Opinion

Another landowner deprived of due process

I enjoyed Dennis Wilken’s July 12 column (in which) he discusses the “...abuse of power and the desire to punish others who are doing no more than the very thing we often do...”

He tells us “...the hanging judges in our midst always develop a case of probationitis when their own interests somehow become involved.” It’s a soul-searching commentary.

He wonders if, in the right situation, he would vilify his fellow man in the same way. Dennis was speaking of Rick Neuheisel and the now-deposed Tacoma City Manager Ray Corpuz.

But Dennis’s column carries a much deeper message — one that should strike a chord in all of us.

I can’t help but relate Dennis’s column to the totally absurd battle that is going on in Manchester against a widow and a lot she owns on the corner of Alaska and Mile Hill Drive.

It’s a 1.25-acre parcel owned by Rose Burgess and her late husband, Wendy. They have owned it for years.

It’s a rather non-descript piece of land. No water view, no mountain view. It’s nowhere close to downtown Manchester. It’s a dusty piece of land that is across a busy highway from an old forgotten cemetery.

For years, commuters who live in and near Manchester have parked their vehicles there. I doubt if anybody ever asked Rose if it was OK to park there. They just did and Rose never said a word.

Local residents have displayed boats, trucks and cars for sale on Rose’s lot. The county came along sometime ago and put up some parking restriction signs on county right-of-way, but Rose did not request it.

Rose and Wendy and their son-in-law, Skip, kept the property up over the years. They’ve cleaned up garbage, construction debris, abandoned appliances, car parts — you name it — and borne the cost of disposal.

Wendy is gone and Skip is now a double-amputee. Rose can’t keep it up by herself. It’s not a suitable location for a home.

Rose has applied to the county for a re-zone.

My heavens, you would think Rose plans to put a slaughterhouse on that property. More than 400 people have signed a petition asking the county to deny her any use of that property except residential.

Four hundred people.

One resident is quoted in the Independent as saying, “Burgess is just trying to make out on the property at our expense.”

What expense? What expense could possibly be borne by the residents if the zoning were changed to “neighborhood business”? Violating the tenets of the “Manchester Village” plan?

This property is on the corner of Alaska Avenue and Mile Hill Drive, not Colchester and Main.

Even a wild stretch of one’s imagination could not say it violates the tenets of the “Manchester Village” plan.

As Dennis Wilken says in his column, “There is something so satisfying about making other people do what we think they should do.”

I know a lot of people in Manchester. It’s a nice community. I wonder just how many people signed the petition at a neighborhood grocery store without the full knowledge that they were depriving a good neighbor of a right we all have as U.S. citizens and property owners.

Who will stand up for their rights when they are violated? If any of those people are having second thoughts or if there are others who would like to support Rose, call County Commissioner Jan Angel at 337-7146 and tell her you do not want to deprive Rose of lawful due process for the rezone of her property.

Vivian Henderson is the

executive director of the

Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners.

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