October 6, 2008

County Appeals Verdict in Selah Land Dispute Case

By Erin Snelgrove

Two months after a jury awarded a Selah woman more than $170,000 in a land dispute case, Yakima County is appealing the verdict.

Attorney Jamie Carmody, who is representing Maxine Schreiner, received notice of the appeal on Tuesday. The case will be forwarded to a three-judge panel in the Washington State Court of Appeals, based in Spokane.

The judges will likely render a decision either next year or in 2010, Carmody said.

"They keep pounding on her," Carmody said, adding that the appeal is a waste of taxpayer money. "I don't know if they think she'll break or give up or what, but I'm very disappointed in simply the attitude of the county."

Commissioner Mike Leita said he was dismayed in Carmody's decision to "prematurely fan the flames" with the media.

"We are simply seeking equitable justice on behalf of the county taxpayers," he said.

The case centers on the value of a 35-by-165 foot strip of land in front of Schreiner's house at 1100 Selah Loop Road. County officials were willing to pay about $42,500 for the land, which was needed for a $6.2 million road-expansion project. They maintained their offer would cover damages to her remaining property -- including her underground irrigation system and septic system.

After about three years of debate, the county obtained the land through eminent domain. Through eminent domain, public agencies are allowed to acquire a citizen's private property for highways, railroads and other public uses. Schreiner gave the county permission to take her land, but was unable to come to an agreement over how much she should be paid.

Schreiner had wanted $190,000 for the loss of landscaping features, including five century-old maple and sycamore trees. A jury ruled in her favor in July. Counting interest earned, the net judgment was more than $183,000. The county had already paid a little over $22,000 of that, Carmody said.

Erin Snelgrove can be reached at 577-7684 or [email protected]

Erin Snelgrove

Yakima Herald-Republic

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