THE THREE FINGERS
On December 8, 2016 The Washington State Supreme Court granted Chelan Basin Conservancy petition for review.
1. Division lll of the court of appeals made the wrong decision regarding the Three Fingers land fill.2. The Public Trust Doctrine as applied to the Three Fingers merits review by the Washington Supreme Court.
The Three Fingers are six acres of vacant land located on Lake Chelan between Lakeside and the dock of the Lady of the Lake. In the early 1960’s, the construction company Goodfellow Brothers, Inc., cut out the hillside above the highway for apartments that it then constructed on a portion of its cut, and dumped the cut-out hillside into the Lake. In the early 1960’s, Goodfellow also had a highway construction contract at the same site, and proceeded to dump its construction rocks and soil into the Lake. All of that dumping by Goodfellow became the Three Fingers. The Three Fingers have been a vacant eyesore on Lake Chelan for over 50 years.
PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT BY GOODFELLOW OF THE THREE FINGERS
THE COURT CASE
In 2011, CBC filed suit against Goodfellow in Chelan County Superior Court, seeking removal of the Three Fingers. In 2014 and 2015 Orders, the Court ordered Goodfellow to remove the Three Fingers. The Court found that the Three Fingers are a public nuisance, are not a fill protected by statute, and violate the public trust doctrine, which protects navigable waters. Goodfellow has appealed the Orders. The case is now being briefed to the Washington Court of Appeals. It is expected that over the next two years the appeal will eventually be decided by the Washington Supreme Court.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- Doesn’t the state Shoreline Management Act automatically take care of lake shoreline issues?
- Yes. But with two very important caveats. First, the SMA includes a waiver for certain pre-1970 fills. In our case the waiver either does not apply to these fills or the waiver itself is unconstitutional. We have challenged and prevailed on both arguments. Second, even if the SMA fully implemented the public trust, then the tool we look to is the City’s shoreline Master Program. The City’s SMP does not allow and would not allow the Three Fingers fill. So, in essence, even if we should look only to the SMA and the City’s SMP, the fill is not allowed.
- There have been many fills in Lake Chelan over the years. Does removing the Fingers set a precedent that puts those other fills in jeopardy?
- No. This is because of the difference in scope and size of the Three Fingers; there is nothing else on the Lake like it. The Shoreline Master Plan allows minor fills for houses and water dependent uses. The Three Fingers are six acres of vacant fill which have obstructed the Lake for 50 years, with no houses and no water dependent use. The Shoreline Master Plan does not allow the Three Fingers.
OUR MEMBERS’ VOICES
One of our founding members, Vicki Carr, has shared her childhood memories of a beautiful Lakeside Bay before the Fingers. Here’s her 2011 letter to the Lake Chelan Mirror. “Guest Column: Once a beautiful bay,” by Vicki Carr, Lake Chelan Mirror 10/26/2011
CRYSTAL VIEW ESTATES MARINA
On December 5, 2014, Crystal View Estates applied for a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit to remove their existing 6,391 square foot marina and five buoys with an 11,303 square foot marina containing 70 boat slips. The new marina will extend into public land by 110 feet, and require a Department of Natural Resources lease for that space.
Currently, public access is limited to an observation pier, which measures approximately 20 feet by 25 feet. There is only visual access to the Lake; there is no physical access. There is neither parking nor highway signage indicating this “public” access.
Chelan Basin Conservancy submitted comments on February 20, 2015. Our main concern is the lack of public access to the Lake. Our comment letter requested the following:
- a minimum of four public parking spaces be designated within the community parking area;
- that the location of the observation pier and parking be signed on the highway in such a manner as to show the public where they are located in time for cars to turn into Crystal View Estates to park;
- that an illuminated and signed pedestrian crosswalk be installed at the highway, including control and channelization, and signing; and
- physical public access be provided to the waters of Lake Chelan at all levels of the lake.
On June 9, 2015, a Determination of Nonsignificance was issued by the City of Chelan. The city determined that this proposal does not have a probable significant adverse impact on the environment.
As of June 24, 2015, a public hearing on the permit application has not been scheduled.
The application and all supporting documents may be reviewed at City Hall, Department of Planning & Community Development, 135 E. Johnson Avenue, Chelan, WA. The application is also posted on the city’s website.
Observation Deck End
Up Lake View
Down Lake Gate
Up Lake Gate
WAYS TO HELP
If you share our interest in promoting public access to Lake Chelan and conserving the lake’s resources, please join us!
- As a Washington nonprofit corporation and 501( c)(3) public charity, contributions to CBC are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
- Any contribution of $25 or more qualifies you (and your spouse or domestic partner) as a member for the calendar year.
- You may donate online through PayPal
- You may donate by check, mailed to CBC, 2129 West Prospect St., Chelan, WA 98816
- PLEDGE to make monthly or other regular periodic contributions.
- Print the CBC Pledge/Donation/Membership Form
- ATTEND our next meeting. Send us an email (ChelanBasinConservancy@gmail.com) to learn the time and place.
- SHARE us with a friend, or help in another way that best fits you. Contact us at ChelanBasinConservancy@gmail.com.
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