Man’s court fight pays off

EDMONDS — Joe Gaddy’s legal battle against Snohomish County lasted several years and cost him thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of work.

Last week, the King County sheriff’s detective got his payday: a check from Snohomish County for $270.94.

“It’s better than a kick in the pants, but it’s more of a moral victory than anything else,” said Gaddy, of Edmonds.

Added to an earlier check for the same amount from developer John Marasco, Gaddy took to the bank $541.88 for copying charges and court fees. The payments were part of a ruling this summer in Gaddy’s favor by Snoho­mish County Superior Court Judge James Allendoerfer.

It started when Gaddy decided to fight a proposal by Marasco to divide property across the street from Gaddy’s house into two building sites.

Pretty run of the mill, except Gaddy argued the street was unsafe and too steep, twice the county standard for road grade.

Gaddy called and wrote county planners, department directors and officials, but no one would listen. The county approved the proposal.

Gaddy paid $500 to appeal to a hearing examiner. He lost there, too.

He paid $200 to sue the county. Judge Allendoerfer tossed out the project, saying county planners failed to consider public safety.

“The whole system is heavily weighted against anybody speaking up and protesting, or being allowed to be heard,” Gaddy said. “It’s cost prohibitive, time prohibitive and just doesn’t seem like it should be that much for citizen concerns to be heard.”

Since Gaddy’s victory, county planners must now provide more detailed evidence of their analysis of projects, said Greg Morgan, deputy director of county Planning and Development Services.

“We’ve taken some steps,” Morgan said. “The policies and procedures are there. We’re encouraging a serious attention to detail and documentation of decisions on any issue.”

Marasco said at the time he was considering reapplying.

There’s no word yet whether he will.

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