[6/15/16] Appeals Court Says Three Fingers Will Stay
The infamous 3 finger land fills on the south shore of Lake Chelan, are here to stay- at least for the time being.
On Tuesday, a state appeals court in Spokane, overturned last years ruling by Chelan County Superior Court Judge, Leslie Allen, that the 3 fingers must be removed.
The 3 fingers are owned by Good Fellow Brothers Incorporated. They were constructed in the early 60’s as part of a road widening project on Highway 97A.
A fourth landfill, adjacent to the original 3 fingers, constructed by a separate property owner, was removed by court order in the late 60’s.
Those four landfills are credited with prompting the Shoreline Management Act, which was passed by the Washington State Legislature in 1971. The Shoreline Management Act states that permitted uses on the shorelines of the state shall be designed and conducted in a manner to minimize any interference with the public’s use of the water.
In 2010 the grassroots Chelan Basin Conservancy Group, took legal action after Goodfellow Brothers announced plans to develop the three fingers.
Through their attorney, David Mann, of Seattle, they claimed the development would unreasonably interfere with access to the beach and navigable waters.
In 2014,Chelan County Superior Court Judge, Leslie Allen, ruled that the 3 fingers were in violation of state statute as a public nuisance.
The following year, in 2015, she ordered prompt removal of the three fingers. Goodfellow Brothers Incorporated appealed her decision.
Most cases appealed from superior courts, go directly to the court of appeals, it is a non discretionary appellate court, it must accept all appeals filed.
The court of appeals has authority to reverse, remand, modify or affirm the decision of the lower court.
In Tuesday’s written ruling, the Spokane based Division 3 Court of Appeals stated that the Shoreline Management Act includes a savings clause that grandfathers in per-existing landfills against claims for violation of the public rights of navigation.
The case is now remanded back to Superior Court Judge, Leslie Allen, for a new ruling.
A spokesperson for Goodfellow Brothers Incorporated, said the appeals court decision will probably lead to dismissal of the 2010 lawsuit brought by the Chelan Basin Conservancy Group. But they do have the right to ask the Court of Appeals to reconsider their decision, or seek review by the Washington State Supreme Court.
The Chelan Basin Conservancy Group is a tenacious grassroots group, and it’s unlikely they are going to go away quietly.
Goodfellow Brothers Incorporated is a storied, multi-generational, international development company and it’s highly unlikely they will ever give up the fight.