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Officials correctly play out process

— Okanogan County commissioners and staff were booed Monday after postponing a decision on Three Devils Road.

At issue was whether the county should vacate Three Devils Road in the Chiliwist area. Gamble Land and Timber requested the vacation in February to help the firm curtail trespassing on its land, vandalism, poaching, dumping, etc. Chiliwist residents are nearly unanimous in their opposition to giving up the public right-of-way, the only route that directly connects the Chiliwist to the Methow Valley.

Commissioners were expected to make a decision Monday afternoon. They had received a recommendation from Okanogan County Hearings Examiner Dan Beardslee.

Beardslee’s recommendation had several findings of fact, including:

• The road has been part of the county road system on-and-off for years. And vacating it would eliminated access to publicly owned land managed by the state Department of Natural Resources.

• Seventeen local residents testified in opposition to the vacation; only one in favor. Beardslee wrote, “ There is overwhelming opposition to the vacation of the Three Devils Road.”

• In order to vacate a road, the petition must demonstrate and the hearings examiner find that the road is useless and that the public will benefit from vacation. The petitioner failed to show the road was useless.

While Beardslee had several other findings of fact, those are sufficient to compel the county to reject the vacation request.

But then there is the legal process. Gamble Land and Timber intends to ask for reconsideration of the Hearing Examiner’s recommendation. The clock for reconsideration expires next Monday.

Since county ordinances allow for reconsideration, commissioners did the right thing by letting the process play out.

Had they acted prematurely, this issue could drag out much longer and cost taxpayers more money.

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