Weyerhaeuser suit against Homestead approaches

NORTH BEND _Weyerhaeuser and Homestead Valley Sand

and Gravel will soon face off in court in a battle over property rights to land

the gravel company is currently mining.

Sept. 18 is when Weyerhaeuser will present its case against

Homestead, which is owned by Dan, Joe and Randy Fiorito. The Homestead

pit, located just off Exit 38 on Interstate 90, has been operating on

approximately 15 acres of Weyerhaeuser land on Grouse Ridge in conjunction

with a sand and gravel mining lease.

Those 15 acres are part of Cadman Inc.'s proposed gravel mining

operation, which is currently working its way through approval stages.

Homestead representatives said both their company and

Weyerhaeuser agreed that the Homestead project would last well past the initial

four-year lease with three-year extensions.

Weyerhaeuser Manager Grant Newport said the company does

not comment on matters currently under litigation, but company officials

have said in the past that after the initial lease ended in May of 1999,

the Fioritos should have terminated their project.

But Homestead General Manager Jason Fiorito said it's not as simple

as that. He explained that when his father and uncles took over the

mining operation in 1992, it needed major repairs and was a potential

environmental hazard. Their objective was to clean up the area and stabilize the steep

slope that runs up to Weyerhaeuser's property by taking layer after layer of

soil and gravel off the top.

He said Homestead had a "court ordered" reclamation agreement,

and the company then entered into a lease with Weyerhaeuser because the

slope would cut into Weyerhaeuser's land.

Homestead's gain from fixing the slope is financial. The company

has generated revenue by selling material taken from the slope.

Weyerhaeuser has been receiving a portion of the proceeds.

However, Weyerhaeuser terminated the Fioritos' lease in May

of 1999 after both parties, "did not agree to essential lease terms," which

lead to the lawsuit that was filed in the Superior Court of Washington for

King County.

Jason Fiorito contends that everything was running smoothly

until Weyerhaeuser entered into an agreement with Cadman for the

proposed North Bend Gravel Operation on Grouse Ridge.

"I understand their motivation, which is to permit the lower

(Cadman) site," Fiorito said. "My operation

on the ridge, concurrently with them trying to get a (gravel mining) permit,

is problematic."

He added that only 25 percent of Homestead's reclamation project

has been completed _ something that he said Weyerhaeuser was well aware

of. He said the reclamation plans were to take at least 20 years.

"Weyerhaeuser does have corporate amnesia over this deal,"

Fiorito said. "We're not prepared for Cadman and Weyerhaeuser to get a big win

in their corner and have Fiorito brothers take a big loss in ours."

Chief Circuit Judge J. Kathleen Learned will hear the case at 9

a.m. Sept.18 at the Court of General Jurisdiction, Superior Court of

Washington for King County.

Our Mobile Apps

Community Events, April 2014

Add an Event
We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Apr 16 edition online now. Browse the archives.