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June 9, 2011     The Quincy Valley Post-Register
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June 9, 2011
 

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A6 June 9, 2011 VALLEY NEWS Judge asks Crescent Bar suit parties to consider waiting for federal ruling BY CHRISTINE PRATT Wenatchee World SPOKANE -- Alawsuit filed by condo and RV-space leaseholders fighting evic- tion from Crescent Bar Island is still alive, after a federal judge Thursday declined a Grant County PUD motion to dismiss the case. But U.S. District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush ordered attorneys for both sides to consider postponing the case until federal dam authorities issue their own ruling on whether the islanders can stay -- a process that could take years. Attorneys have until "high noon" June 17 to issue their opinions on the proposed postponement, the judge said during a conference call with attorneys. The World, and some Crescent Bar islanders, listened by phone. The judge said that if he agrees to postpone, he would order that the island- ers' eviction be halted until their lawsuit is resolved• The judge repeatedly told attorneys that he would not issue any ruling that would conflict with a decision by the Federal En- ergy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The judge said FERC has the final say on whether the leaseholders can remain on the Columbia River island, although the islanders could appeal a FERC ruling. The FERC is currently studying a "shoreline master plan" the PUD has filed that doesn't include island condos or year- round RVs. Islanders have asked FERC to let them stay. The proposal to postpone came after attorneys for the PUD and co-defendant Port of Quincy observed a predicament: Future litigation of the present suit hinges on FERC's still undecided ruling about the islanders' eviction. The judge said he and his staffhad spent "countless hours" studying the attorneys' arguments, and it seems to him that: • Both the PUD and port had expressed written agreement in the 1970s to extend the lease, given FERC approval, to 2023. • That the PUD and port intended to make a "good-faith effort" to work with federal authorities to extend the lease, but then both changed their positions• • That the islanders may have relied on these and other assurances to invest in their RV homes on leased lots and leased condos• • The islanders could make a "pretty good Fifth Amendment claim" against the PUD and port. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation• "In fairness to everyone, it would seem to me that the extension of this long-term lease for another l 1 years would resolve innumerable problems arising from the port district's extending the lease to 2023," the judge said. "..• the defendants on the fact of the complaint made innumerable commitments to lessees to obtain FERC approval• It would appear from the face of the complaint that the defendant port district and PUD may well have breached commitments." The owners of 110 island condo- miniums and 305 RV spaces filed suit in January demanding the PUD honor their leases through 2023 or pay damages for their eviction. Their own lease agreements, which show expiration dates in 2012, come under a sublease from the PUD to the Port of Quincy to develop the island for recreation and then from the port to private developer Crescent Bar Inc. to administer the island. The port sought a lease extension in the 1970s because the private developer said it needed a longer lease term to get financing for the condos it built there. The islanders' suit doesn't mention a damage amount, but in early efforts to settle with the PUD, they demanded new leases or $90 million. In their motion to dismiss,the PUD and Port of Quincy had claimed district court was the wrong venue for a dispute linked to a federal license to operate hydroelectric dams. The PUD owns Crescent Bar as part of the lands affected by the water levels behind its Columbia River dams, Priest Rapids and Wanapum. The PUD contends that FERC no longer approves of residential use of PUD lands, so the islanders have to go. QVMC: Continued from front page the blaze. Daisy Hernandez and her son Nelson Hernandez Jr. were awakened by the fire, said fam- ily friend Debra Latimer. They were trapped in their bedroom by the flames. Daisy had no choice, but to swaddle her son in a blanket and run through the flames in her bare feet to escape the burning home, Latimer said. She suffered extensive burns on her legs and Nelson Jr. was burned on his back. Daisy Hernandez's husband, Nelson Sr., was traveling to Spokane at the time of the fire. Daisy and Nelson Jr., were transported to Quincy Valley Medical Center by private vehicle and then transported to Harborview Medical Center, where they are being treated for their burns. Latimer, who is the director of the Quincy Animal Shelter, said the Hernandez family, Chuck AllenPost-Register The home of Nelson and Daisy Hernandez is now a smoldering heap after a fire on Thursday, June 2. along with their extended fam- ily, are volunteers at the shelter and are very nice people. Since the family lost every- thing in the fire, donations of clothing and household goods are being taken for the family at the shelter. Also an account has been set up at Washington Trust Bank for people to make monetary donations to the Nelson Hernandez family. For information, call the animal shelter at 787-8010. REGIS-I'ER D,00TING CLASS June 15 @ 7 pm This class is recommended for ages 11 (going into 6th grade) and up Parents are encouraged to attend Our focus is . When and why to date . 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