Today, a quick update on a heated story out of the close-knit community of Mazama, Wash. that I first reported on back in June that involves blatantly disregarded protective covenants, the preservation of the natural beauty of the upper Methow Valley, and an ill-situated modernist prefab cabin designed by a celebrated architect whose entire coffee table book-friendly oeuvre, ironically, revolves around stunning structures that meld harmoniously into the landscapes surrounding them.
Since the grassroots Move the Hut campaign was launched last summer by outraged and betrayed Methow Valley residents, the offending hut in question — Seattle-based Tom Kundig's sustainably designed weekend getaway that juts precariously over a cliff atop Flagg Mountain for everyone to see, like it or not — has not been moved and a lawsuit that seeks "a restraining order, preliminary and permanent injunctions and damages for violation of the protective covenants placed on the property by former property owners" will have its first trial date in 2014.
Still, the campaign grows all the more strong and, according to a recent email sent to me by Move the Hut volunteer Kathryn Hinsch, over 700 supporters have signed an online petition urging Kundig and co-owner/builder Jim Dow to be good neighbors and do the right thing by relocating the accused eyesore of a cabin — one resident describes it as a "wart on a hillside" — to a less conspicuous location. Writes Hinsch: "Our support is primarily local and the Puget Sound area, but also encompasses Methow Valley visitors, and activists involved in deterring ridgeline building, such as in Vermont, where there is state-wide regulation. We have continued to try to educate the public on the issue and why it is important to the upper Methow Valley."
Filmmaker Katie Turinski has also released a short documentary chronicling the battle titled "Moving Mazama." It's an interesting watch not just for those familiar with this area of Washington state or the work of Kundig (I'm admittedly a huge fan) but for anyone who has had a cherished view soiled by someone who doesn't seem to give a toss about playing by the rules, compromising, or respecting the neighbors.
Explains John Hayes, a plaintiff in the lawsuit against Kundig and Dow: "They knew what they were doing. They took this brave move. Well, this brave move backfired. The community has drawn a line in the sand. We're not big on litigious activity but we didn't ask for this one."
Hayes' sentiments are echoed by Bill Pope, a longtime local business owner and Mazama resident who's heading up the Move the Hut campaign: "It really came to me to start this website and all that because we want to make sure that our feelings are taken seriously as a community. It takes a fair amount of aggravation, I guess, for the community to kind of rise up. But once they do, they become very involved which is kind of what has happened here." He adds: "Kundig will not be embraced by the community if we're all left looking up at the hut. I mean what is the point of having something like that if the community is going to feel like you're not being a good neighbor?"
Take a look and let me know what you think. Should the hut indeed be moved?
Promo image screenshot: William Pope/YouTube
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