a lien on said property pursuant to RCW 36.32.120.

F. The provisions of this chapter and treatment of “nuisance” are not exclusive, and may be used in addition to or in conjunction with other enforcement provisions, civil or criminal, or nuisance definitions provided for under County Code and state law. [Ord. 16-106 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]

12.55.070 Cost of abatement of the violation.

Within 30 days after abatement of the violation by the county, the owner of the property will be notified of the cost of abatement, including administrative costs. The property owner may file a written protest objecting to the amount of the assessment within 30 days of issuance of the abatement costs notification. If the amount due is not paid within a timely manner as determined by the Director of the Department or by the expiration date within which to file an appeal, the charges shall become a special assessment against the property and shall constitute a lien on the property for the amount of the assessment pursuant to the provisions of RCW 36.32.120(10). [Ord. 16-106 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]

12.55.080 Injunctive relief.

If a person has violated or continues to violate the provisions of this chapter, in addition to any other remedy provided herein the county may petition for a preliminary or permanent injunction restraining the person from activities which would create further violations or compelling the person to perform abatement or remediation of the violation. [Ord. 16-106 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]

12.55.090 Remedies not exclusive.

The remedies listed in this chapter are not exclusive of any other remedies available under any applicable federal, state or local law and it is within the discretion of the county to seek cumulative remedies. [Ord. 16-106 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]

12.55.100 Conflict with other regulations.

Except as may be expressly provided herein, this chapter is not intended to modify or repeal any provision of the Cowlitz County Code or any other ordinance, resolution or regulation. The requirements of this chapter are in addition to the requirements of the Cowlitz County Code and any other ordinance, resolution or regulation, and where any provision of this chapter is in conflict with any other section of the Cowlitz County Code, ordinances, resolutions, or regulations, the more restrictive regulation or the regulation that imposes higher protective standards for human health or the environment shall apply and such application shall extend to those specific provisions which are more restrictive. [Ord. 16-106 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]