Camp Bay Road decision will go back to Bonner Co.

Judge remands road vacation back to BOCC, does not rule on lake access issue

By Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey
Reader Staff

First District Court Judge Cynthia K.C. Meyer remanded the vacation of Camp Bay Road back to the Bonner County Commissioners for a second time on Sept. 20, ruling that the board should once again consider whether vacating a portion of the road would be “in the public interest.”

Sunset at Camp Bay. Photo by Dan Eskelson.

M3 ID Camp Bay, LLC, the company behind a large development at the end of the road, filed the petition for judicial review in March after the board reversed its earlier decision to vacate the road, citing what commissioners believed to be inconclusive evidence as to whether Camp Bay Road provided public access to Lake Pend Oreille.

According to the ruling, in an additional motion filed in early August, M3 “stated that it had formulated a proposal concerning the Application in which Petitioner would create and dedicate a public pathway to provide public access to the Lake in exchange for the Application’s approval.”

“The court determines that good cause exists to allow the BOCC to consider Petitioner’s Proposal, which is material to the BOCC’s public interest determination regarding public access to the lake,” Meyer’s ruling reads. “Good cause also exists for judicial efficiency, mitigating costs for the litigants, and would allow the BOCC to review its factual determinations regarding the legal status of Camp Bay Road, if it so chooses.”

Fred and Jennifer Arn, who successfully litigated to have the vacation remanded back to the commissioners in 2021 and intervened in M3’s petition this year, have led the movement advocating for recognition of public access to the lake at Camp Bay Road.

“As I read the judge’s opinion, it seems to me, now is the time for the citizens of North Idaho and all people who enjoy the lake to let the commissioners know how they feel,” Fred told the Reader on Sept. 26. “The one thing this all hinges on is the term ‘in the [public] interest’ and to let the commissars decide what’s in our interest probably isn’t going to work.”

Fred said he’d like to see an “overwhelming response” from the general public.

“We will try to present [the] clear evidence that the viewer’s report is very clear and proves there is public access to the lake,” he said, “but it’s the people who speak for the people.”

M3 and its legal representatives did not reply to a request for comment before press time.

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