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Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1951 No. 454 -
Attorney General Smith Troy


County Commissioners have no authority to sell gravel produced at sites owned by the county to private individuals.

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                                                                February 22, 1951

Honorable John Panesko
Prosecuting Attorney
Lewis County
Chehalis, Washington                                                                                               Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 454

Dear Sir:

            In your letter of January 26 you asked the following question:

            May County Commissioners sell gravel to private parties?

            You are advised:

            County Commissioners have no authority to sell gravel produced at sites owned by the county to private individuals.


            In addition to our letter to Honorable F. M. Turner, Prosecuting Attorney of Stevens County, dated July 21, 1933, to which you call our attention, we have specifically held that County Commissioners may not sell gravel or crushed rock to private individuals or corporations for private use.  See our letter of December 8, 1950, to the Honorable D. J. Cunningham, Prosecuting Attorney of Lewis County.  We attach a copy of our letter of August 17, 1940, to the Honorable Edgar H. Canfield, Prosecuting Attorney of Klickitat County.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            The use of land for a gravel pit is a public use (Boitano vs. Snohomish County, 11 Wn. (2d) 664, 668, 120 P. (2d) 490).  Accordingly, land may be acquired for this purpose by condemnation (sec. 6450-9, Rem. Rev. Stat., Vol. 7A).

            The distinction between gravel or crushed rock produced by a county and personal or real property owned by the county, in any capacity, even in trust, (See sec. 4007 et seq. Rem. Supp. 1945) is apparent.

            The production of sand or gravel would actually be allowing a county to go into competition with private business, using property acquired only for public use.

            Section 44, chapter 187, Laws of 1937, specifically allows private persons to make a contribution to the county for gravel, if the gravel is used for a proper county purpose.

            You are, therefore, specifically advised that there is no way in which County Commissioners of your county may sell gravel produced at the rock crusher site owned by the county to private individuals.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General