Chapter 12.30
UNOPENED RIGHTS-OF-WAY

Sections:

12.30.010    Purpose.

12.30.020    Definitions.

12.30.030    General.

12.30.040    Permits.

12.30.050    Trail permit.

12.30.060    Temporary use permit or license.

12.30.070    Additional permit and licensing requirements.

12.30.080    Cancellation.

12.30.090    Appeal.

12.30.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide the general public with uniform criteria to obtain a right-of-way permit, trail permit or temporary use permit or license in accordance with state and local laws and regulations. [Ord. 16-104 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]

12.30.020 Definitions.

“Board” means the Cowlitz Board of County Commissioners.

“Engineer” means the Cowlitz County Engineer.

“Private road standards” means the current Cowlitz County private road standards promulgated by the Engineer adopted by the Board for construction of roads under Chapter 16.15 CCC and County Resolution 01-157 to be opened for private use only.

“Public road standards” means the current Cowlitz County public road standards promulgated by the Engineer or adopted by the Board under Chapter 16.15 CCC and County Resolution 01-157 for construction of roads to be opened for general public use.

“Right-of-way permit” means a permit issued pursuant to this chapter or under Chapters 16.15 and 16.30 CCC and County Resolution 01-157 authorizing construction and permanent use of a road within the unopened or unmaintained county right-of-way for general public use and prospective inclusion on the system.

“Right-of-way use application” means an application to use unopened or unmaintained county right-of-way by one of the three permits defined above.

“System” means all roads that are part of the officially designated Cowlitz County road system established and adopted by the Board in accordance with state law.

“Temporary use permit or license” means a written approval issued by the County Engineer for the temporary access use of unopened or unmaintained county right-of-way for limited, short duration activities or purposes.

“Trail permit” means a permit issued pursuant to this chapter authorizing construction and permanent use of a privately maintained roadway within the unopened or unmaintained county right-of-way. [Ord. 16-104 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]

12.30.030 General.

Within Cowlitz County, there are occasional portions of dedicated or deeded public road rights-of-way that have been either not officially opened and established as county roads, or not formally vacated, by the county. From time to time, there is a desire by individuals or corporations to use said unopened county rights-of-way for road access. Nothing in this section should be construed as to allow other than road purpose access to private lands on unopened county rights-of-way. [Ord. 16-104 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]

12.30.040 Permits.

A. Unopened and/or unmaintained county road rights-of-way shall not be privately improved or used for access purposes, nor shall development approval necessitating such improvements or use be granted, unless a permit therefor has been issued pursuant to this chapter.

1. Access approvals issued prior to the effective date of the ordinance codified in this chapter shall remain in effect if improvements were constructed in accordance with the terms thereof. If not so constructed, such prior county approvals shall be null and void on the passage of the ordinance codified in this chapter.

2. The county, when feasible, shall consolidate right-of-way use permits with other development permits and when all requirements of this article are met, a separate right-of-way use permit shall not be required.

3. No permit shall be issued providing access to a lot or parcel created in violation of state and county subdivision regulations.

B. A right-of-way use application for a right-of-way permit, trail permit, or temporary use permit/license on forms provided by Cowlitz County is required to receive approval to use an unopened county right-of-way.

1. Upon filing of a complete application, payment of the fee and posting of a construction bond or approved letter of credit and dedication of additional right-of-way, if required, the Engineer may issue a permit authorizing the construction of road improvements and use thereof on unopened, unmaintained county road right-of-way for access to the applicant’s property.

a. If a right-of-way permit is requested, the Engineer shall consult with the Board before issuing such permit.

b. The right-of-way use permit application shall include:

c. A legal description of the lot(s), tract(s) or parcel(s) to be served;

d. A statement regarding the purpose of access to subject lot(s), tract(s) or parcel(s);

e. Proof of appropriate subdivision ordinance approval or, if exempt from platting process, an assessor’s map showing the lots served;

f. If there is no official road name, three choices for road name shall be submitted for approval at the time of permit application submittal.

C. A right-of-way permit shall be required when the anticipated or actual use serves three or more lots, parcels, or tracts and/or when an existing privately used and privately maintained county right-of-way is to be upgraded.

D. Roads fully meeting the public road standards, upon completion of construction and approval of the Engineer, may be proposed to the Board for formal establishment on the system.

