Island County sued over driveway cut off by landslide repair

A Central Whidbey resident is suing the county because his driveway wasn’t reconnected to a road after access was cut off by the massive 2013 Ledgewood Beach landslide.

Clint Johnson filed a complaint for damages in Island County Superior Court May 1. He is alleging inverse condemnation, negligence and misrepresentation.

The early-morning landslide displaced 5.3 million cubic feet of earth, one house and a small area of woods in a matter of moments, according to a Department of Natural Resources report. The slide destroyed part of Driftwood Way and affected many other homes, but nobody was injured.

The county settled lawsuits in 2016 with residents who faulted officials for contributing to the instability of the area by not dealing with drainage issues properly. In addition, the county agreed to rebuild a portion of Driftwood Way.

Johnson’s lawsuit states that he granted the county a roadway and drainage easement so that the Driftwood Way repairs could be made. The lawsuits claims that county personnel assured Johnson that his driveway would be reconnected to the road.

The county, however, built up the roadbed significantly with landfill and did not reconnect the driveway.

“Mr. Johnson must now navigate nearly 100 yards of steep, treacherous slope of anti-erosion stone, about the size of softballs, placed by the county in order to reach his house,” the lawsuit states.

The increase in the height of the road means there is no way for Johnson to repair his own driveway without extremely costly improvements, the lawsuit states.

In 2018, Johnson went forward with rebuilding his driveway but received a cease and desist order from the county, which required him to obtain new permits and a new geotechnical report.

Johnson is asking for compensation for full or partial taking of his property and other damages.

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