ROCKY W. FLETCHER and DELORES L. FLETCHER, husband and wife, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
LONE MOUNTAIN ROAD ASSOCIATION, an Idaho Unincorporated Non-Profit Association; ALAN K. SIMS, individually; EDWARD J. SITAR, an individual; LOU ANN STAMP, an individual; EUGENE DEPAULIS, an individual; RICK M. PICCININI, an individual; KATHLEEN STONE, an individual; THOMAS D. VALENZUELA, an individual; DANIEL D. GREGG, an individual; ROY STULTS and JANE DOE STULTS, husband and wife; ANDREW J. PONDER and JANE DOE PONDER, husband and wife; ROBERT L. IMPERATRICE and JANE DOE IMPERATRICE, husband and wife, Defendants-Respondents, and OUGLAS B. GRANT and JANE DOE GRANT, husband and wife; CCM, LLC, an Idaho Limited Liability Company; BRIAN REED, an individual; LINDA D. SUTLIFF, an individual; RAWLAND L. AHLMAN, Trustee of the RAWLAND L. AHLMAN LIVING TRUST and CHERYL A. WILSON, Trustee of the NORMA A. AHLMAN MARITAL TRUST; JANET L. RICHMOND, an individual; GARY A. WILSON and JANE DOE WILSON, husband and wife; and JOHN K. MOATS and JANE DOE MOATS, husband and wife; and THE ESTATE OF RYAN C. WELLS, Defendants.
Opinion No. 71
from the District Court of the First Judicial District of the
State of Idaho, Kootenai County, Hon. Charles W. Hosack,
Senior District Judge.
judgment of the district court is affirmed in part, reversed
in part, and the case is remanded for entry of a judgment
consistent with this opinion.
Vernon & Weeks, P.A., Coeur d'Alene, for appellants.
Susan P. Weeks argued.
Ramsden, Marfice, Ealy & Harris, LLP, Coeur d'Alene,
for respondents Sims and Ponders. Michael E. Ramsden argued.
McCrea & Linscott, PLLC, Hayden, for respondents Lone
Mountain Road Association, Valenzuela, Stults and
Witherspoon Kelley, Coeur d'Alene, for respondents Stamp
Sitar, Athol, pro se respondent.
M. Piccinini, Athol, pro se respondent.
Kathleen Stone, Athol, pro se respondent.
Gregg, Athol, pro se respondent.
and Delores Fletcher ("the Fletchers") appeal from
the judgment of the district court in Kootenai County. The
Fletchers' action sought a declaratory judgment outlining
the rights and responsibilities of property owners in the
Twin Lakes Meadows Subdivision ("Subdivision") with
respect to a private road known as Lone Mountain Road
("Subdivision Road" or "the Road"). The
district court determined that the Subdivision's
Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions
("CC&Rs") were ambiguous and contrary to Idaho
easement law. After finding that the CC&Rs were
ambiguous, the district court declared that all lot owners
who used the Road had the right to make reasonable repairs to
the Road. The Fletchers appeal, arguing that the district
court erred when it found the CC&Rs to be ambiguous and
that they should be strictly applied. The Fletchers also
argue that the district court erred when it failed to declare
that dust from the Road created an additional burden on their
servient estate and by failing to declare that the Lone
Mountain Road Association had no right to maintain the Road
or to collect assessments. We affirm in part, reverse in part
and remand for further action by the district court.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
1981, S&S Drilling and Development Company
("S&S") owned and developed a parcel of
property in Kootenai County that would become the
Subdivision. S&S recorded the Subdivision CC&Rs on
June 22, 1981. All lots located within the Subdivision are
subject to the CC&Rs, which "shall run with the land
and shall be perpetually binding upon [S&S] and its
successors-in-interest and assigns, and all parties having or
acquiring any right, title, or interest in or to any part of
Subdivision was platted in two phases and the district court
referred to the separate platted parcels as "the
Surveyed Property" and "the Eastern Property."
When the CC&Rs were recorded, only the Surveyed Property
had been platted. The Eastern Property was subsequently
platted in 1983. The Surveyed Property comprises eighteen
lots, eleven of which adjoin the Subdivision Road. The
Eastern Property consists of eight lots which are all
connected to the Road.
Subdivision Road was initially cleared, graded, and graveled
by S&S but the CC&Rs provide that it is to be
maintained by the lot owners. The Road runs to the east
through the Subdivision from the intersection with Ramsey
Road, a county road which runs north and south on the western
boundary of the Subdivision. The right-of-way for the
Subdivision Road is sixty feet wide. The parcels on the north
and south sides of the Subdivision Road are each subject to
express easements providing thirty foot strips of land for
the Subdivision Road. The Road gives several Subdivision lot
owners access to their parcels.
Subdivision Road originally extended through the Surveyed
Property. In 1987, the Road was extended into the Eastern
Property, where it comes to a dead end.
Fletchers purchased Lot 4 in the Surveyed Property in 1981.
The Fletchers' lot is located on the north side of the
intersection of the Subdivision Road and Ramsey Road.
Although various associations for road maintenance have been
formed over the years, none of the associations have been
created in conformity with the provisions of the CC&Rs. A
defendant in this action, Lone Mountain Road Association
("the Association"), was formed as an informal
association in 2006. In September 2009, owners of 9 lots
entered into a "Mutual Repair and Maintenance
Agreement" formalizing their commitment to the
Association. The agreement stated that all participants would
"mutually share the cost of repair and maintenance of
Lone Mountain Road." The agreement also provided that
the Association "shall exclusively govern the future
actions and responsibilities of the [signatories] related to
the repair and maintenance of Lone Mountain Road." Alan
Sims, the owner of a lot in the Eastern Property, became
president of the Association. The Fletchers, as well as a
majority of the other parcel owners in the Subdivision, do
not belong to or participate in the Association.
maintenance of the Subdivision Road (including snow removal)
has been performed by lot owners and the Association. Delores
Fletcher suffers from asthma which is aggravated by dust from
the Road. In the past, the Fletchers, have oiled the first
200 feet of the Subdivision Road at their own expense for
dust control. In 2008, the Fletchers applied asphalt
grindings to the Subdivision Road for dust control. Following
the record-setting winter of 2008, the asphalt grindings
began to break up making it difficult for some vehicles to
travel the Subdivision Road. In the spring of 2009, Sims,
acting as president of the Association, hired a contractor to
cover the asphalt grindings with gravel and to grade the
Subdivision Road. In May 2009, the Association sent the
Fletchers a letter which demanded that the Fletchers not oil
the Subdivision Road. The letter stated that if the Fletchers
did apply road oil, the Association would remove and/or cover
response to the letter, the Fletchers filed this action
seeking a declaration of the rights and obligations of lot
owners with regard to the Subdivision Road. On November 16,
2011, the Fletchers filed their amended complaint against the
Association and the owners of lots that fronted the
Subdivision Road. This complaint named the Association and
the owners of nineteen parcels fronting the Subdivision Road
trial was held from March 30-April 3, 2015. The district
court found that five of the nineteen defendants who owned
property fronting the Subdivision Road had never used the
Road. The district court further found that the remaining lot
owners had waived any right to seek contribution from these
lot owners for maintenance unless they used the Subdivision
Road in the future. The district court found that the
CC&Rs were ambiguous as to maintenance and contribution
requirements. The district court found that the each of the
fourteen lot owners who used the Subdivision Road had the
right to make repairs and perform maintenance on the Road but
that there was no right to contribution from any other lot