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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Idaho

Civil suit filed in dredging case

Taryn Brodwater Staff writer

A Spokane businessman should restore the riverbed in front of his Post Falls property to the way it was before he illegally dredged a boat slip last May, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday by Idaho regulators.

The civil suit names Spokane businessman Thomas Hamilton, architect Al French and Clearwater Summit Group, the company that performed the dredging in front of Hamilton’s Spokane River property and placed an unauthorized culvert on state land. Hamilton is awaiting trial for related criminal charges.

“We have met on several occasions to mediate, to try to come to some agreement on how to fully restore the dredging,” said Mike Denney, area supervisor for the Idaho Department of Lands. Denney said an agreement could not be reached, so the suit was filed as a last resort.

Hamilton reportedly dug a 150-foot channel for a boat slip at his riverfront home last Mother’s Day weekend, allegedly muddying the water and prompting complaints from neighbors. State, county and federal officials told The Spokesman-Review that the work was done without the proper permits.

Hamilton, reached on his cell phone Thursday, said he had no comment.

“Want to know something?” Hamilton said. “I’m in Hawaii. Go call my lawyer.”

Hamilton’s lawyer could not be reached Thursday afternoon. French, a Spokane city councilman, said Hamilton is handling all interaction with the Department of Lands regarding the matter.

Ty Ullman, an owner of Clearwater Summit Group, said they weren’t aware a civil suit had been filed.

“We thought this thing basically was resolved,” Ullman said. “It sounds like something broke down.”

The civil suit demands the defendants restore the state’s property by taking the following actions: fill in the dredged riverbed, replant wetland vegetation, stabilize the riverbank and “perform other measures recommended” by the State Board of Land Commissioners.

The state also is asking the court to force Hamilton to seek a submerged land lease for the illegally placed culvert.

Hamilton, French and Clearwater Summit Group are being asked to pay $2,500 in fines for violation of the Lake Protection Act and for the cost of the lawsuit.

When three criminal misdemeanor charges were filed against Hamilton last July, he told The Spokesman-Review that he believed he had the proper permits when the dredging work was done.

“There is no way I would do something like that and not have the approval of the agencies,” he was quoted as saying.

Hamilton told the newspaper that he wanted to deepen a natural inlet in front of his property for a boat slip rather than have a pier jutting out into the river. An estimated 200 cubic yards of mud were dredged.

Denney said it’s hard to guess the dredging’s environmental impact – or any future implications. He said the Department of Lands is working with other agencies, including the Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Fish and Game to answer that question.

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