The disagreement over whether a beach bluff lot owner can build his dream home on Spring Street, just south of NW 14th in Newport, remained unresolved Monday night. Newport city officials went round and round with the lot owner, the neighbors, and among themselves as they grappled with the question of: does the landowner have the right to build a house on the property?
At stake is the owner’s investment – not only the land costs but also preliminary land clearing to make way for construction of the house. Also whether the house can be built at all – based on the county’s and city’s contention that the house would be built too close to the west side of Spring Street, based on old county land records. Then there’s the neighbors who, like thousands of others, have used city-owned parkland just to the south, to access the beach below – access that the lot owner initially denied public use of because he thought he owned the property free and clear. But under a provision called “prescriptive right,” a long history of unfettered public access across the property must be mitigated – that is – re-routing the trail to ensure continued access to the beach as has existed for the better part of a hundred years.
The lot owner claimed that the title company made no mention of the original county road alignment of Spring Street (before the area became part of Newport) that still exists on county land records. So technically, the lot owner’s eastern lot line doesn’t go far enough east to give him a workable lot.
So as it sits, the lot owner has a cloud over whether he can build his house. The county (as the former owner of Spring Street) is talking with the city about the legal definition of the situation despite the fact it’s no longer a county road….but it DOES have a legal history, which could be handed off to the city and let it sort things out. Meanwhile the city wants to preserve the public’s access to the beach below the mini-park, as it’s been for decades on end.
No way to sum this up except to say – STAY TUNED.