Chapter 12.10
ROAD VACATIONS

Sections:

12.10.010    Purpose.

12.10.020    Definitions.

12.10.030    Scope.

12.10.040    Application.

12.10.050    Department of public works – Duties.

12.10.060    Department of community development – Duties.

12.10.070    Other applicable departments, agencies, and offices.

12.10.080    Hearing examiner – Duties.

12.10.090    Board of county commissioners – Duties.

12.10.100    Class C road vacations.

12.10.110    Review criteria.

12.10.120    Administration – Compensation requirement.

12.10.130    Legislative action.

12.10.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide uniform criteria for the vacation of county roads within Jefferson County pursuant to the Roads and Bridges Vacation Act (Chapter 36.87 RCW). [Ord. 5-01 § 1]

12.10.020 Definitions.

“County” means Jefferson 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:

(a) Class A. Roads established, dedicated to, deeded to, or otherwise established by the county for which no public expenditures have been made in the acquisition, improvement, or maintenance of same except those roads platted prior to March 12, 1904, which remained unopened for public use for a period of five years after authority was granted for opening them.

(b) Class B. Roads established, dedicated to, deeded to, or otherwise established by the county for which public expenditures have been made in the acquisition, improvement, or maintenance of same except those roads platted prior to March 12, 1904, which remained unopened for public use for a period of five years after authority was granted for opening them.

(c) Class C. Roads dedicated on a plat that was filed before March 12, 1904, which remained unopened for public use for a period of five years after authority was granted for opening them.

“Principal petitioner” means one of the owners of the frontage of the road (or portion of road) that is the subject of the proposed vacation designated within the petition to the county as the principal petitioner. The principal petitioner shall serve as the liaison between the owners of the frontage and the county’s public works department and shall be the sole person that public works will contact with respect to any specific application for a vacation. The principal petitioner shall be responsible to pay all fees and costs, including the “compensation requirement” outlined in JCC 12.10.120, that are associated with this proposed vacation. Nothing shall prevent the principal petitioner from obtaining monies from other persons owning frontage on the road (or portion of road) to be vacated to satisfy the fees and costs that might be associated with a particular request for a vacation. The principal petitioner and not the county shall be solely responsible for collecting such funds from the other persons owning frontage on the road (or portion of road) to be vacated. [Ord. 5-01 § 2]

12.10.030 Scope.

This chapter shall apply to petitions for the vacation of all or portions of a county road within Jefferson County. This chapter also sets forth that there is no petition procedure available for Class C roads. [Ord. 5-01 § 3]

12.10.040 Application.

(1) Petitions for Class A and Class B road vacations shall be submitted, along with fees as provided by the board of county commissioners as set forth in the fee schedule ordinance, in writing to the department of public works. The petition shall be signed by a majority of owners of the frontage of the road or portion thereof proposed to be vacated. The petition shall name a principal petitioner. The petition must show the land owned by each petitioner and set forth that such county road is useless as a part of the county road system and that the public will be benefited by its vacation and abandonment. All fees and costs described herein shall be paid prior to the vacation becoming effective. JCC 12.10.100 shall apply to Class C roads; JCC 12.10.040 through 12.10.090 shall pertain to the vacation of Class A and Class B roads.

(2) The board of county commissioners may initiate vacation action by resolution when:

(a) Requested to do so by the county engineer;

(b) The county is desirous of initiating a property exchange for relocation of a right-of-way to a better location, or for greenbelt purposes;

(c) The right-of-way lies within county property;

(d) The right-of-way lies within other public lands. [Ord. 5-01 § 4.10]

12.10.050 Department of public works – Duties.

(1) The Jefferson County department of public works shall accept the road vacation petition and fee. The department shall provide preapplication consultation to the principal petitioner. The department of public works shall contact the department of community development and other applicable departments, agencies and offices requesting that they review such vacation and return any and all comments to the department of public works. The department of public works shall also contact all adjacent property owners within a 300-foot radius of the portion of the road requested for vacation. After the Jefferson County department of community development establishes the date of public hearing, the department of public works shall review the petition and post each terminus of the subject road with a public notice stating the fixed date of the public hearing. Such public notice shall be posted at least 20 days prior to the fixed date of the public hearing.

(2) The department of public works shall examine the proposed road vacation and produce a written report for the hearing examiner record that includes the county engineer’s opinion as to:

(a) Whether or not the subject road should be vacated;

(b) Whether or not the road has been in use;

(c) What the condition of the road is;

(d) Whether or not it is advisable to preserve the road for the county road system in the future;

(e) Whether or not the public will benefit by such vacation;

(f) Whether public expenditures have been made in the acquisition, improvement, or maintenance of the subject road, and the amount of said expenditures; and

(g) Any other applicable facts or information.

