OLYMPIA - The long and strenuous legal battle for the Three Fingers fill on Lake Chelan continued last week with the Washington State Supreme Court listening to oral arguments on Tuesday, Feb. 28.
The man made peninsulas, owned by GBI Holding Co. of Wenatchee have been a frequent topic of conversation in the courtroom over the past six years and face potential removal after more than 50 years on the lake.
Originally the Chelan Basin Conservancy sued for the Fingers’ removal in 2011 after GBI proposed plans to develop the 6 acres of land. After a first ruling by Judge Lesley Allan called for their removal the Court of Appeals reversed the decision last June, saying the Fingers “retained their grandfathered status according to the Shoreline Management Act.”
• Oral arguments presented to Supreme Court
“This case asks the court to apply the Public Trust Doctrine. The Public Trust Doctrine gives the public the right to navigation, the fishery and the corollary rights of recreation across navigable waters,” CBC counsel Brendan Donckers said in his opening argument. “This court has said that the Public Trust Doctrine is Paramount and inalienable.”
However, GBI argues that the Fingers have existed on the lake for 50 years, and, “there’s not a use or development on this property that can occur without review under the Shoreline Management Act,” Jay Geck, counsel for GBI said. “The locals and local citizens participate in developing the master program, so through those robust laws you control the property’s use so that there will be navigation access and public access.”
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