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Washington Voices

Decision mixed in roundabout case

Apartment driveway dispute may still go to trial

The Washington State Court of Appeals handed down a mixed decision in an unpublished opinion released last week on the lawsuit between the owners of the Montgomery Court Apartments and the city of Spokane Valley over a roundabout.

The roundabout was constructed at the intersection of Wilbur Road, Montgomery Drive and Mansfield Avenue just west of Pines Road in 2008. It caused an immediate stir when apartment residents realized that traffic eastbound on Montgomery could not turn north onto Wilbur to get into the apartment complex.

The owners of the complex, identified as Jon and Mary L. Gibson and Wesley and Jeanna Hill, sued the city on the grounds that blocking traffic from their entrance was an illegal condemnation of their land and an unconstitutional taking of their property. The property owners also alleged that the city reneged on an agreement to build a new entrance to the complex on Montgomery to make up for the new traffic flow restrictions.

A Spokane County Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the city, but did not address the agreement to build a new entrance. Last week the Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of the condemnation claim but said the property owners are entitled to a trial to determine if the city should be required to build the new entrance.

“In sum, travelers on Montgomery lost the convenience of a left turn on Wilbur,” the Court of Appeal decision reads. “This is not a compensable taking under Washington law.”

The claim that the city promised to build a new entrance was supported by evidence presented in court, the decision said.

Both sides have 30 days to ask the Washington State Supreme Court to review the decision. “We don’t comment on active litigation,” said Spokane Valley City Attorney Cary Driskell.

The property owners did not respond to a request for comment.