New site less visible from valley floor
By Don Nelson
The complicated process of moving a small cabin on Flagg Mountain to a less-visible site on the owners’ property was well underway this week, after more than a month of preparation.
The cabin had been boarded up for relocation and a large crane was on the site, which overlooks the upper Methow Valley near Mazama.
The cabin’s short journey apparently brings an end to a long legal process that began more than three years ago, when the structure was first erected on the brow of Flagg Mountain.
A lawsuit was initially brought in 2013 by several former owners of the 10.5-acre site on which the cabin is built, who cited what they claim are binding covenants prohibiting any structure that compromises views from the valley floor. After a series of courtroom skirmishes over who was eligible to bring suit, the remaining plaintiffs were Steve and Kristin Devin of Mazama.
The defendants were the cabin’s Seattle-based owners James Dow, Tom and Jeannie Kundig, and Ben Rand. Tom Kundig is a world-renowned architect whose works include the Rolling Huts on Highway 20 between Winthrop and Mazama.
In an October 2014 ruling, Okanogan County Superior Court Judge Chris Culp agreed that the cabin violates the property covenants and that “removal of the hut from its current location is the only remedy.”
Seattle attorney Ralph Palumbo, who represents the cabin’s owners, said at the time that his clients would likely appeal Culp’s ruling. Instead of following through on the appeals process, the owners decided to move what some nearby residents call the “hanging hut” to a less-visible spot.
David Bricklin, the Seattle attorney who represented former owners of the cabin’s site in the lawsuit, called that a “very good outcome” for his clients and the community.
Bricklin said that the owners’ appeal was put on hold while both sides explored alternatives. “We’re happy they [the owners] decided to resolve this amicably,” Bricklin said. Bricklin said his clients have agreed not to object to the new location.
The cabin’s owners also consulted with nearby property owners about the new proposed site for the cabin, Bricklin said, although they were not required to.
From its new site, the cabin will be invisible from much of the upper valley, but not entirely out of view from the Devins’ property. But “it wont be the stark view they [the Devins] now have,” Bricklin said.
Bricklin said the owners are assuming the moving costs. Move the Hut, a nonprofit organization formed in 2013 to back a legal challenge to the cabin, won’t be reimbursed for its legal expenses, he said.
The cabin’s owners had obtained a legal building permit from Okanogan County. At the time, they described the structure as a hunting cabin that would be used a maximum of 60 days a year. When built, the cabin had no running water, electricity or septic system. It was constructed on pylons that thrust the structure off the edge of the mountain, where it is easily visible from many points in the Mazama area.