Legal costs ascend in SilverWing lawsuit - Bonner County Daily Bee: Local News

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Legal costs ascend in SilverWing lawsuit

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Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013 10:00 am

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.

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  • WhatNext posted at 9:25 am on Tue, Oct 22, 2013.

    WhatNext Posts: 189

    Silverwing is a California developer. Yet another rape of North Idaho by a Californian. I guess the only saving grace is some City and County officials personally profited from Silverwing during the development process.

  • Cow Puncher posted at 9:00 pm on Mon, Oct 21, 2013.

    Cow Puncher Posts: 1

    The county has spent easily over a million bucks already--on a California law firm. Must be nice to play with other people's money . . . [sneaky]

  • LakeViewer posted at 5:10 pm on Sun, Oct 20, 2013.

    LakeViewer Posts: 936

    If you were selling insurance, would you insure the county? No one in their right mind would. When they lose this lawsuit, the only recourse will be bankruptcy. Seems to be in vogue these days for government agencies.

    I think we should sell the courthouse, the admin building and the airport to private interests now, before bankruptcy, and distribute the proceeds to the taxpayers. Then we can all go party when Bonner county government is "closed".

  • Here's What I Say posted at 11:16 am on Sat, Oct 19, 2013.

    Here's What I Say Posts: 1240

    Doesn't the county have insurance for this sort of thing? Most cities and counties insure, not self-insure. Our county knows they can tap excess funds instead of paying for insurance. Which do you think is cheaper, folks?

  • Ruby Ridge posted at 3:55 pm on Fri, Oct 18, 2013.

    Ruby Ridge Posts: 72

    Mammoth Lakes in California got into a lawsuit with a developer over their airport. Now they are in bankruptcy court. SETTLE you idiots.

  • LakeViewer posted at 10:33 am on Fri, Oct 18, 2013.

    LakeViewer Posts: 936

    The law, clearly stated, does not apply to the commissioners because the local prosecutor will not prosecute. Prior commissions decided to ignore the feds re the airport. More stupidity.

    The illegal funding activities continue. The existing commission approved the multi-year purchase of the sheriff's new APC, which is clearly illegal. Why? Because the prosecutor will not prosecute. The prosecutor probably gave advice to the prior commissions that it was OK to approve private development in the middle of our public airport. Stupid, and illegal.

    We need to get rid of this prosecutor in the next election, and put someone in office there that will cleanup the illegal shenanigans going on in this county, the likes of which date back many years.

  • reddawn posted at 9:46 am on Fri, Oct 18, 2013.

    reddawn Posts: 1995

    Silverwing blames our county. Any flyer is full aware of the FAA rules and regulation's. To put total blame on the commissioner's is once again a play . Every pilot is aware of the rules set by the FAA, silverwings takes absolutely no responsibility of knowing those laws. They are both equally responsible for what was created. The sad part is, the commissioner's do not do the home work needed in the front end before they start any big project, like the run way, the court house. And don't think some of us didn't warn them this was bad and to get out, many did. However when you don't hear the voices of those around you and close the door you then make us pay the price.

  • ski2work posted at 8:49 am on Fri, Oct 18, 2013.

    ski2work Posts: 633

    maybe there are some funds left from the Court House debacle. Hmmm, I guess not.

  • Queenie posted at 5:20 pm on Thu, Oct 17, 2013.

    Queenie Posts: 379

    The good old boys are at it again. There is no legal defense only illegal defense. In fact there may not be anything legal about Bonner County.

  • MichaelN posted at 3:15 pm on Thu, Oct 17, 2013.

    MichaelN Posts: 502

    Who is our legal defense? Where are they from? Who hired them?

  • Bonner County Taxpayer posted at 12:39 pm on Thu, Oct 17, 2013.

    Bonner County Taxpayer Posts: 12

    Good illustration of the mindset that contributed significantly to the origin of this situation a long time ago.

  • Bonner County Taxpayer posted at 12:38 pm on Thu, Oct 17, 2013.

    Bonner County Taxpayer Posts: 12

    It began in 1993.

  • Angeloftruth posted at 12:22 pm on Thu, Oct 17, 2013.

    Angeloftruth Posts: 80

    Something tells me this is only the beginning.

  • LawrenceFury posted at 11:27 am on Thu, Oct 17, 2013.

    LawrenceFury Posts: 828

    And of course the county has all of our interests in mind. Any wonder why many think it's time for tax strikes, civil disobedience, in insurrection? On nearly every level, federal down to the local.