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AGO 1951 No. 436 - January 24, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

COUNTIES ‑- SALE OF TAX TITLE PROPERTY ‑- DEEDS ‑- LIMITATIONS IN

A county may sell land acquired through tax foreclosure proceedings and issue a deed therefor containing a valid time limitation for the removal of timber on the land sold.

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                                                                 January 24, 1951

Honorable James E. Duree
Prosecuting Attorney
Pacific County
South Bend, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 436

Attention:  !ttFred Schwarz
            Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

Dear Sir:

            In your letter of January 16, 1951, you ask the following question:

            In the sale of land acquired by the county through tax foreclosure, can the county place a limitation in the deed to the effect that the timber on said land must be removed within a specified period?

            You are advised a county may sell land acquired through tax foreclosure proceedings and issue a deed therefor containing a valid time limitation for the removal of timber on the land sold.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            If the county were without authority to reserve timber in the sale of land and was authorized to sell only the fee, as it was prior to the enactment of chapter 19, Laws of 1943 (SeeState ex rel. Lockwood v. Glover, 20 Wn. (2d) 124, at  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] page 128), a time limitation for the removal of timber contained in a deed would be void as in derogation of the grant.  See Batchelor v. Madison Park Corporation, 25 Wn. (2d) 907 and cases cited on page 917.

            However, section 3, chapter 172, Laws of 1945 (§ 4007 Rem. Supp. 1945) apparently gives the county the right to reserve timber from sale, and section 1, chapter 172, Laws of 1945 (§ 11294 Rem. Supp. 1945) clearly gives that right.

            Since a county has the power to control the timber after the sale of the land it may, and should, as trustees of the land (Gustaveson v. Dwyer, 83 Wash. 303) sell the same to the best possible advantage and if it is found that a sale of the land with a time limit for the removal of the timber would realize more monies for the beneficiaries of the trust, it may be made.

            We have answered your question as asked and do not presume to advise how a sale should be made, but think it proper to say that other provisions of the statutes which we have quoted may be considered as directory so that the county commissioners could, and should, make such provisions either in the contract or the deed so that the timber would have to be removed and would have to be paid for as removed.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

E. P. DONNELLY
Assistant Attorney General

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