The Camp Bay barbecue is provided to facilitate access to the lake


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SAGLE — Supporters of preserving public access to Camp Bay Lake are hosting a second barbecue on the disputed beach, this time to support efforts to intervene in a private developer’s legal efforts to privatize the public road and the beach.

The barbecue was originally scheduled for May, but due to bad weather it was rescheduled for Saturday, June 11, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the end of Camp Bay Road. The road ends at the high water mark of Lake Pend Oreille in Camp Bay, an inlet on the east side of the Sagle Peninsula, with views of the Clark Fork Delta, Scotchman Peak and the Monarch Mountains.

Garfield Bay is the only other public road access to the lake on the entire Sagle Peninsula.

Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler and Bonner County District Attorney Louis Marshall issued a press release last month saying the county was not allowing or prohibiting a gathering at the disputed site.

However, they cautioned that this uncertainty only relates to the 50ft strip of land starting at the current end point of the road and extending to the water’s edge.

“All other adjacent property, including the exposed lake bed on either side of this disputed strip, is private. As such, Bonner County strongly encourages the public to respect the property rights of adjacent neighbors and will enforce relevant trespassing and/or vandalism laws, if compelled to do so,” the couple said in the press release.

The event highlights the fight to preserve public access to the 50-foot-wide beach located at the end of the public right-of-way. M3 ID Camp Bay LLC, an Arizona development company, has purchased more than 400 acres of property in Camp Bay after former owner Jim Green convinced Bonner County commissioners to drop the last half -mile of Camp Bay Road last spring in an effort to create a gated community on the bay.

Neighbors Fred and Jennifer Arn appealed the commissioners’ decision and took it to district court, winning a rehearing. The court also ordered the county to pay Arns’ attorney fees.

In its decision to send the case back to the county for a rehearing, the court chastised the commissioners for not allowing all of the evidence and noted in the decision that due to case law the road provides public access to the Lake Pend Oreille, even though county planning staff had said otherwise.

The landowner and consultants never disputed the public status of the beach in the application and related documents. Instead, they argued that it was in the county’s interest to abandon the road because of the expense of maintaining the road and the cost of developing public lakeside facilities.

On February 5, neighbors and citizens hosted Camp Bay’s first barbecue to mobilize support for preserving access to the lake, attracting over 100 attendees.

At the court-ordered rehearing on February 16, residents filled the room and overwhelmingly argued that the county should deny road vacations. A surveyor from M3 suggested at the hearing that the road may not go all the way to the lake, thus questioning public access. This contradicted earlier filings and the Nov. 15 district court ruling.

The commissioners voted unanimously to deny the vacation on the road, but deliberately left open the question of the status of the beach, which was not the stated purpose of the re-hearing.

M3 then filed a motion for judicial review, which is to be heard again in the 1st District Court, although no date has been set. Because neighbors and citizens fear the county won’t defend its decision – or provide evidence in favor of public access to the lake – the Arns have agreed to intervene on behalf of the public, as they have standing to take legal action.

Although the Arns and their supporters are confident they will prevail, interveners generally do not receive attorney fees. As a result, the Arns are accepting all offers of help, including donations on the GoFundMe site and at the BBQ.

As parking is limited along Camp Bay Road, organizers invite people to carpool to the event. To donate online or for more information, visit 50ft.net Where www.gofundme.com/f/50-feet.