Golf course owner wins legal battle against Kitsap County

Northwest Golf Range owner Robert Ross received a $250,000 settlement from the county on Aug. 8 for claims his business was interfered with intentionally.

Ross filed charges in October 1999 against Kitsap County, namely Commissioner Chris Endresen and the Department of Community Development (DCD).

Upon hearing of the settlement, Endresen was extremely frustrated, she said.

“I don’t think they should have gotten anything,” she said.

After Ross bought his golf range in 1996, he discovered a drainfield leak, and wanted to connect to a nearby county sewer main.

At the time, raw sewage was floating on the surface of the soil, in view of his clients. The health department recommended the sewer connection because the drainfield was a public health hazard, he said.

Ross sued the county for lost revenue concerning a two-year, eight-month battle in which he claims he was first granted permission to hook-up to the sewer line, then was denied it without sufficient reason, he said.

“I suffered at least $600,000 in lost profits,” Ross said. “That amount is not including attorney’s fees.”

The out-of-court settlement marks the end of a long, tangled road of legal appearances for the owner of the golf range/miniature golf course/paintball park on State Route 303.

The reason Ross’ request for a sewer line was originally pulled was because his business lay outside the urban-growth boundary of Silverdale.

However, Ross contended his business met all requirements to be hooked-up to the county sewer line, that it was essential, and that the commissioner’s actions were arbitrary and capricious — intentionally interfering with his business.

Court documents filed by Ross also claim Endresen and the DCD violated Ross’ Constitutional right to expand his business.

“I vehemently disagree with their statements,” Endresen responded recently. “The real point is, they didn’t lose any business. They went ahead and built the septic system,” Endresen added.

In the settlement, the judge did not declare Endresen or the County as guilty — but Ross’ attorney, Patrick McMenamin, said the fact Ross was awarded a settlement, implies they were guilty. Attorney for the county, Mark Johnsen, said the reason the county settled was because there are always uncertainties in going to trial. A trial award could have been smaller or larger, suggested county officials.

Since 1996, county defendants took Ross to Superior Court for a summary judgement — in effect they wanted the judge to throw out Ross’ claims — but Judge Frank Cuthberson denied the motion.

In 2000, Ross was permitted to install the sewer line.

“Here’s the bottom line,” McMenamin said, “this could have been resolved four years ago if (Ross) had been treated fairly.”

The money, which was paid to Ross two weeks after the settlement, came from an insurance reserve called the “risk pool” that Kitsap shares with other counties, McMenamin said.

County Commissioner Tim Botkin said the money will not affect county tax payers.

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