News & Features

Opponents to Flathead Lake Bridge Seek Its Removal

Attorneys ask U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to call for removal of bridge built from the mainland to Dockstader Island

The attorneys representing a group of citizens concerned about a bridge on the north end of Flathead Lake have written a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers seeking another cease-and-desist order from the agency.

In the letter to ACE Montana program manager Todd Tillinger, attorney Donald Murray asked the Corps to call for the removal of a road built in the land on the lake’s north shore, as well as the entire bridge that has been built from the mainland to Dockstader Island.

The bridge, built by Roger Sortino and his family, has become a source of contention in the valley. The county approved the lakeshore construction permit in 2011, and that permit has been extended four times since.

Last January, the commission approved an extension that would last until June 1. The developers requested a new extension on May 15. On June 3, 2015, the commission unanimously approved the new permit extension, which will last until June 1, 2016.

The Community Association for North Shore Conservation (CANSC) filed a lawsuit in Flathead County District Court against the county and the commission, claiming the county unlawfully issued a permit for the bridge in 2011.

Murray, the lawyer for CANSC, said in his Jan. 20 letter to the Corps that the most-recent plan to come from Sortino is an 800-feet long, 16-feet wide gravel road from Holt Drive to the connecting point of the bridge.

Murray contends in his letter that the Corps should put a stop to any further construction due to the wetlands on the property coming to harm, as well as the piecemeal construction of the bridge having a greater affect than each individual part.

In a different letter addressed to the Flathead County Planning and Zoning director and the Flathead County Attorney’s Office, Murray outlines reasons why he believes the county misinterpreted the definition of “lakeshore protection zone” in the county’s Lake and Lakeshore Protection Regulations.