By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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Instead, commissioners said they will keep the $664,000 project listed as unfunded in the county’s six-year road plan while a related lawsuit works its way through the courts.
The county Planning Commission voted in October to endorse the 2013-to-2018 transportation improvement program with a few suggestions.
One suggestion was to scrap the idle Striped Peak Road project and to restructure a junior taxing district using a cost-benefit method, meaning residents who would benefit the most would pay more.
The county approved a Striped Peak road improvement district in 2010 to pay for the widening and paving of the narrow road near Freshwater Bay west of Port Angeles.
Area residents, many of whom support the road improvements, would have paid an equal percent from property taxes over 20 years.
One resident sued the county, saying the junior taxing district was formed illegally. The lawsuit still is pending.
Commissioners Nov. 27 postponed a vote on the road plan to get advice from Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols.
Nichols credited the Planning Commission for its recommendations but advised against restructuring the road district “given the specific posture of the litigation as it currently exists.”
“I don’t think it’s advisable for this board to dissolve the existing road improvement district and breathe new life into an new district,” Nichols said.
“Practically speaking, I think all it would do is serve to exchange one problem for potentially numerous [problems], so I can’t recommend that at this point in time.”
When questioned by Commissioner Mike Chapman, Nichols said he was comfortable with the county’s two-pronged approach of listing the Striped Peak project as unfunded as litigation continues.
The Striped Peak project would pave a 0.41-mile stretch of the lower road with two inches of asphalt. The road would be widened to 24 feet.
The road has experienced growing volumes of residential, recreational and logging traffic over the years.
No Striped Peak Road residents testified at a public hearing on the road plan last week.
The Planning Commission also recommended a review of county spending for traffic policing. Commissioners said they would review the funding on an annual basis.
The Planning Commission also suggested a study of upgrades to Pioneer and Ennis Creek roads east of Port Angeles for the safety of students walking to and from Roosevelt Elementary School. Paving and widening those roads would cost a combined $1.08 million.
The proposed road plan has 25 funded projects totaling $24.6 million and 40 unfunded projects totaling $35.2 million.
It reflects the loss of funding from the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000, which helps rural counties like Clallam and Jefferson compensate for lost timber revenue.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.