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Shoreline homeowners put city on notice for upcoming lawsuit

A letter of intent to sue the City of Bainbridge government for damages over a 2001 shoreline building moratorium has been sent to the city.

The author of the letter, Gary Tripp, said six plaintiffs would be represented in a lawsuit that claims their property values were impacted by the moratorium.

Tripp said the lawsuit will be filed in Kitsap County Superior Court next week, and island land use attorney Dennis Reynolds confirmed that a lawsuit was being drafted.

"We're done dealing with the city," Tripp said. "From now on we're going to deal with them through the courts."

In 2001, Bainbridge enacted the shoreline moratorium limiting shoreline construction while it updated its Shoreline Management Plan.

A small group of shoreline homeowners, construction firms and building advocates filed suit against the city over the moratorium.

In 2007, the State Supreme Court stated in a 5-4 decision that the city's moratorium was illegal.

In part, the decision hinged on the time span of the moratorium the city renewed and continued the restrictions, denying shoreline development applications for over three years.

The letter of intent and legal action brought forward by the Bainbridge Ratepayers Alliance over sewer fund allocations were the subject of a closed-door executive session of the city administration and council on April 22. City officials had no comment on the potential lawsuit because it has yet to be filed.

In the letter of intent, Tripp said: "...the city's illegal rolling moratoria unlawfully interfered with and denied the plaintiffs statutory and constitutionally protected property rights to develop their waterfront parcels... as well as the right to sell their property with the certitude of the right of the purchaser to build a protective bulkhead, dock, stairs to the beach and or other normal appurtenances."

The letter was written on behalf of the Bainbridge Defense Fund, a Washington nonprofit that incorporated less than three months ago under Tripp's directorship.

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