Blaine couple celebrates final victory in wall dispute

Published on Wed, Aug 19, 2009 by Jack Kintner

Read More News

After waiting more than three years, Herb and Shirley Leu have finished their yard that sits right on the Canadian border with the blessings of the International Border Commission (IBC), even though litigation is still pending between the former courtroom adversaries.

For two years, the couple fought with the IBC in federal court over the location of their retaining wall, an 85-foot-long structure designed to keep their yard from washing into the Zero Avenue ditch, which is also the international border.

Last January the Leus signed an agreement allowing them to keep the disputed retaining wall and effectively ending their lawsuit. By that time the wall was a little over two years old and, the IBC agreed, would not have to be removed if the Leus agreed to drop their lawsuit and not to plant or build anything higher than 30 inches within 10 feet of the boundary.

The commissioner who started the argument, Dennis Schornack, was fired from his post over his handling of the issue by the Bush Administration early in the two years of legal wrangling.

The court told him that because of this he no longer was a part of the lawsuit, but he appealed. Once the agreement between the Leus and the IBC was signed, the IBC and Bernhardt filed a motion in federal district court to dismiss the suit entirely and to remove the stay of litigation that otherwise prevents the matter from being resolved until Schornack’s appeals are exhausted.

Emily Langlie, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle, said that no one knows when the judge will rule on the matter.

Once they got the go-ahead from both Bernhardt and their attorney, the Leus took what had been a pile of dirt they were not allowed to improve and created an award-winning yard – it was named yard of the week two weeks ago – by a design drawn up by Shirley Leu, who also raises and shows Pomeranians.

“Our dogs like it a lot,” said Herb Leu, “and so do we.”