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Camp Bay court hearing postponed

by DANIEL RADFORD
Staff Writer | July 8, 2022 1:00 AM

SAGLE — A Wednesday hearing to determine whether the court has the authority to set where the Camp Bay Road ends has been postponed.

The 30-day pause, which was approved by both Fred and Jennifer Arn and M3 Camp Bay LLC, gives the two sides time to see if they can find common ground in the dispute over personal property rights and public accessibility.

The hearing was rescheduled for Aug. 10 to allow the parties time to negotiate possible solutions.

The hearing is the latest chapter in a saga to determine whether the final section of Camp Bay Road runs all the way to Lake Pend Oreille’s high-water mark, or ends at property now owned by M3 ID Camp Bay LLC.

The Arms filed suit last May after Bonner County commissioners voted to vacate the final portion of road, saying it was in the public’s interest for the county to longer have to maintain the approximately half-mile portion of road.

In their lawsuit, the couple challenged the decision and said commissioners did not have the right to vacate the road for a variety of reasons. Among them, that commissioners had failed to evaluate

Among the complaints was that the commissioners failed to evaluate whether the road vacation was in the public interest, that there was a conflict of interest involving members of the Road and Bridge Department.

First District Judge Cynthia K.C. Meyer found in favor of the Arns on Nov. 15, ruling the decision to vacate the road was not supported with substantial evidence, and that the commissioners exercised an “abuse of discretion” by cutting off a speaker during public comment.

In February, commissioners voted to void the vacation but said they were unable to determine where Camp Bay Road ended and asked for a judge to make that determination. The now-delayed hearing was to potentially decide that issue.

However, a confrontation on June 25 between Brownlee and Arn led both parties to attempt negotiations in an attempt to resolve the dispute.

According to Arn, he told Brownlee that they had never tried to negotiate outside of court, noting “it’s much cheaper to negotiate than to litigate.” Brownlee agreed and both parties filed the petition on July 1.

The civil suit pertains to the effort by M3 and Brownlee for Bonner County to vacate about half a mile of a county road as well as, what Arn said is one of the few public access points to the lake in Sagle.

The commissioners had approved the vacation citing the cost of maintaining the road, however Meyer remanded the decision upon appeal. Now, should an agreement not be reached between the Arns and M3, then the parties will return to court on August 10.

“M3 is preparing several options for us to review,” said Arn, who runs 50feet.net, a local coalition working to preserve public access to Camp Bay. However, he said in an email, that while he was willing to negotiate and to see what M3 proposes, he also is willing to continue the fight for public access to the lake in court.

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