A Tensed business is within its rights to build a fence across a road in town, Benewah County officials said.

Residents complained to the Benewah County Sheriff’s Office after the owner of the Big Store in Tensed built a fence across Eagle Lane. However, an examination of the property rights surrounding the road revealed that the city had no easement on the Big Store’s property, and the owner is within his rights to block the access.

The issue began when the owners of the Big Store in Tensed constructed a fence across a road that crossed its property. The fence was reportedly built in preparation for renovations to the property to expand business.

“We’re putting in some RV spots, and possibly two cabins if the budget allows it,” owner Christian Brown said. “There’s not enough places around here for people to spend the night, and we feel like this is a really good opportunity for our business.”

The fence construction prompted outcry from Tensed residents who use Eagle Lane as an access road. Several residents contacted the Benewah County Sheriff’s Office to demand the fence be taken down.

However, Sheriff Dave Resser, working with the Benewah County Prosecutor and Assessor, confirmed that there was no official easement for the property to be used for a road. A single access easement exists for a neighbor to the property, but the through-road itself is entirely on Mr. Brown’s property.

“For a number of years, what is now Eagle Lane actually has come through the corner of the Big Store’s property,” he said. “There’s never been an easement for that, with the exception of one neighbor who has an easement for her driveway. So the owners can legally do whatever they want with their own property, with the exception of that easement.”

Mr. Brown said that he attempted to contact and negotiate with the property owner over several years, but the neighbor was unwilling to work with them. He said he consulted with a property attorney to find a way to satisfy the lien, and ultimately left enough of the property open to allow that neighbor access to the highway through nearby Grizzly Lane.

Sheriff Resser said that the matter is not a criminal matter at this time, and any residents who have a dispute over Mr. Brown’s action would need to file a complaint in civil court.

“He has every right to utilize his property, unless the court decides otherwise,” he said. “Other than that, it’s a civil issue on our part, and hopefully there won’t be anything to happen that will be a criminal issue.”

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