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Woman Told Home Is Illegal

A proposed law that would allow building in illegal subdivisions would not just help those with road problems.

Ask Sharon Babcock, who lived in her Rathdrum-area home more than a year before learning it had been built illegally.

Kootenai County gave out new addresses in Babcock’s Boekel Road neighborhood this winter to help police and rescue crews find homes in an emergency. Babcock’s house was overlooked.

When she called to ask why she was told “there’s not supposed to be a building here.”

A chain of owners had carved off corners of her land over the years and sold them. While the law allowed only four of those divisions, Babcock’s land had been split five or six times - none of which was apparent when she bought her 90-year-old house two years ago.

As a result, Babcock can’t build a deck or add a hot tub until she goes through legal hoops - and, possibly, public hearings - to bring her land up to code. That could cost $5,000 and take months. And since she still has an old address, Babcock is teaching her young daughter to give 911 operators a neighbor’s address in an emergency.

County Planning Director Cheri Howell said a zoning change that will be considered next month would bring land like Babcock’s into compliance and cost Babcock nothing.

“It would save her a lot of rigmarole,” Howell said.

Still, Babcock, a day-care worker, believes the county should crack down on people who sell illegal lots.

“If I’d been out here building this without a permit, they’d have come out and stopped me,” she said. “Why can’t they stop the sellers?”

The county has no authority to intervene when people buy and sell property.

, DataTimes MEMO: See related story under the headline: New access rules could help landowners

See related story under the headline: New access rules could help landowners

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