The city must rescind a building permit for a Sanders Beach home, a district judge ruled Tuesday.
That’s a significant victory for the fledgling Sanders Beach Preservation Association and for city residents who want to keep the popular spit of sand as open space.
Joe Chapman, whose foundation construction was well under way, reacted testily to the news.
“Their game is to cause as much controversy and problems … so the city has to take that beach,” Chapman said of the association. But if people pay attention to key Idaho Supreme Court rulings, they will realize “it’s going to stay private.
“I have a way to go and if I have to do it, I’ll do it,” Chapman said. He declined to give details but said he is sure his neighbors are aware of his options.
City Attorney Jeff Jones wanted to brief the City Council before commenting on the ruling, issued by Kootenai County Judge Gary Haman.
The ruling is the latest in a continuing feud over the 4-1/2-block strip of sand that is owned by people who live on the north side of East Lakeshore Drive but that has been used by the public for a century. The fight took its most serious turn when the city approved a footing and foundation permit for Chapman in early September.
The Sanders Beach Preservation Association first tried to persuade the City Council to withdraw the permit. It was rebuffed, and so the group sued.
In court last week, the association argued that a 1928 ordinance prohibits construction south of East Lakeshore Drive. Later city ordinances only reinforce that notion, attorney Ray Givens said.
The city, meanwhile, argued that those regulations were repealed by later laws or subsequent City Council action or were not in effect because they were in conflict.
Haman disagreed, saying the long-standing prohibition on buildings south of East Lakeshore Drive is in force. “If structures and buildings are placed upon the property, the unspoiled views of Lake Coeur d’Alene will be obstructed and access to Lake Coeur d’Alene will be impeded.”
Paul Dircksen, of the Sanders Beach association, was ecstatic. “This supports what we argued at the very beginning,” Dircksen said. “Those ordinances need to be respected.”
“I’d like to hope this case is closed and we won’t hear about it again.” The group is prepared to fight the case if the city appeals, Dircksen said.
Chapman was not involved with the suit and cannot appeal.
Meanwhile, the association hopes to work with the city and property owners “to come to some sort of resolve whereby the beach can be preserved for property owners and the community alike,” Dircksen said.
Givens, the association’s attorney, was out of town and unavailable for comment. His co-counsel, Scott Reed, hailed the ruling and Givens’ effort in the case.
“I see no reason why the city should appeal it,” Reed added. “The city is not hurt. They’ve suffered no financial damage.”