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Originally published January 15, 2009 at 5:59 PM | Page modified January 16, 2009 at 2:14 AM

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Blaine couple, U.S. agency settle border wall case

A Whatcom County couple has settled its case against a little-known federal agency over a retaining wall they built in their yard along the Canadian border.

A Whatcom County couple has settled its case against a little-known federal agency over a retaining wall they built in their yard along the Canadian border.

The bizarre controversy began two years ago, when Dennis Schornack, the head of the International Boundary Commission, declared that the retaining wall encroached on the border and that it must be removed.

The Blaine couple — Shirley-Ann and Herbert Leu — sued. The property-rights law firm Pacific Legal Foundation argued that the couple was never notified a buffer existed around the border and they had no avenue to appeal Schornack's decision.

President Bush soon fired Schornack, but that prompted another lawsuit, with Schornack insisting the president didn't have the authority to fire him. A federal judge in Seattle disagreed.

No money changes hands as part of the settlement, but the couple can keep its retaining wall — and add a little latticework fence on top of it.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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