Gary Griggs,holly Griggs,& Timothy O'Marra, Apps.

Shawn B Alexander

Practice Area:Real Estate

Outcome:Sucessful Appeal

Description:COLEMAN, J. -- To prevent vandalism, the Cascade River Community Club (the Community Club) placed jersey barriers in front of a private roadway easement that Gary and Holly Griggs and Timothy O'Marra (Homeowners) used as the easiest access to the Griggs' home. Another route to and from the Griggs' home existed, but was longer and required navigating an unpaved hill at 14 percent grade for several hundred feet. Homeowners sued the Community Club to enjoin them from blocking the roadway with jersey barriers. The trial court entered a judgment in favor of the Community Club. Homeowners appeal, arguing that the trial court erred in allowing the Community Club to effectively abrogate the roadway easement and in denying attorney fees. Because the jersey barriers block a permanent roadway easement, we reverse and remand. STATEMENT OF FACTS In the plat dedication, the developers of the Community Club granted easements along private roadways to all members: 'All roadways marked private and designated as a community tract shall provide for a permanent easement for roadway purposes, utilities, and drainage, to all members of Cascade River Community Club, Inc.' According to Betty Gully, who has owned property within the Community Club since 1966, the east upper gate was originally open when she moved there because there was construction in progress on the water system. After the developers replaced the water system, a cable gate accessible only by the caretaker limited access to the east upper gate. In the early 1970s, a Community Club member petitioned the board to install a keyed gate, which he purchased, to give him access directly from the county road through the east upper gate. Later, all members received keys to the gate on the condition that the members close and lock it when not in use. Thereafter, depending on the level of care, the Community Club frequently interchanged the locks between locks accessible by members and the lock accessible only by the caretaker. When the caretaker only lock was on the east upper gate, vandals rammed, bent, and sometimes knocked the gate off its hinges. Because of the continuous damage to the gate, the Community Club replaced the gate a number of times over the years. At its meetings, the Community Club's board discussed problems with the gate about 15 separate times. A Skagit County deputy sheriff recommended that the board close the east upper gate. Upon his advice, the Club replaced the gate with jersey barriers that are movable by heavy, construction equipment only. Homeowners sued the Community Club to force the removal of the jersey barriers in front of the east upper gate. After hearing from Homeowners and several witnesses, the trial court denied the Homeowners' request for an injunction. Homeowners appeal.1

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