Washington’s Court of Appeals has upheld a $30,000 state fine against a Liberty Lake homeowner who built a concrete pier, a covered deck, retaining walls and other unauthorized structures on the lake’s shoreline.
As part of the ruling, Lloyd Herman must remove some of the structures built without permits at 24603 E. Tum Tum Drive, or make them smaller to comply with earlier court rulings, said Brian Farmer, a section manager for the Washington Department of Ecology’s shoreline program.
Any development within 200 feet of the high-water mark requires a shoreline permit. The permits are designed to protect lake and stream water quality by preserving natural riparian areas to filter runoff and prevent bank erosion, Farmer said.
Violations on Herman’s property first came to the department’s attention during the 1990s, when Herman was fined $1,000 and ordered to take corrective action. Since then, Herman has further developed the property without permits, according to court documents. He enclosed a deck, adding a peaked roof to resemble the historic Liberty Lake Pavilion; built a serpentine flight of concrete steps from the deck of his home to the lake; and added retaining walls to the hillside above the lake, the documents said.
“This person didn’t take corrective action, and he expanded the violation,” Farmer said of Herman.
Herman, a Spokane Valley attorney, was unrepentant Wednesday. His 3,100-square foot house – which is valued at $653,000 according to Spokane County Assessor’s office – is built on a hillside about 60 feet above Liberty Lake. As the hillside shifted, cracks appeared in the walls and foundation of the house, Herman said.
He said he had retaining walls built to stabilize the hillside, and he believes that the walls and later work done without permits was allowed in a 1995 settlement with the Ecology Department.
“This whole thing is over protecting my house from the government,” said Herman, who described the legal dispute as “an over-aggressive government doing this to me in a mean-spirited way.”
The house has been in Herman’s family since his father purchased it in 1953. After Herman bought the house in 1970, he gradually added features to the shoreline. The work included replacing a dirt and timber trail with the concrete steps, installing a crane to lift a 22-foot sailboat out of the water, enlarging and enclosing a deck, and adding a sink and toilet that are connected to the sewer system.
“When we did the work … we didn’t know that permits were required,” Herman said. “It was very minor work.”
Ecology officials disagreed that the work was minor. In 2004, the department issued the $30,000 fine to Herman, saying he had violated his earlier settlement with the state.
The case has been through several appeals since then, including a Spokane County Superior Court ruling in Herman’s favor.
Herman said that he’ll ask the Court of Appeals to reconsider its decision.
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