E. Right-of-Way Permit Requirements.

1. Upon completion of required improvements for designation as a part of the system, the Engineer shall indicate approval on the permit application and make the appropriate notification to the Board.

2. If the width of the unopened right-of-way and the terrain prevent the proposed road from meeting the public road standards, the permit shall be denied.

3. The Board shall begin the process for establishment as a part of the system.

4. Upon final action of the Board for establishment as a part of the system, the Engineer shall enter the appropriate information into the official county records. [Ord. 16-104 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]

12.30.050 Trail permit.

A. A trail permit shall be required for opening public right-of-way when the anticipated or actual use is to provide access to not more than two lots, tracts, or parcels, including driveway use. Utility access will be included under this permit category, in conjunction with Chapter 16.30 CCC and associated regulations.

1. Trail Permit Requirements.

a. Upon completion of the required improvements, the Engineer shall indicate approval on the permit application, make the appropriate notification to the Board, and enter the appropriate information into the official county records. [Ord. 16-104 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]

12.30.060 Temporary use permit or license.

A. A temporary use permit shall be required for opening public right-of-way for all uses not intended to exceed two years in duration.

1. Temporary Use Requirements.

a. Road design requirements will vary depending upon the nature of the proposed use. Applicants shall consult with the Engineer before submitting an application for temporary use.

b. Upon completion of the required improvements, the Engineer shall indicate approval on the permit or license application, make the appropriate notification to the Board, and enter the appropriate information into the official county records.

c. Upon termination of the permitted use, the permittee shall be required to abandon the right-of-way and perform any required restoration. Applicants shall consult with the Engineer before submitting an application for temporary use. [Ord. 16-104 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]

12.30.070 Additional permit and licensing requirements.

In conjunction with the issuance of any permit or license under CCC 12.30.050 or 12.30.060, the permittee shall be subject to the following:

A. Permit application fees shall be established by the most recent Board resolution.

B. In addition to permit application fees, the applicant may be required to post a bond payable to Cowlitz County Treasurer for deposit in the Road Fund in amounts determined by the Engineer which:

1. Guarantee construction and maintenance of the roadway, drainage and retention/detention facilities in compliance with adopted standards; and

2. Guarantee restoration of the right-of-way to a condition consistent with the right-of-way use permit including blocking of access to the right-of-way at the expiration of the permit period.

C. In addition to permit application fees, the Engineer may require the applicant to provide liability insurance with Cowlitz County as an additional named insured on the applicant’s policy.

D. The Engineer may also determine that an environmental study of a drainage study is required to assure that adequate technical and environmental information is available to assure that legal requirements are appropriately addressed.

E. When required, such plans shall be prepared in accordance with the requirements of the County Engineer and adopted road standards. The first permit issued for previously unimproved right-of-way will require the permittee to clear and grub the total right-of-way width, to grade, drain, and surface the roadway in accordance with the roadway section chart and to make such additional improvements as may be required by the director and/or County Engineer. Each subsequent trail permit issued for right-of-way improved under prior permits shall require the permittee or permittees to further improve the constructed roadway as designated by the Engineer. Such additional improvements may include, but not be limited to, the following:

1. Second Permit. Remove any built-up sod from the existing roadway, regrade ditches and drainage ways, and provide a minimum gravel base and maximum gradient as set by the Engineer, across the center 20 feet of the roadway.

2. Third Permit. Remove any built-up sod from existing roadway, regrade ditches and drainage ways, regrade existing roadway and provide additional crushed surfacing top course and maximum gradient as set by the Engineer across the center 14 feet of roadway.

3. Additional Permits. Subsequent permittees shall add such additional crushed surfacing top course, regrade ditches and roadway and make such further improvements as may be necessary in the opinion of the Engineer. If considered appropriate, the Engineer may recommend to the Board the formation of a road improvement district (RID or LID).

F. The applicant shall, when determined necessary by the Engineer to define the right-of-way limits and at the applicant’s expense, cause a survey to be performed by a land surveyor licensed in the state of Washington. Such survey shall be recorded in accordance with the Washington State Survey Recording Act.

G. The applicant shall pay for all signing, including initial installation, required by the county:

1. For roads accepted onto the system, after the initial installation signing will be maintained by the county.

2. Ongoing signing maintenance for other roads permitted herein will be at the expense of the permittee.

3. As a minimum, signing shall be posted at its entrance with “Privately Maintained Road” and/or “End of County Maintained Road.”

