i wrote this post in August last year when I discovered extended family were building on my property. I have added an update at the end.
Question: What would your reaction be if you were looking at Facebook photos posted by relatives and noticed a deck had been built on your property?
Here’s the story:
My brother and I have owned a piece of property jointly since 1995. Our mom quit claimed it to us. It’s in Robe, Wash. It’s been in the family since the 1930s. My grandfather bought 10 acres along the Stillaguamish River and gave parcels to his three kids (my mom was one) and to his sisters.
Robe is a beautiful, magical place. It’s pristine. There’s no running water or electricity. My dad designed a cabin in 1959 before I was born. My mom and dad, with their own two hands, built the cabin that has given me some of my best childhood memories. Fishing at dawn for breakfast trout. Snuggled into our mummy bags listening to the roaring fire at night. Floating down the rapids with friends. Jumping off the giant rock into the deep swimming hole.
About 15 years ago, my brother and I had the cabin torn down. It was falling apart. Someone had trashed the interior and lit the floor on fire. The roof was leaking. It was a liability and was inviting trouble. We left the fireplace. Some relatives hauled it off in exchange to access to our property which my brother arranged. I thought he had paid a service to do it.
Although the extended family — I have no clue who most of them are these days — have their own lots, ours is where they gather for an annual reunion. I go from time to time. They prefer our lot because our property faces the swimming hole in the river with a big rock. There used to be a sandy beach, too.
Now here’s the question of whether someone has gone too far. I was glancing at photos on facebook from the recent family reunion that I was unable to attend. This is a photo of a deck on my lot. I’ve never seen it before. Nobody asked me if they could build it. Apparently it was for a distant relative’s wedding — that I didn’t know about. My brother knows nothing about any of this either.
What are your thoughts of somebody building on your property without your knowledge or permission? Or holding a wedding?
Our extended family has an entirely different vision for Robe than we do. They have hired a logging company to come in and remove trees on their adjoining lots to ours. They are going to park RVs on the property and install a manufactured house.
They aren’t going to touch our property, but having this destruction right next door affects us.
My brother and I think that keeping the property natural is what is magical about it. It’s an hour and a half from Seattle and the river, trees are beautiful. We are 100% against removing hundred year old trees for a little cash.
Alas….The Enemy Within….Do they not need to have a public hearing first?
They don’t. We looked into it. They need to get a permit to log and the County has said they will approve. Who would want to take down 100-year-old trees?
So go to County and have your say! Be loud, be clear, and be relentless.
My brother did. They said they don’t like it one bit, but it’s our relatives’ legal right. It may be time for my brother and I to build a big beautiful wall!
Oh no! I suppose if they own the land there is not much you can do about it but I certainly would see about fighting it in the county for sure. Absolutely would make it known you did not approve or appreciate them changing your property without letting you know as well. Sad to see things happen like this, extended family or not. What a bummer.
It’s so depressing. We are so emotionally attached to this property. And I believe they are destroying the magical beauty. I feel like I’m in mourning.
Living in WA I know how much it means to treasure places like this. Family often seems to be the most difficult to deal with when it comes to changes, or in this case not making major changes. You never know what motivates people or why sometimes. I wouldn’t be rushing to anymore reunions in the future for sure. And I’m truly sorry that you are made to deal with this.
Thank you for your understanding words.
I would be quite mad….
What a shame. Are they willing to not only destroy the natural beauty but their family ties just to have some clear land to park RVs?
Yes, they are. Even relatives I thought we had shared values. I’m in shock.
This is a bad choice on their part. Spoiling the natural beauty of a place must hurt.
Very much so and it hurts more as they are family.
The bright side is that this situation is bringing my brother and I closer since we are on the same side.
Yes, that happens when we unite against a common enemy.
This arrogant, violent choice to destroy the ecosystem along with ‘community’ bonds, is an afront to all of us that care about our fragile earth. I share your grief, for both the rape of the land and the death of common decency.
The question of course is whether or not to expend the emotional energy and finances needed to ‘battle’ the debacle. And as unproductive as it is, that is where my anger would reside. To be put in this position feels unfair.
If you decide to challenge their progression, it may be helpful to approach Fish and Wildlife and/or DNR. Even though it is private land, there may be state or federal regulations that the county does not have the authority to ignore or override. Washington State does have watershed regulations that apply to endangered species, etc. Even if clear cutting cannot be stopped, state environmental regulations are supposed to be applied toward ingress and egress for logging roads to mitigate erosion in surrounding areas. An especially critical issue because the property is so close to the river that feeds a major watershed. Just as a landowner is not guaranteed a building permit without a soil perk test, a clearcut logging permit, may require that certain standards be met. That the county is preemptively declaring approval, seems odd. Salmon recovery organizations may be a good resource too.
Don’t forget to breath…and remember that regardless of the physical outcome, no circumstance can deprive you of the wonderful memories of that magical place. It remains a special place in my heart, for sure.
Thank you, Robin for your strong stance and words. It’s much appreciated.
I would be devastated too! I’m so sorry, it feels as if your hands are tied, and they can just ruin the landscape as they please. How horrible, hugs, C
In fact they are angry that we have any opinion on what they do with their own land.
Unbelieveable considering they hosted an unapproved wedding on your land!
It’s incredible. We definitely have different visions of how we want the future of the property to be.
I remember this post! I’m so sorry, Elizabeth.
One of my mantras is “You can’t choose your family.” Maybe time to find another location to share with your brother, a place to build new memories with rediscovered and future family members?
That may be a possibility.