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Countryman clears up his property issues

SNOHOMISH — City Council member Larry Countryman obtained a certificate of occupancy for his 614 Maple Ave. duplex after an outcry from citizen watchdogs.
After scrutiny surrounding his property at 614 Maple Ave., Countryman’s property received a final inspection and a certificate of occupancy from the City for the duplexes a few weeks ago. The duplexes were constructed above the family’s five-car garage they dubbed “Countryman Brothers Garage.” Countryman told the Tribune it is a private family classic car storage space, not a storage business or car repair business. At the Aug. 17 council meeting, Countryman called the garage a “business” multiple times. He told a reporter he didn’t know why he kept referring to it as a business during that meeting. The declaration had watchdogs searching further.
The city building official’s Sept. 1 inspection indicated that there is “no evidence of a business,” city planning director Glen Pickus told a resident in an email shared to the Tribune.
At the Sept. 7 City Council meeting, Countryman commented that he’s “all legal” about the properties.
Pickus said to the Tribune that there were no issues to be
resolved during the inspection and no applicable fines.
When asked about the time frame for permits and inspections to be performed for construction, Pickus said, “There isn’t one.” He explained when a permit is issued: The construction starts and at various phases; an inspection is required before moving forward. When construction is completed, a final review is done. After the final inspection, the certificate of occupancy is issued automatically; there is no application for the certificate of occupancy.

Why the delay?
In an interview with the Tribune, Countryman spoke of his journey from purchasing 614 Maple Ave. to getting final inspection.
Countryman said he purchased the Maple Avenue property from a bank sale as an investment property, as he has done with other properties over the years, but 614 Maple Ave. ended up having some bad construction on the upper levels and odd boundary lines that would cause the remodeling and inspections problems.
To remodel the upper level into duplexes, Countryman needed to join two of his lots which required a survey. Very standard; however, the surveyor died, and Countryman said, “it took a bit” to find a new one.
During this time, his wife Sandy Countryman would be diagnosed with cancer and die from the illness. Not long after, COVID-19 would make its way to the United States. Ultimately, Countryman would sell their 5,000 square-foot home to pay for Sandy’s medical bills. After her death, Countryman moved into one of the 700-square-foot duplexes at 614 Maple Ave.
According to Countryman, Sandy’s name had to be removed from the property title before processing the paperwork, furthering delays.
Countryman said his property line significantly bled into Ford Avenue, but the City of Snohomish owned part of his property. He exclaimed, “I ended up owning most of Ford Avenue!,” the road that runs behind the building.
The City and Countryman struck a deal to adjust the lines. Countryman traded his portion of Ford Avenue for the part of 614 Maple Ave. owned by the City. The trade corrected the boundary lines and met the square footage required for the duplexes built above the garage.
After about six years, the journey to a final inspection for 614 Maple Ave. has ended, and as Countryman said, it’s all legal.



Past related coverage

Accusations question mayor’s, councilman’s filings on properties

SNOHOMISH — The Tribune answers residents’ questions about Mayor John Kartak and City Councilman Larry Countryman’s 2021 campaign filings relating to property ownership. Some citizens claim 614 A, B and C Maple Ave. are not legitimate and were built without proper permits. Other items are disputed.

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