County follows IBA with motion to end Wonn Road fight

A judge may make a decision this summer on the ownership of a small piece of beachfront property in Greenbank that’s been in litigation for three years.

The Island County prosecutor, representing the county, filed a renewed motion for summary judgment in the lawsuit against Alan and Joanne Montgomery on June 2. The couple built a stone wall at the end of Wonn Road in 2008, claiming that they own the property that residents had long used as a beach access.

Under state law, road ends that terminate at the shoreline are public access points, but the Montgomeries have a deed for the property.

The county filed the lawsuit against the Montgomeries in 2013. The couple successfully had the case moved from Island County to Skagit County Superior Court.

The motion asks the judge to find that the county is the rightful owner of the property. The county’s action follows a motion for summary judgment by Island Beach Access, a group that advocates for public beach access and has intervener status in the lawsuit.

Prosecutor Greg Banks said the county’s motion for summary judgment focuses on the chain of title of the real estate. He said the county traced the Montgomerys’ deed back in time and found that it seemed to “pop up out of nowhere.”

Island Beach Access, however, relied on supposed new evidence in its motion. That includes the fact that the couple received a settlement from their title insurance company for an anticipated loss of privacy when the county is found to own the disputed land, the group’s motion claims.

In 2013, the judge denied the county’s original motion for summary judgment as well as the Montgomerys’ motions to dismiss the lawsuit.

The Montgomeries offered the county a settlement earlier this year, but the county commissioners declined to accept it.

The couple has yet to file an answer to either motion for summary judgment. They may also file a summary judgment motion of their own.

A hearing on the motions is scheduled for June 30. If the motions are denied, the matter will likely go to jury trial scheduled for Oct. 11.