Owners of artificially made Lake Chelan property await fate in court
On a small portion of Lake Chelan alone more than 200 properties valued at millions of dollars have at least partial fill, according to documents filed in the case.
The Wenatchee World
CHELAN — While a final court decision ordering removal of three man-made peninsulas on Lake Chelan hasn't been issued, Chelan residents are beginning to wonder what will happen to other lakefront property if the ruling stands.
Next month, Chelan County Superior Court Judge Lesley Allan will hear motions from attorneys and the state Attorney General's Office asking her to reconsider her decision requiring the removal of 6.12 acres of undeveloped property in Chelan.
The ruling, if it stands, would turn the property, owned by GBI Holdings, back into a bay.
Lawyers in the case disagree whether that decision would impact other waterfront property artificially created with fill.
"The judge's decision theoretically impacts the entire state of Washington because she's decided a portion of the Shorelines Management Act is unconstitutional," said Wenatchee attorney Kirk Bromiley, who represents GBI Holding, which owns the lakefront property. The impact on other properties is not part of their argument for why the judge should reconsider, he said.
On a small portion of Lake Chelan alone — between Don Morse Park and Lakeside Park — more than 200 properties valued at millions of dollars have at least partial fill, according to documents filed by GBI with the case.
But attorneys for Chelan Basin Conservancy, which filed the suit seeking to remove the property, known as Three Fingers, disagree.
"I think it's much ado about nothing," said Russ Speidel, a Wenatchee attorney who is working with Seattle attorneys Gendler & Mann to represent the Conservancy.
In her July 11 ruling, Allan said her decision was "limited to the Three Fingers fill and the statute's application to that specific and unique area." Speidel said the property is different from other waterfront property because the Goodfellows, which own the property, never developed it.
Chelan Basin Conservancy asked the court to order removal of the property after the city of Chelan agreed to allow the owners to divide it. GBI Holding never revealed plans for the property, although in 2010 it applied to the city for a development permit, then withdrew that request before applying to subdivide the land.
"This fill sat there for 50 years, undeveloped," Speidel said. He said other waterfront property on fill that has been developed provides some public benefit, and was developed under guidelines of the Shorelines Management Act.
"There's a lot of anxiety over this, and it's needless," he said. "The only anxiety ought to be on the part of the Goodfellows. We're hoping the public sees the benefit of this, and no downside."