Spilling the dirt

The city of Asotin has issued a stop-work order on a project at the end of Filmore Street, where property owner Chris Segroves moved dirt on the city-owned slope leading to his acreage at the top of the hill without the city’s permission. Segroves told the Tribune he’s giving up on the project and plans to sell his land.

ASOTIN — A highly visible project at the end of Filmore Street has stalled following a stop-work order from the city of Asotin.

Mayor Vikki Bonfield said a resident recently moved dirt on city-owned land for utility access to his acreage at the top of a hill, and “the work there has been put on hold until the appropriate plans are provided.”

“The extent of the work was not authorized and was done without the city’s permission on a weekend,” Bonfield said at Monday night’s Asotin City Council meeting. “It was simply for utility access, nothing else, and a wider access area than necessary was utilized.”

Property owner Chris Segroves, who purchased 1.28 acres near the fairgrounds for $30,000 from the city of Asotin, did not attend the council meeting. Earlier in the day, Segroves told the Tribune he wanted to build his “forever home” at the top of Filmore Street and get the property back on the tax rolls, but recent issues have soured him on the endeavor.

“A few neighbors have been causing problems, and I’m done with it,” Segroves said. “I plan to sell the property, and I’m washing my hands of the whole project.”

The mayor said Segroves has been told to fix any erosion problems caused by the excavation work at the site. He will need city-approved drawings and plans if he wants to proceed.

At the council meeting, Jeff Wiemer, coordinator of the Asotin County Regional Stormwater Program, said Segroves has a stormwater permit, but he has not fulfilled all of the requirements.

“He has put a silt fence in,” Wiemer told the council. “He has agreed to fix the small amount of erosion that has already come down. He’s not to do any other work until the stormwater side is taken care of.”

Jennifer Zipse, of Asotin, who lives at the bottom of the hill, said she and her husband are concerned about the “massive amount of silt” that’s been moved in recent months. During the meeting, Zipse asked the mayor numerous questions, including whether the city can be held responsible for any damage to existing sewer lines.

Bonfield said the city is liable for any issues, “no doubt about it,” and an alley affected by the work will have to be fixed. The sewer system is maintained and flushed on a regular basis and no problems have been detected, she said.

When asked if the Nez Perce Tribe has any involvement over the possibility of ancient graves in the area, the mayor said the tribe has not contacted the city about the project, and the city hasn’t had a reason to call tribal officials.

“We are worried about erosion and access to our home and our neighbors’ homes,” Zipse told the Tribune. “How can someone move that much dirt without a proper permit and engineering?”

Segroves said he bought the land from the city in 2018 with hopes of building a house, selling a lot or two and allowing Asotin County to use a portion for parking during the Asotin County Fair.

“I think this is a win-win situation for everyone,” Segroves said at the time. “I can possibly get three lots out of this, which will add to the tax base for the county and the city. None of this property is on the tax rolls now.”

After more than a year of dealing with people who objected to the project, Segroves said he’s throwing in the towel and putting it on the market.

“I am going to add some gravel and fulfill all of my obligations for my stormwater permit before I sell,” Segroves said. “It’s a great spot for a house, but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life living next to the neighbors who caused problems.”

Sandaine may be contacted at kerris@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2264. Follow her on Twitter @newsfromkerri.

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