Idaho judge tosses lawsuit challenging Scout land deal

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, May 5 2012 11:05 p.m. MDT

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — A judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging a proposed land deal involving a historic Boy Scout campsite along Lake Coeur d'Alene.

First District Judge John Luster on Wednesday rejected arguments made by opponents of the proposal that involves the Inland Northwest Council of Boy Scouts and Discovery Land Co., which wants to convert the parcel into lakefront properties.

Under the proposal, the Boy Scouts would sell the 420-acre property to the Arizona-based developer, which in exchange would provide 270 acres on a separate bay on the lake while building a new camp for the Scouts.

Boy Scout families and others opposed to the land swap argued that the deal violates terms of the original deed for Camp Easton.

The group, which formed the nonprofit Camp Easton Forever Inc., claimed the land donated for the camp by F.W. Fitze in 1929 was conditioned to always be used for that purpose, essentially giving the camp status as a charitable trust.

Court documents submitted by the group included minutes from a 1929 meeting in which Fitze spells out to the Boy Scouts Idaho Panhandle Council his hopes for a permanent camp.

]The group argued it was simply preserving the intentions of Fitze and protecting the existing camp for future scouts.

Camp Easton Forever asked the judge to halt the deal and issue a permanent injunction to prevent the property from being used for anything except a camp for scouts.

The Inland Northwest Council of Boy Scouts, which has members in northern Idaho and eastern Washington, questioned the intentions of Fitze and the validity of the 1929 meeting. The group argued the meeting minutes were never officially incorporated into the original deed and that the organization was granted title to the land.

In his ruling, Luster said the deed that transferred the land said nothing about permanent use or the creation of a permanent trust for the property. He also ruled that Camp Easton Forever had not established legal standing to oppose the sale.

"There is no asserted loss of money or property" by the plaintiffs, Luster said in his ruling. "Thus, there is no distinct palpable injury shared in substantially equal measure by all or a large class of citizens."

The seven-member foundation board for the Boy Scouts organization voted in February to move forward with the deal. Luster's decision allows the Boy Scouts group to further pursue the deal, though no terms of sale have been established, said the organization's CEO Tim McCandless.

"The discussions with Discovery have been on hold while the suit was pending," he said. "If a satisfactory agreement cannot be reached, Camp Easton will remain at its current location."

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