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Bill to ease county vacation of roads dies

Fri., Feb. 17, 2012

Moran Prairie residents key in Olympia action

A bill to change the way county governments can vacate roads has died after residents living in the Moran Prairie area objected to the measure.

Controversy over the bill dates back to the Spokane County commissioners’ disputed vacation of Ben Burr Road at 57th Avenue to make room for a shopping center.

The measure would have removed language from state law that requires the county engineer to find that a road is no longer useful to the public.

County commissioners approved the vacation last fall after County Engineer Bob Brueggeman found that a plan to build a new access street for Ben Burr Road off the Palouse Highway along with a pedestrian trail would satisfy transportation needs in the area.

The vacation opens land needed for the shopping center development.

Former County Commissioner John Roskelley, who is running to reclaim his old commission seat, criticized the current commissioners for seeking the legislation.

He said the bill would weaken protections for public safety and access and that it smacked of an insider move.

State Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, allowed the bill to die in the House Rules Committee after receiving neighborhood opposition, a spokesman for his office said.

Commissioner Todd Mielke, whom Roskelley hopes to unseat this year, said the bill would have made street and road vacation laws consistent between cities and counties.

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