The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Commissioners use bullying tactics

 

March 30, 2017



Commissioners use bullying tactics

To The Eagle:

I’m writing today because I feel my words are falling on deaf ears when I speak directly to our county commissioners. I am being totally ignored by the county commissioners.

For the last couple of years, we have heard of a few people living along the Columbia River that are having issues with erosion of the river bank in front of their homes. And still fewer are actually in danger of losing their homes to the river’s erosion. The commissioners were working with these individuals and assisting them in an effort to get the Army Corp of Engineers to place dredge spoils in front of their homes.

Imagine my shock last August when I found out I was included, along with several other landowners, in a “flood zone” and more specifically in an “erosion zone” and the commissioners were going to “help me with my problem.” I wrote them a letter explaining that I have never experienced any erosion on my properties. I have lived on N Welcome Slough for nearly 30 years and have pictures to prove that I have never lost any land to the river. I imagine no one will be surprised to find out that the commissioners did not listen to me then and they are not listening now. A week after I wrote the commissioners, they voted to place me and my neighbors in a flood zone and tax me because they needed money for others that really do have an erosion problem. In 2017, this will cost me $410.71 and I get nothing in return. Don’t get me wrong, I think that if money is necessary to save lives and property, the commissioners do have the right to go to all property owners within the county and levy a tax to raise the necessary funds. But, I feel they do not have the right to tax some and not others.

Shortly after I found myself squarely in the middle of a flood zone, the commissioners sent me (and all my neighbors) a legal document they wanted me to sign so they could cross my property and pile sand in front of my house. We live by the river because we enjoy the view of the river. I don’t want to look over a bunch of sand. So, I told them I would not sign their document and requested they and their agents stay off my property.

Then three weeks ago, an article came out on the front page of The Eagle titled “right-of-entry permits ready to distribute.” In that article, Commissioner Blair Brady stated that “Not signing is not an option.” This comment was directed at the people in the “flood zones” the commissioners created in August of 2016 that had not signed the original right-of-entry permit, like me. The article also stated that the commissioners were going to go “door to door” and bring a notary with them in an effort to force property owners to sign this document. I attended the next commissioners’ meeting and asked Mr. Brady if he really did say those things, and he confirmed he did. I asked if that was his way of intimidating owners into signing away their property rights. I again stated that I would not sign this easement. To which he replied to me “Wait until you see the wording on the new easement.”

A few days later, I got my copy of said easement and a letter from the commissioners. The letter said in part, “Please remember that many of your friends’ and neighbors’ homes are currently at risk due to erosion, and some are in immediate jeopardy. Should a property owner choose not to participate, it will result in the loss of homes and the potential shattering of lives. This project must be completed for the preservation of our community.” Enclosed with the letter was a document titled “QUIT CLAIM DEED.” This document is an easement for the next 20 years that would allow the county to do whatever they want to the beach in front of my house.

After I addressed the commissioners about my concerns, I received several phone calls from others who feel the same as I do about these new “flood zones” and the taking of our property by our county commissioners.

I am writing today because I know there are a great many people in our county who are thinking just like I was, thinking that the commissioners were just trying to help out a handful of property owners that are having issues with the river and erosion. I hope this information bothers you as much as it does me. Our commissioners are going way too far and being way too pushy with some of our local citizens. If you are offended by the forceful wording the commissioners are using, let them know about it.

Steve Sharp

Puget Island

 

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