In two major hearing rulings, the five homeowners who are seeking to make Powerline Road a public highway (or county road) are one step closer to reality.

According to John Thomas Ludlow, attorney representing the homeowners, at the first hearing ruling on Aug. 25 the judge concluded even though Tacoma Public Utilities, which owns the property, is a governmental entity, TPU is engaged in business-like activity, thus the road can be classified as a prescriptive easement.

“This was an important hearing for us and we prevailed,” Ludlow said.

The most recent ruling, on Sept. 15, was a motion by the city of Tacoma and TPU to dismiss all of the homeowners’ claims to the road. The motion was denied. “It was a very important decision for us,” Ludlow said.

William Fosbre, attorney for Tacoma Public Utilities, could not be reached for comment.

The next step is a trial, scheduled to start on Jan. 9, 2007.

“Right now, we are just preparing for trial,” said TPU spokesperson Chris Gleason.

Since the 1920s, Powerline Road (known as 144th Street as well as Pole Line Road) has been owned by the city of Tacoma and TPU and is used as a right-of-way for work trucks to maintain the power lines that stretch from the Cushman Dam to Tacoma, according to Gleason. “Crews use the road about a half dozen times a year,” she said.

Gleason said that about a year-and-a-half ago, then TPU Superintendent Steve Klein wanted to stop access to Powerline Road or restrict access; that is when TPU gated off the right-of-way, but has not cut off access for homeowners.

“The original plan was to lock the gates,” she said. TPU has asked homeowners to sign indemnity waivers protecting the integrity of the road.

“In recent years, this area has become a dumping ground for meth and hazardous waste and it is costing us more and more every year to maintain,” Gleason said. “It is also a liability issue for us when people use the road… It has been a challenge with people using the road without restrictions.”

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