(3) The department of public works shall prepare a written staff report for the hearing examiner’s review and recommendation.

(4) The department of public works shall then forward the hearing examiner’s recommendations and appropriate information to the board of county commissioners.

(5) The department of public works shall submit a bill for the cost of such an examination and report. The petitioners shall be responsible for payment of these costs prior to the vacation becoming effective. When directed by the hearing examiner, the department of public works shall also provide an estimated amount of past county expenditures on the subject road. [Ord. 5-01 § 4.20]

12.10.060 Department of community development – Duties.

(1) The department of community development shall review the petition and prepare a written report that includes:

(a) The road vacation’s consistency with the Jefferson County comprehensive plan and any other applicable plans, policies, or ordinances;

(b) Whether environmentally sensitive areas exist in the vicinity which might be affected by the vacation; and

(c) Any other applicable facts or information.

This report shall be submitted to the department of public works for inclusion in the staff report. The department of community development may also submit to the department of public works a bill for costs in conducting their review and developing their report.

(2) The Jefferson County department of community development shall establish the date and place of the public hearing with the hearing examiner. This date shall be selected in accordance with the Jefferson County hearing examiner’s regular schedule. The Jefferson County department of public works shall ensure that notice of the public hearing is published in a newspaper having countywide circulation at least once a week for two consecutive weeks prior to the fixed date of the hearing. [Ord. 5-01 § 4.30]

12.10.070 Other applicable departments, agencies, and offices.

When appropriate, the following departments, agencies, and offices shall be contacted to review and comment on the petition: the water supply provider, the water treatment provider, the electric power provider, the telephone service provider, the Jefferson County sheriff’s office, the local fire district, the emergency medical services provider, and any other applicable departments, agencies, and offices. [Ord. 5-01 § 4.40]

12.10.080 Hearing examiner – Duties.

In accordance with RCW 36.87.060, the hearing examiner shall hold a public hearing on all petitions for road vacations. The examiner shall review the road vacation petition, the written staff report(s), and the criteria contained in JCC 12.10.110, and shall receive public testimony in support of or in opposition to the proposed road vacation. The hearing examiner shall then issue a written record of recommendation to grant or deny the petition, with any conditions of approval. [Ord. 5-01 § 4.50]

12.10.090 Board of county commissioners – Duties.

(1) The Jefferson County board of commissioners shall review the report and recommendation of the Jefferson County hearing examiner. The Jefferson County board of commissioners shall either deny or accept and adopt, in whole or in part, the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of the hearing examiner, and shall make a final determination whether the request shall be denied, approved, approved with conditions, or approved in part. The board of county commissioners may make separate or revised findings and conclusions. These shall be based upon testimony presented at the public meeting at which the hearing examiner’s recommendation is considered.

(2) As a special condition for granting approval of the road vacation petition, the board of county commissioners may:

(a) Retain an easement within the subject vacated area for the construction, repair, and maintenance of public utilities and services, pursuant to RCW 36.87.140 and JCC 12.10.110; and/or

(b) Retain an easement within the subject vacated area for trail or pathway purposes, pursuant to JCC 12.10.110 and in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 7 of the Jefferson County comprehensive parks plan. [Ord. 5-01 § 4.60]

12.10.100 Class C road vacations.

In accordance with Section 32, Ch. 19, P. 603, Laws of 1889-1890, roads classified as Class C roads in this chapter are roads where any public interest in that road was extinguished (or “vacated”) automatically by operation of law because they remained unopened for five years after authority was granted for opening them. As such, Jefferson County does not offer any procedure, formal or informal, that would recognize or formalize this automatic extinguishment of the public’s interest in a Class C road. [Ord. 5-01 § 4.70]

12.10.110 Review criteria.

Road vacation petitions shall be reviewed according to the following criteria:

(1) The proposed road vacation complies with the Jefferson County comprehensive plan and any other applicable plans, policies, or ordinances.

(2) Roads should not be closed, vacated, or abandoned when land uses or development plans, or occurring patterns, indicate their usefulness for area circulation. Prior to a vacation decision, an examination should be made of its probable effect on overall area circulation in the neighborhood. Single or multiple vacations should be considered a positive tool toward improving neighborhood circulation and accesses.

(3) The effectiveness of fire, medical, law enforcement, or other emergency services should not be impaired by the closure, vacation, or abandonment of county roads. Appropriate authorities should be consulted with respect to this policy.

(4) Roads should not be closed, vacated, or abandoned when such routes can effectively be used for utility corridors. Suitable utility easements could be retained as a means of satisfying this policy. Public and private utility companies and their plans should be consulted with respect to this policy. In compliance with RCW 36.87.140, the board of county commissioners may retain an easement within the subject vacated area for the construction, repair, and maintenance of public utilities and services.

