SEQUIM -- Vietnam-era veteran Joseph Gil Lujan says his home has become the latest victim of Clallam County's controversial Critical Areas Ordinance.

County staff will close Lujan's mobile-home property on 152 River's End Road on May 11, saying the property floods regularly, leaks raw sewage and is dangerous to public health.

The county issued a Do Not Occupy order on Wednesday. A county spokesman said the order is not related to the critical areas rule, but is a public health issue.

Three months earlier, Sequim businessman Jerry Levesque, another Rivers End Road property owner, was cited for illegally building up a driveway with fill material and allowing a trailer to occupy the site.

The county discovered Lujan's problem while investigating Levesque's alleged illegal structures, Lujan said.

"I think the county is being extremely unfair with this," he said. "I have to give my renters all the money back for the rent they put down."

In the meantime, the county is continuing efforts to secure grant funding to buy the home, Bob Martin, the county's community development director said.

"Anybody would say this is not a place where anyone should live," Martin said of the irreparable sewage problem, the perceived health threat to Lujan's renters, the public and the alleged release of fecal coliform into Dungeness Bay.

Recently, the state Department of Health closed 400 acres of Dungeness Bay to commercial shellfish harvesting following reports of unsafe fecal coliform levels.

Lujan's story began last September when county compliance officers visited his property, citing him for allegedly disturbing the Dungeness River's bank behind his property.

Public Health Issue

Under the county's 1999 Critical Areas Ordinance, the earth-moving work could have affected threatened salmon.  But the failed septic has little to do with the Critical Areas Ordinance; it is a public health hazard, Martin said.

Meanwhile, Lujan received a letter from county enforcement officers demanding he revegetate the disturbed embankment behind his property.

But then the Dungeness River Management Team agreed to purchase Lujan's land for $85,000 contingent upon state grant funds.

Lujan said he even applied for a low-interest loan to obtain a permit for a new septic tank.  The permit was denied by county staff, Lujan said, because it conflicted with the management team's attempt to purchase the land.

But the county was not granted the funds, leaving Lujan with a $680-per-month mortgage payment out of his $769 monthly disability check.

Lujan's permit would not have been granted because of the persistent flooding, Martin said.

Now, Lujan says, the county order has prohibited him from continuing to use or sell his home as a rental property.

He is living in another household, he said.

from Peninsula Daily News

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