H. An applicant shall be required to deed additional right-of-way across property under his/her authority when deemed necessary by the County Engineer to fulfill the minimum road right-of-way as required by County road standards.

I. The minimum road right-of-way widths to be five feet outside of the road prism when across property not under the applicant’s authority.

1. An applicant shall provide certification that all owners of the property abutting on each side of the unopened right-of-way have been provided written notification of the permit application. Any objections of such property owners shall be stated along with the manner in which the applicant proposed to resolve said objections.

J. The permit shall contain a statement regarding the use or disposition of timber, soil, rock, vegetation, or other materials found within the right-of-way.

1. The value of any materials removed from the site shall be paid to the Cowlitz County Treasurer for deposit in the Road Fund, based on an assessment by the Engineer.

2. If not otherwise used in the construction of roadway improvements, such materials shall be disposed of in accordance with the direction of the Engineer. Any affected fences located within the right-of-way shall be disposed of and/or relocated in accordance with the direction of the Engineer. The permittee shall coordinate with abutting landowners as appropriate, and provide that information to the Engineer.

K. The permit applicant shall assume sole responsibility for the safe and adequate operation and maintenance of any improvements to the county right-of-way during the period of time the permit is in effect. For those roads accepted onto the system, Cowlitz County will assume responsibility for all operation and maintenance following formal establishment proceedings.

L. The permit applicant may be required to record a covenant running with the land and for the benefit of the county which contains:

1. A legal description of the lot(s) or parcel(s) to be served by the right-of-way use permit;

2. A statement stating that access to such parcel is across a county right-of-way that is not maintained by the county, that the county is not responsible for maintenance of the right-of-way and that responsibility for maintenance of the road rests jointly and equally with the permit holder or assigns;

3. A statement that the owner of the parcel will not oppose participation in a county road improvement district, if formation of such a district is deemed necessary by the county;

4. A prohibition against subdividing such parcel without obtaining either plat or short plat approval therefor, or if exempt from platting, a right-of-way use permit for the additional lots being created;

5. A statement that the right-of-way use permit conditions are binding on the successors and assigns of the owner unless the permit is canceled per terms of this chapter; and

6. The acknowledged signature(s) of the owner of such parcel(s). [Ord. 16-104 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]

12.30.080 Cancellation.

A. Permits may be canceled by request of the permittee, by action of the Board based upon a recommendation by the Engineer, or by the action of a court of competent jurisdiction.

B. A request to cancel the permit by the permittee shall be reviewed by the Engineer and, absent outstanding issues regarding the permit conditions or road use, and compliance with all permit conditions, cancel the permit.

1. The Engineer may request the Board take action to cancel a permit for nonperformance or other relevant issues regarding conditions of the permit or road use.

2. Any action by a court of jurisdiction with the effect of nullifying significant portions of the permit shall cause the permit to be canceled.

3. If a permit is considered for cancellation for cause, the Engineer shall notify directly affected users and adjacent land owners, and shall consider their input before final action is taken.

4. When a right-of-way permit is canceled the Engineer shall enter the appropriate information into the official county records that the permit is considered null and void. [Ord. 16-104 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]

12.30.090 Appeal.

A. A permittee may appeal the action of the Engineer in imposing or denying conditions or otherwise acting upon a permit; provided, that a written request for reconsideration must first be filed with the Engineer within 30 days of the action complained of.

1. The request shall state what action is being questioned and the reason for the disagreement.

a. Upon receipt of this request, the Engineer may choose to affirm, reverse, or modify his prior action. Notice of the Engineer’s response shall be mailed to the permittee within 10 working days of the receipt of the request for reconsideration.

b. The Engineer’s action may thereafter be appealed to the Board by filing a written notice of appeal with the Clerk of the Board within 10 working days of the date of response from the Engineer for reconsideration.

c. The Clerk, upon receipt of a timely appeal, shall schedule a public meeting or place before the regular Board meeting at which time testimony will be taken from the permittee and from the Engineer.

B. Based upon the data supplied at this meeting and such other information as the Board may request, the Board may either sustain, reverse, or modify the action of the Engineer, so long as the action of the Board is not contrary to the requirements of this chapter and applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations. The decision of the Board shall be final and binding and not subject to further appeal. [Ord. 16-104 § 1 (Exh. A), 9-13-16.]