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Liberty Lake shoreline improvements allowed to remain

Sat., June 23, 2012

Most of the shoreline improvements installed without proper permits by a Liberty Lake homeowner will be allowed to stay after a recent decision from the Spokane County hearing examiner, but a covered cabana/deck must be reduced in height.

Hearing examiner Mike Dempsey said he based his decision to grant the retroactive shoreline substantial development permit on expert testimony that the concrete steps, retaining walls and bulkheads were necessary to stabilize the slope below the home owned by Lloyd Herman at 24603 E. Tum Tum Drive.

The improvements to the site have been the subject of several lawsuits and a hearing before the Shorelines Hearing Board. Herman built a bulkhead, enlarged a concrete deck and added stairs in 1993. He was fined by the Department of Ecology for doing the work without a permit. A 1995 agreement stipulated that Herman would remove some of the improvements in exchange for dismissal of a $1,000 fine.

In 2001 Herman built an enclosed cabana on the concrete deck and made other improvements, for which he was fined $30,000 by the Department of Ecology in 2004.

Herman said the 1995 agreement said he should stabilize his hillside so he thought he didn’t need to get permits for any additional work. “I thought I had permission in the 1995 order,” he said. “All I have been doing is trying to do what is right for the hillside to make my home safe.”

In his decision Dempsey called the installation of the cabana a “gross violation” of the 1995 agreement and said the roof needed to be lowered because its size and bulk “detracts from the natural aesthetics and characteristics of the shoreline area.”

Herman said he was pleased by the decision. “It only took 19 years and $350,000 in attorney’s fees,” he said. “It will cost me less to change the roof than it did for the engineers to testify.”

The decision also includes requirements that Herman apply for a building permit, submit a revised site plan and a revised stormwater plan. Dempsey stipulated that the substantial development permit can be rescinded after a public hearing if Herman does not comply with the conditions.

Herman said a building permit he applied for previously has been reactivated. “We’re moving forward,” he said.

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