Montgomerys pitch new Wonn Road deal

A part-time Greenbank couple sued by Island County for blocking a Coupeville public beach access has sweetened its settlement offer.

Joanne and Bruce Montgomery earlier this week removed from their offer the possibility of forcing the county to accept one of four other Greenbank beachfront parcels instead of the much debated and sought-after historic access at the eastern end of Wonn Road.

The new proposal is set for public comment and possibly a vote by the Island County commissioners on Tuesday.

Like the original offer made mid-month, the new offer would return the Wonn Road access, on which the stone wall is built, within 10 years or when the latter of the Montgomerys dies, whichever comes later. The wall could then be removed.

The county would still get an additional west-side piece of beachfront property and $50,000. The Montgomerys would still have the right for 10 years to propose alternative beach access sites, though whether to accept those proposals would rest entirely with the board.

But the Montgomerys would no longer have the right to give the county one of four other waterfront properties instead of the Wonn Road access. That was one of the main sticking points of the original proposal, to judge from public comments made to the commissioners at a recent meeting.

The changes were made “in response to public comment and other inputs,” County Prosecutor Greg Banks said Friday.

“My sense is these changes are more favorable to the county and the public than to the Montgomerys,” he said.

Jane Seymour, an attorney for advocacy group Island Beach Access, said the new offer “leaves a whole list of issues that are very troublesome.” The group is a party to the lawsuit but has not been included in settlement negotiations. None of the commissioners could be reached for comment.

The fracas began when the Montgomerys in 2008 built the low wall adjacent to their home, claiming its location was on their property. The county, in March 2013, sued to remove the wall, and pretrial negotiations yielded the settlement offer.

Read the new settlement proposal at http://tinyurl.com/hql2qqv.