SPOKANE, Wash. --- A private land owner on the South Hill Bluff is suing the contractor who plowed a road through his property – and the public conservation land.
Randall Bracher, on behalf of his family company Bracher Properties LLC, filed a lawsuit against Swedberg Contracting Corp., the contracting company that did the work.
The road was built to allow access to a 3-hole golf course for non-profit First Tee near the Qualchan Golf Course. So far, no organization has come forward to take responsibility for approving the removal of trees on the conservation land or the Bracher property.
"Did anyone check with the Bracher family? Absolutely not," said Ryan Yahne, an attorney for the Brachers.
Bracher’s lawyer said the family had been working with the City of Spokane to come to an agreement about keeping their private land open for recreation in the past months. The family had become concerned after a 2014 incident when a squatter’s camp on the property had caused a fire and trash. Originally, according to the statement, the family had considered fencing off the area, but after the community asked them to keep the land open and the City Parks Director, Leroy Eadie, worried about vandalization of the fence, the family began discussing ways to keep the property open, “while at the same time protecting the property from environmental damage,” the statement said.
"The interesting part was that these lease negotiations were going between the Brachers and Leroy Eadie at the same time that the negotiations that lead to this road with First Tee seemed to have been going on, yet we weren't told anything about those negotiations," said Yahne.
The family said in a statement they spoke with Eadie several times “over many months” of negotiations and he made no mention of the proposed golf course or road. They said they were “shocked and saddened to learn from media reports and Friends of the Bluff about the trespass and property damage that occurred.
KREM 2 reached out to the City of Spokane Parks Department but no one was immediately available to comment.
In the lawsuit, the Brachers argue Adam Swedberg’s company bulldozed about 1,300 linear feet of road and substantially damaged trees and the surrounding environment.
“Swedberg intentionally and unreasonably committed waste and injury to the land when he bulldozed, cut down and destroyed trees, timber, shrubs, and the natural landscape,” the lawsuit reads. They said the destruction “caused substantial damage to the property, destroyed the natural landscape and cut down numerous trees.”
The family said they have been in contact with Avista and plans to work with them to restore the bluff.
"We believe it's very important that we assess the damage ourselves, so we are gathering a team of experts," said Yahne. "We'll go out there and do our own assessment and go from there. Of course, we'll work with Avista the best we can on their plans as well."
KREM 2 reached out to Swedberg, but he said he did not have an attorney on the lawsuit yet. If he responds, this story will be updated.