Legal costs ascend in SilverWing lawsuit

A model hangar home is seen through a security gate at SilverWing at Sandpoint. (Photo by KEITH KINNAIRD)

SANDPOINT — Bonner County commissioners declared a financial emergency Wednesday to sustain its vigorous defense of a multi-million-dollar lawsuit filed by developers of SilverWing at Sandpoint.

The declaration enables the county to pull additional funding from a contingency account in the county’s justice fund to cover legal costs in the federal lawsuit.

The county budgeted $400,000 in the current fiscal year to fend off the suit and the emergency declaration increases that line item by another $450,000, for a total of $850,000.

The county spent $400,000 during the last fiscal year on the SilverWing suit.

“It’s the nature of the litigation and the risk is so high that we have to fight it aggressively,” said Commissioner Mike Nielsen, noting that an adverse judgment could cost taxpayers up to $26 million. “We cannot afford to ignore this litigation.”

SilverWing, a fly-in housing project under development on west side of Sandpoint Airport, filed suit in U.S. District Court last year, alleging that the county engaged in unfair dealings and violated the developers’ rights to equal protection under the law.

The 45-unit subdivision features hybrid dwellings that are part residence and part aircraft hangar. At the time of the suit’s filing, developers said $6.1 million had been spent grading home sites and installing utility and road infrastructure.

When the developers purchased the 18-acre site in 2007, an easement afforded through-the-fence access to the airport grounds.

SilverWing alleges in the suit that the county sought to shutter direct access to the airport under pressure from the Federal Aviation Administration and was not forthright about plans to relocate a runway, which it argues would encroach onto its property and conflict with a $500,000 taxiway it developed.

The matter is set to be tried in federal court this spring, according to Nielsen.

Read More News

Were opportunities for clues from MH370 debris missed?

AP

January 18, 2017 at 9:42 pm | SYDNEY (AP) — Three nations shelled out around $160 million and years' worth of work on the underwater search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. The result: No plane. The only tangible — and a...

Read More

Vegemite goes home: Oreo maker sells to Australia's Bega

AP

January 18, 2017 at 9:41 pm | CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Vegemite, the salty, brown spread beloved in Australia, is going home, purchased by an Australian dairy company from the maker of Oreos. Mondelez International Inc. sai...

Read More

Task force continues shooting investigation

January 18, 2017 at 4:02 pm | Bonner County Daily Bee BLANCHARD — Detectives from the North Idaho Critical Incident Task Force are still actively investigating the Bonner County officer-involved shooting, according to a Wednesday press release. The two...

Read More

Investigation finds school threat unfounded

January 18, 2017 at 1:51 pm | Bonner County Daily Bee Lake Pend Oreille School District found no credible threat after reports on social media that a student had made a threat at Lake Pend Oreille High School. District officials said students had been ...

Read More