(5) Roads should not be closed, vacated, or abandoned when such routes can be effectively used for trails or pathways. Suitable trail easements could be retained as a means of satisfying this policy. The Jefferson County parks, recreation, and open space plan should be used as a guide to determine trail needs.

(6) In compliance with RCW 36.87.130, no county road or part thereof should be vacated that abuts on a body of salt or fresh water, unless the vacation is to enable any public authority to acquire the vacated property for port purposes, boat moorage, or launching sites or for park, viewpoint, recreational, educational, or other public purposes, or unless the property is zoned for industrial purposes.

(7) The proposed vacation will not land lock any parcel of property. [Ord. 5-01 § 5]

12.10.120 Administration – Compensation requirement.

The board of county commissioners shall require compensation by the principal petitioner(s) for all Class A and Class B vacated rights-of-way in compliance with RCW 36.87.120. All resolutions vacating any street, right-of-way or alley, or part thereof, shall provide that the same shall not become effective until the principal petitioners abutting upon the street, right-of-way or alley, or part thereof so vacated, pay to the county the sum of the “base payment” and any applicable “additional payment” as those terms are defined and listed within this section.

(1) Base Payment. The principal petitioner(s) shall pay, with respect to the vacation of either or both Class A and Class B roads or rights-of-way a sum equal to one-half of the current fair market value (as of the date of the petition) of the area so vacated if the county holds title through a dedication, or the full current fair market value (as of the date of the petition) if the county acquired the subject rights-of-way other than by dedication, e.g., fee simple interest.

(2) Additional Payment. With respect to vacation of a Class A road or rights-of-way, and in addition to the base payment described above, the principal petitioner(s) shall pay to the county any and all other administrative costs incurred by the county in vacating the road.

With respect to vacation of a Class B road or rights-of-way, and in addition to the base payment described above, the principal petitioner(s) shall pay to the county an amount equal to the amount of public expenditures made in improvement or maintenance of the road or rights-of-way (or a portion of any road or rights-of-way) that is the subject of the proposed vacation, and all other administrative costs incurred by the county in vacating the road. To the extent the county can not, because of missing, destroyed or incomplete records, determine the precise amount expended for the improvement or maintenance of a road or rights-of-way (or a portion of that road or rights-of-way) that is the subject of a proposed vacation, then the county shall be entitled to compensation equal to the amount spent on “improvement and maintenance” of that road or rights-of-way between January 1, 1994, and the date of the petition.

(3) Valuation Procedure. For all Class A and Class B vacation petitions, the principal petitioner(s) shall provide a fair market appraisal from an appraiser licensed by the state of Washington. Jefferson County shall have the right to review, accept or reject any appraisal and may do so with an internal report or an appraisal provided by a private state-licensed appraiser. If agreement on value is not reached after the county’s appraisal, then Jefferson County may decline to vacate the right-of-way. If the county agrees to do so in writing, then the parties may select a mutually agreed upon neutral master appraiser, whose appraisal shall be final and binding upon the parties, and whose fee shall be paid for equally by both parties.

Alternate compensation may be provided in lieu of the monetary amounts defined above when the department of public works has stated in writing to the board of county commissioners that the proposed “in kind” or alternate compensation has value that equals or exceeds the dollar amount due and owing to the county for the proposed vacation. The board of county commissioners may choose to accept or reject this written recommendation of the department of public works. Alternate compensation shall include but not be limited to the exchange of property and/or improvements provided by the petitioner(s).

Compensation shall be paid into the Jefferson County road fund subsequent to the board of county commissioners approval of road vacations and prior to the signing of the vacation resolution.

Compensation and all other amounts and fees due and owing to the county must be paid within one year of approval of the request by the board of county commissioners. If any sums owed the county are not paid and/or conditions of approval are not met within one year of the board of county commissioners’ approval of the vacation request as reflected in the approving resolution, then approval may be rescinded upon notice by mail to the principal petitioner(s). Should the request be denied, reimbursement to Jefferson County of all costs of processing the request shall be the responsibility of the principal petitioner. [Ord. 5-01 § 6]

12.10.130 Legislative action.

(1) At a regular public meeting, the board of county commissioners shall review the hearing examiner’s report and recommendation, and may, at the discretion of the board, accept public testimony in support of or in opposition to the proposed road vacation. The board of county commissioners, by a majority vote, shall then grant or deny the petition.

(2) As a special condition for granting approval of a road vacation petition, the board of county commissioners may:

(a) Retain an easement within the subject vacated area for the construction, repair, and maintenance of public utilities and services, pursuant to RCW 36.87.140 and JCC 12.10.110; and/or

(b) Retain an easement within the subject vacated area for trail/pathway purposes, pursuant to JCC 12.10.110. [Ord. 5-01 § 7]