By Don Nelson
The legal dispute over a small cabin built atop Flagg Mountain near Mazama resumes Tuesday (July 8), when a pre-trial settlement meeting is scheduled in Okanogan County Superior Court.
The purpose of the settlement meeting, which is mandatory, is to see if the opposing sides can reach accommodation before the issue goes to trial. Aug. 12 has been set as the date for a non-jury trial before Superior Court Judge Chris Culp.
The small structure, given a county building permit as a “hunting cabin” to be used only 60 days a year, was built on the crest of Flagg Mountain overlooking Mazama in 2012. The cabin has no running water, electricity or septic system. It is built on pylons that thrust the structure off the edge of the mountain, where it is easily visible from many points in the Mazama area.
The suit is being brought by former owners of the 10.5-acre site on which the cabin is built, who cite what they claim are binding covenants prohibiting any structure that compromises views from the valley floor.
Culp earlier eliminated some of the original appellants, but rejected defense motions to dismiss the case outright. Culp said that a “trial is necessary” to determine the “material facts” of the plaintiffs’ claims that the cabin’s construction violates long-standing property covenants meant to protect scenic views from the Methow Valley floor.
The defendants are the cabin’s Seattle-based owners James Dow, Tom and Jeannie Kundig, and Ben Rand. Kundig is an internationally acclaimed architect whose most visible project in the valley is the Rolling Huts Cabins development on Highway 20.
The remaining plaintiffs are Steve and Kristin Devin of Mazama.
The lawsuit against the hut owners was filed in April 2013 by several of the covenant signers.
A nonprofit organization, Move the Hut, was formed last year to back a legal challenge to the cabin. Seattle attorney David Bricklin of Bricklin & Newman is representing the plaintiffs. Wenatchee attorney Michelle Green of Jeffers, Danielson, Sonn & Alyward, represents the cabin’s owners.