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BOCC hires title expert for Herrick Park

by JOSH MCDONALD
Staff Reporter | June 16, 2022 10:33 AM

WALLACE — The process of determining ownership of a small section of riverfront property in the southern region of Shoshone County may have some clarity in the coming weeks.

On Monday, the Shoshone Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) officially hired Sue Copeland — a property and title specialist, to begin the process of digging into a section of unowned property near the Herrick Park subdivision.

The property, which lies just a few miles east of Calder, sits along the St. Joe River, near the mouth of Big Creek.

Over the past few months this particular section of property has been widely debated and discussed, both publicly and privately, with concerned citizens as well as the BOCC themselves working to determine what ownership interests may exist.

Earlier this year, the BOCC denied a petition for abandonment or vacation for a section of property filed by Buell Bros. Inc., the owners of Herrick Park’s Lot No. 1.

It was this petition that brought much of this situation to light.

The property that was included in that petition was roughly 100 feet and lies directly between Potlatch Road and the portion of property that Copeland will be looking into.

Had they approved the vacation, it would have appeared that the BOCC was gifting a large swath of property to the applicants — who have been trying to privatize that area for some time, according to some of their neighboring owners in Herrick Park.

Buell Bros. Inc., have filed quitclaim deeds on the section of riverfront property, which lies directly across Big Creek from their clearly defined and owned lot.

They have claimed that through the process of accretion, that they have a legal interest in the property on the other side of the creek.

A quitclaim deed in the state of Idaho is a legal document that conveys interest in a property from a grantor (the person selling the property) to the grantee (the person purchasing or receiving the property).

This deed is without any form of guarantee that the grantor has the legal authority to sell or transfer the property or that the property has a clean title.

When it comes to real estate, accretion is a process where the surface of the land grows due to the recession of a body of water on land that had at one point been covered by it.

However — during a recent meeting with the BOCC, Copeland explained to the board that while she isn’t an expert on the subject, she didn’t see anywhere where accretion would have granted land from one side to the other in the area.

The property itself has value to the county, both from a public use standpoint where it is a popular spot for water recreators to access the St. Joe River, as well as from the standpoint of the county roads crews having access through the property for the purposes of filling up water trucks to use for dust control.

Public Works has maintained an easy access ramp from the road down onto the property to fill up those water trucks, but can also be used for boats as well.

During a recent meeting that included Shoshone County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Allen, it was made very clear how the county feels about the quitclaim deeds that have been filed concerning the property.

“The county recognizes Jack Buell’s ownership of Lot No. 1 in Herrick Park,” Allen said. “The county does not recognize any ownership (by the Buells) beyond Lot No. 1.”

According to BOCC chairman Mike Fitzgerald, Copeland will be tasked with gathering up a full records report for the board to review.

“Our plan is to have her assess the property and get clarity on the ownership,” Fitzgerald said. “It will let us know if we have an interest in ownership or not. But no matter what she finds, she’ll be able to provide us with a professional opinion with her professional name attached to it.”

Copeland’s findings will determine how the board moves forward in this matter.

The Shoshone News-Press will continue to follow this story.

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