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Washington Man Threatened With $70,000 A Month Fines After Chopping Firewood For Charity

Shane McDaniel provides free firewood to people in need of free heat during winter. McDaniel, of Lake Stevens, Washington, has been profiled for his generosity by the “Today Show” and The Washington Post.

But in an interview on “The Dori Monson Show” on KIRO Radio, McDaniel said he is being hassled by the city for having too much firewood on his property.

Here’s the kicker – it was the city that provided him all that firewood. The city had removed some evergreen trees in order to erect a new building. The city, according to McDaniel, knew of his charity work and asked if he would accept the trees. He did.

“They dropped off dump truck load after dump truck load [of full-sized logs] in my driveway until I couldn’t chop any more,” McDaniel told Monson.

He also received firewood from other locals who heard about his charity work. Between that and the logs from the city, a huge pile of firewood formed on McDaniel’s property.

In a Facebook post, McDaniel climbed to the top of the pile and placed an American flag as the camera flies away to give an eagle-eye view of the massive

pile of firewood.

Posted by Shane McDaniel on Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Several months after the city provided the logs, it threatened to fine McDaniel for the massive pile of firewood, which it referred to in its notices as “rubbish” and “debris.”

The city, according to McDaniel, cited him for “violating the fire code, having too-high of woodpiles, and keeping the piles too close to his neighbor’s property,” KIRO radio reported.

McDaniel told the radio station that the pile would be collected as winter rolls in and that he wouldn’t store such a large amount of firewood in the future.

“I realize that we can’t have a giant firewood pile in the middle of town,” he told Monson. “The volunteer movement simply produced more, the goodwill that came in was simply more than anticipated, and the pile grew very large.”

The radio station reported that the fines are growing as McDaniel waits to help those in need. He said he has received fines of $500 per violation per day, which have added up to about $70,000 per month. By the time McDaniel estimates the firewood would be delivered, the fines would add up to more than $250,000.

“I don’t think that dropping off those logs and showing up 12 weeks later and fining me $70,000 a month is very American,” he told Monson.

In response to McDaniel’s interview, the mayor of Lake Stevens issued a response denying some of McDaniel’s allegations and explaining the city’s position:

I want to update you about a current fire wood situation. A local resident has accumulated a significant pile of firewood to donate to those in need. I applaud and respect him for this charitable cause. However, the wood pile has grown to such a size that it is a potential fire hazard, generating complaints from other residents. The accumulation of firewood blocks access to the property and poses a significant danger to this property and adjacent properties. The city and Fire District jointly began an action to address the safety concerns.

We first contacted the owner in July about the issue and we have asked several times that he distribute the firewood, but our requests were ignored.

He has since taken the city to task on social media and made some inaccurate statements. To clarify, none of this wood belongs to the city. All the Douglas Fir wood, cut down from recent city projects, is stored with the city for cutting into lumber for the Pavilion. The city has indicated “fines” are pending and his rights to contest the violation, but no fines have been imposed to date. We are hoping that he will work to correct the issues voluntarily.

I’m sure we could line up volunteers to move the wood to needed residences. If you need wood for heating this winter, please consider helping us put this issue to rest and ask him for some!

McDaniel also suggested the city may have an ulterior motive for the “pending” fines. He suggested the city wants his property to turn it into a city park.

“I know they want the property, and it’s awfully suspicious,” he told Monson. He also said he had to pay $6,000 in legal fees last year to avoid paying a $60,000 fine for having sand on a “beach” on his property. He says he has also used his business, “Norm’s Market – Keg and Bottleshop,” to post political statements about the city.

“Will they just wipe the fine away when the wood is gone, or will they continue to hack at me?” he told Monson.

“I’m not going to go down there and beg … What I’m not going to do is let a couple bullying city administrators with an ax to grind push me around,” he added.

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