[Vision2020] Latah County could get smaller, for clarity’s sake
thansen at moscow.com
Thu Aug 12 05:11:22 PDT 2021
Courtesy of today’s Moscow-Pullman Daily News.
Latah County could get smaller, for clarity’s sake
Move would result in loss of 387 acres to Shoshone, Clearwater counties
Latah County will become 387 acres smaller if county and state officials follow the recommendation Latah County commissioners made Wednesday to shift its eastern boundary so that it is more clearly defined.
The county’s straight, though vague, eastern boundary would become a line that zigs and zags at the township boundaries about quarter mile east or west of the existing boundary.
It’s one of five options Latah County Surveyor John Elsbury presented to the commissioners, and the one he preferred most. Elsbury first approached the commissioners about potentially changing the boundary in September.
The zig-zag model would “capture” 59 existing legal survey monuments and would define the new 27-mile boundary. The current boundary runs due north from the mouth of the North Fork of the Clearwater River.
“You have an ambiguous boundary and it is subject to multiple interpretations and that is the problem,” Elsbury said. “If you can interpret something over here or over here, now you got an argument. Now you got a potential lawsuit and nobody wins.”
Of the 387 acres Latah County would lose, 114 acres are currently taxed. Shoshone County would gain 266 of the 387 acres and Clearwater County would gain the remaining 121.
Taylor Hussey, of Rim Rock Consulting in Moscow, said Rim Rock has done several surveys on the eastern boundary and the vague line has caused issues.
PotlatchDeltic is one of the major landowners abutting the eastern boundary.
Brant Steigers, land use forester at PotlatchDeltic, said the company is in favor of changing the boundary so that all surveyors can use a consistent line.
He said there are some parcels along the boundary that no one knows who owns. He called those strips of land “no man’s land.”
Steiger said he is not a huge fan of the zig-zag option the commissioners recommended because it would shift acreage back and forth between counties, creating more work for PotlatchDeltic as it would need to change property titles from one county to another.
“I have some reservations about that but we are all in favor of trying to solve this problem,” he said.
The boundary is one of the oldest in Idaho. It was first described in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln’s administration established the Idaho Territory and had to carve it into a few counties.
Elsbury said Latah County commissioners adjusted the county’s southeastern border in the 1970s so that it was defined by specific monuments.
To officially change the eastern boundary, Latah, Clearwater and Shoshone county commissioners must agree to adopt the proposed boundary line. The Idaho Legislature must then pass a bill to change the boundary to the agreed new line and the governor would then need to sign the bill to enact the boundary shift.
Elsbury said he will present the five options to Shoshone and Clearwater counties noting the Latah County commissioners’ recommendation.
Elsbury said he believes the other two counties are going to choose Latah County’s preferred choice because it is the “smallest splash” and gives them acreage they do not have.
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