Opinion: Opposed to County policy to require permits for driveway maintenance

Below is a copy of an email that I sent to the BOCC;

Dear Commissioners,

By now I’m sure you have seen this article in the Kitsap Sun. In an attempt to keep from overruling the DCD, the hearing examiner has effectively outlawed the maintenance of every private driveway in the county if it is done without a permit. The examiner stated that “adding gravel on top of the existing driveway must be considered an alteration — defined as “change” — regardless of any possible widening.” He went on to add that “ if the code had included an exemption for maintenance with no widening of the driveway, the issue might have been decided differently.”

“This ruling flies in the face of the intent of the code.” The BOCC needs to pass a retroactive addition to the county code to allow maintenance on existing driveways. Failing to do so will leave property owners open to the whim of code enforcement and unable to maintain their own drives without fear of citation. Sincerely,

CE (Name and Address on File)

Editor’s Note

For Clarity we have attached the Hearing Examiner Ruling 14_00340_NOD_KRRC_AdminAppeal that CE referred to.

There are several statements in the Hearing Examiner’s ruling that you should be aware of:

1. “The responsibility of the Hearing Examiner is to review the decision of the County Director’s Ruling to determine if an error was made. The Appellant has the burden of proof to show that the Director of the Department of Community Development erred in his decision…”

2. ” The Hearing Examiner must accord substantial deference to the County’s application of its own ordinances, especially, as here, where the Director of the Department of Community Development is the individual charged by the County Board of Commissioners with implementing the code.”

3. “A Road Approach Permit is required for any alteration of a vehicular access way (driveway) to a County road. The County Board of Commissioners adopted an ordinance which requires that anyone who “alters” an existing driveway must have a permit to do so. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, to “alter” means to “change.” The placement of new gravel on top of an existing driveway is a change from what once was to something that is now different. “

4 ” The Appellant altered the driveway without a permit or other approval of the County. The Appellant admitted to not having a permit, but reasonably believed that maintenance of a driveway would not require a permit. The County disagrees with this perspective, and takes the position that any change in the existing driveway requires a Road Approach Permit. There is not sufficient evidence to overturn this position of the Director, as it cannot be said to be ‘clearly erroneous’ given the language used by the Board. Had the Board expressly allowed for maintenance or for a change without widening the driveway, the Appellant may have had reason to overturn the Director’s ruling. That is not the case, however, so the Director’s ruling must be upheld.”



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