09 25 2016
  12:13 am  
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GLACIER, Wash. (AP) -- When Lynden-area resident Joe King first saw a 25-acre property near this small mountain town, he figured it was a nice piece of property where he'd like to live some day.
But when he bought the land at auction last month, he had no idea that since his last visit, people had invested thousands of dollars and used dozens of volunteers to build an unauthorized skate park there.
Now Whatcom County says King must ensure the structures are properly permitted, if they're to remain, and says he could be fined if he doesn't comply. Even if he gets a permit, which would cost thousands of dollars, King still faces liability issues from potential skate park injuries.
But the Glacier Chamber of Commerce plans to write letters
to the county in support of the park, which has been heavily used.
And the people who made the park are forming a committee to support it.
``I find myself stuck between a rock and a hard spot,'' said King, who admires the work and quality of the park.
Around 2005, people began building skate park structures on the property, which is south of Glacier along Coal Creek Road. Years ago, coal mining and loading operations took place there, said Jeremy Miller, a supporter of the park.
The corporate landowner at the time, Crown Pacific, didn't seem to notice the park.
The park effort snowballed, with roughly 30 to 50 people donating their time and labor. Volunteers researched how to build skate park features with precision. Contractors donated concrete.
The park attracted skateboarders from as far away as Seattle.
``Support is huge,'' Miller said. ``That's pretty much what we're trying to show, that this is a really positive thing and needs to be preserved.''
On Nov. 20, the county sold the property at auction because Crown Pacific hadn't paid taxes on it.
Before the auction, county planners discovered the skate park, which needs approval through a conditional-use permit. The responsibility fell to King.
``I feel sorry for him in the sense that he's in a little bit of a quandary,'' said Suzanne Bosman, county senior planner for code compliance.
She sent King a notice of violation, and he has until mid-January to respond. Given the situation and the winter weather, King can provide written notice of what he plans to do, instead of immediately getting a permit or demolishing the park, she said.
``I need to know what his goal is,'' Bosman said.
King doesn't see many options.
``If I own the property this summer, it's got to come out,'' he said. ``I'm about to become the most unpopular guy in Glacier, unfortunately.''

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