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Emerson sues Island County planning department for second time
Island County Commissioner Kelly Emerson has filed a second lawsuit against the county, claiming the planning department is still refusing to grant her a building permit for her deck.
“I think that my husband and I have shown a sounding level of tolerance,” Emerson said Tuesday.
“The actions of the county staff are unacceptable.”
The Emersons are seeking a court injunction directing the planning department to issue the permit.
In late 2010, the couple began building a patio at their Camano Island home without a permit. Neighbors and constituents complained that she neglected to follow the permitting process, and the controversy has dragged out for nearly three years. The Emersons sued the county early on, but most of the time has been spent debating the existence of a wetland on the property which would prevent the new construction.
A settlement was reached in June, which absolved the Emersons from all but a fraction of an initial $37,000 fine. Island County was to return $2,000 in filing fees to the Emersons and, in return, the couple agreed to pay $5,000 in acknowledgement of mistakes made in the permitting process and submit a new wetlands report within 60 days.
According to court documents, the fine was paid and the report was filed on Aug. 27, but “to date, the department has not issued the building permit to the Emersons.”
Justin Kasting, a Snohomish County civil attorney who has been handling the case due to a conflict of interest at the Island County Prosecutor’s Office, could not be reached for comment Tuesday morning. In October, Kasting said the county had received the Emersons’ wetlands report, had responded with additional questions and that the Emersons refused to respond.
The lawsuit alleges that the county “does not have adequate basis” to deny the permit and that “the Emersons are suffering immediate and irreparable injury.”
The documents also accuse the county of a “breach of contract” and “fraudulent misrepresentation” in relation to the settlement.
In addition to the injunction, the Emersons are asking the court to compel the county to pay attorneys’ fees and costs incurred for a judgement on their complaint “in an amount proven at trial” and other “relief as this court seems just and equitable.”