OKANOGAN – Gamble Land and Timber Ltd. and Cascade Holdings Group have filed a complaint against Okanogan County seeking quiet title to land in the French Creek-Texas Creek area near Pateros.
The companies contend in the Okanogan County Superior Court filing that the county claimed an interest in the property at issue in 1955, but has no right, estate, title, lie or interest in or to the property or any part of it.
The suit was filed March 3. Okanogan County filed a response March 7 and asked the court to dismiss the complaint with prejudice and with an award of costs to the plaintiff, or to enter judgment for the county.
“As investigation and discovery into this matter has just commenced, Okanogan County reserves the right to amend and supplement this answer, including the assertion of affirmative defenses and claims against other individuals and entities,” Chief Civil Deputy Prosecutor Albert Lin wrote in the response.
On Sept. 19, 1955, the then-county commissioners adopted a resolution outlining the road system. Among those named were French Creek-Texas Creek and Watson Draw-French Creek Road.
In 1968, the county changed its road numbering system so that the two roads were identified as County Road No. 1543, and in 2003 another resolution separated the road into No. 1543 for Texas Creek Road and No. 1545 for French Creek Road.
French Creek road is around 7.66 miles long and starts at the end of Burma Road No. 1535.
“At the time the resolution was adopted, the county did not pay any compensation to the French Creek Road landowners, or their predecessors” for the road right of way, the plaintiffs contend.
They also argue the county did not follow proper statutory procedures for acquiring title to French Creek Road, and say they or their predecessors actually built and maintained the road.
The plaintiffs also argue they did not turn over the road to the county and that the county never made improvements to the road nor maintained or repaired it.
“Any use of the French Creek Road by the public has been with the permission of the plaintiffs,” the suit said.
Both ends of the road have been gated, one end for at least 40 years and the other since 2009, according to the filing. The road goes through land owned by Gamble Land and Timber, Cascade Holdings and the state Department of Natural Resources.
In 2009, the suit said, the county declared that except for 1,825 feet of the road granted as a right of way to Jim, Beverly, Ralph and Sadie Weddle, it had no records and documents saying that the road was a public right of way, and that it disclaimed any interest or jurisdiction over the road.
Gamble Land and Cascade Holdings are asking the court to declare that they are entitled to the quiet and peaceful possession of the property. Signatories on the suit are John W. Cascade “Cass” Gebbers, vice president of Cascade Operating, and Jody Gebbers, secretary of Cascade Operating.
Gamble Land and Timber and Cascade Holdings Group are represented by Davis, Arneil Law Firm, Wenatchee.
Seattle attorney Alexander Mackie, with whom the county has contracted for a variety of special representation, also filed a notice of appearance on the county’s behalf.
Chiliwist residents, who are involved in a road vacation case involving the county and Gamble Land and Timber, and several individuals have expressed interest in the case and say they are opposed to the county turning over more road rights of way to private ownership.