Four years worth of legal battles have been waged over the boundaries of the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund site in the Silver Valley, but the affected mining companies have decided to put a stop to that fight - at least for now. It allows several federal agencies to rejoin the Coeur d'Alene Tribe in a Natural Resource Damage lawsuit that is set to begin in January. The Silver Valley mining companies, which likely will pay a major share of future cleanup costs in the Coeur d'Alene Basin, said July 28 they will not appeal a 1,500-square-mile expansion of the EPA's existing 21-square-mile Superfund "box" in Kellogg. "It didn't look like we were left with any real viable option to appeal," said Michael White, vice president of general counsel for Hecla Mining Co. "Basically, we were boxed in." Holly Houston of the Coeur d'Alene Basin Mining Information Center said the other mining companies affected by the Superfund actions do not plan to pursue the appeal either. The decision gives the EPA some discretion to pursue further Superfund cleanup actions in the Coeur d'Alene Basin.
A resort that could cater to nudists does not fit the area's rural nature, said Coeur D'Alene Charles Matheson. He accused developers of "deliberate misrepresentation ... an attempt to deceive local government and then profit from that deception." About 100 people attended a July 26 land use hearing before the Kootenai County Commission. Tom and Linda Janson said they staked their life savings on the proposed Sun Meadow Resort near Worley, then listened to neighbors accuse them of lying to officials and bringing in immoral influences. After the commission approved the resort last year, it was learned from Internet advertising that the Jansons planned to cater to nudists. Neighbors appealed and 1st District Judge Charles Hosack sent the project back to the commissioners, saying the Jansons had a duty to disclose the "potential intended uses" of their property. Janson said use of the resort by members of the American Association of Nude Recreation (with 115 clubs and about 50,000 members) is not a foregone conclusion. The Jansons started building their 75-acre resort which includes 43 recreational-vehicle hookups, 10 rental cabins and a 16,000-square-foot lodge with 10 rooms. The adjacent Sun Meadow Estates would include 16 residential lots. The commission is expected to make a decision Aug. 9.