21 JAN 2021
January 2021 Dearborn Landowners, We have a lot to update you regarding the Dearborn Landowners Association so thank you for taking the time to read this letter.
1. Roadwork: This year we were able to spend $21,315 on material and had 46 truck loads of road mix gravel brought up which were spread over some of the worst areas of Dearborn River Rd. (starting at the very bottom) and Upper Sawmill Crk Rd, making a significant difference. Many volunteers helped in managing traffic so trucks could navigate the roads safely. Work went smoothly and we got a lot done. Dick Frye organized the whole event and Pat Racicot ran the grader. Everyone did an exceptional job. Thank you.
2. Spring Meeting: Not sure yet whether we will be able to hold a spring meeting due to continuing covid restrictions. This is a year to vote on new board officers, so we will do everything possible to host this meeting. Cards will be mailed out in May if we can meet in person.
3. Dues: annual dues are $100/lot. As you know this is primarily used for road maintenance. Bylaws request that dues be paid by June 1st. This year we've had an extraordinary influx on new landowners, most of which have contacted the Association and paid their dues. Thank you for being proactive and supportive and we welcome you to the Dearborn. If you are selling a lot Contract for Deed, please put contract buyer on the return invoice with their mailing address.
4. JRN lawsuit update: For new landowners- please refer to our website www.dearbornloa.com for documents explaining the lawsuit. Basically, JRN (John & Ruth Sechina) sued the Association in an attempt to legally close off Powerline Rd with a locked gate. (Powerline Rd. branches off Dearborn River Rd, crosses the Dearborn River and is the only access to the 38 lots on the west side of the river in L & C county.) Landowners have voted that there are to be no gates. “ All roadways are to remain open and ungated.” On September 28, 2020 the District Court in Great Falls ruled that Powerline road is a Perscriptive Easement and awarded the Association attorney fees of $96,650. John and Ruth appealed to the Montana Supreme Court and had to deposit the awarded fees into an appeal bond until the Supreme Court ruling.
The next step was a mandatory mediation which was not surprisingly unsuccessful. The legal process is slow and costly. Thank you to all the landowners who have supported the Association board. We currently have an outstanding balance with our attorney of $18,030 and anticipate an additional $5-7000 in cost through the Supreme Court ruling which we anticipate taking 7-8 months.
Based on our attorneys counsel, we feel what is at risk at the Supreme Court is the amount of attorney fees the court will award the association. So, it is our responsibility to make sure all attorney fees are paid. We ask you to please continue to support the board as we have this approximate balance of $25,000 that needs to be paid.On the Dues Invoice, there is a line for Legal Fees donations.
The board maintains a confidential list of all legal donations. When the lawsuit is finalized, should we have a net return, then those who contributed to the legal fund can decide what is done with their donation. We will cross that bridge when we get there. To respect our roadways is to respect every other landowner who depends on our private roadway system for access and recreation. Access is of course an understood necessity, however recreational use is a significant value of the Dearborn community, ie: visiting with friends, atv rides on our extensive roadway network, fishing and floating the beautiful Dearborn River and our two river parks. These are significant values why each of us invested in our own property. The pursuit of happiness is the ultimate expression of personal freedom. With freedom comes responsibility. They are two sides of the same coin. The 34,500 acres of private land of the Dearborn community are ours to enjoy but also to defend. The net result from this lawsuit is that we will have a Montana Supreme Court ruling on our roadway Easement here in the Dearborn. Yea! We won, you won!
5. Bylaws update: We anticipate doing a Bylaws update vote on the Bylaws revision as submitted by the Bylaws committee. Thanks to all of you who have invested time and effort on the Bylaws committee. To have a voice and vote, your dues must be paid in full. So the vote mailer will only go to those who have paid their dues in full. For this reason we encourage all landowners- pay your dues so you can have a voice in this important vote. 6. Landowners database: This mailer is probably the most comprehensive that we've ever had. Over the past several months, one of our landowners, (who wishes to remain anonymous) spent months creating a landowners database from Mt. Cadastral encompassing all of the properties that are identified in the Dearborn Landowners Association area as defined in the 2006 map created by Pat Halcro, who worked in the Cascade County mapping dept. ( Should any landowner believe their property is included in error, please contact the Association.
Access www.dearbornloa.com for all contact information.) Theoretically, this is the most up to date list available. The intent is to have this list updated annually. From all of us, thank you. As you can see, over the past year there have been many landowners who have actively helped and supported the Dearborn community.
Thank you to all of you!
Dearborn Landowners Association board Pat Racicot- President
Cindy Scott- Vice President
Art Powell- Sec./Tres.