LYNN BREWER and DOUGLAS BREWER, husband and wife and the marital community comprised thereof, Appellants,
LAKE EASTON HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, a Washington nonprofit corporation; and MICHAEL D. PECKMAN, an individual, Respondents, JOHN and JANE DOES 1-10, Defendants.
and Douglas Brewer challenge the authority of the Lake Easton
Estates Homeowners Association (LEEHOA) to manage well water
services in their housing development. They also claim
services provided have been inadequate to protect water
safety and property values. Because the LEEHOA's exercise
of authority is consistent with both Washington law and the
terms of the Brewers' deed, the challenge to the
LEEHOA's legal authority fails. Furthermore, because the
Brewers have not shown any tangible injury connected to the
LEEHOA's management activities, their claims for damages
cannot be sustained. The trial court's summary judgment
dismissal of the Brewers' claims is affirmed.
Lake Easton Estates housing development is a 51-lot
subdivision located in Kittitas County. The development's
residents get water through 9 "Group B"
wells. The lot owners in Lake Easton Estates have
unique legal interests in the wells servicing their
properties. The significance of these legal interests lies at
the heart of this appeal.
and development of Lake Easton Estates
development of Lake Easton Estates began in the late 1980s.
In a February 1990 document entitled "Lake Easton
Estates Domestic Water Systems Agreement" (1990 Water
Agreement) was executed and recorded in Kittitas County.
Clerk's Papers (CP) at 24-26. The purpose of the
agreement was to set forth general conditions relating to the
installation, use, and maintenance of individual water
systems for Lake Easton Estates. The agreement noted
different water systems would be installed in the
development, each composed of a well delivering water to nine
or fewer lots. According to the agreement, lot owners would
be responsible for maintaining the well that delivered water
to their property. The agreement further specified the lot
owners served by each individual well had the right to form a
"Domestic Water System Owners Association" for the
purpose of well maintenance. CP at 25.
1992, the development owner recorded an amended
"Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions
of Lake Easton Estates, " (1992 CC&Rs). CP at 52-61.
This document specified that lot owners within Lake Easton
Estates were deemed to covenant and agree to assessments
levied by a homeowners' association. The purpose of the
assessments was "to promote the recreation, health,
safety and welfare of the Owners, and to pay costs associated
with any signage, landscaping, lighting and water
thereof' CP at 54 (emphasis added).
owner purchased a majority of Lake Easton Estates in 1994.
Shortly thereafter, in early 1995, the owner recorded a
"Water User's Declaration" (1995 Water
Declaration), for each of the nine wells in Lake Easton
Estates. See CP at 69-75. The substantive terms of
each declaration were identical. The declarations specified
that each lot had an undivided one-fourth to one-sixth
interest in its servicing well. Accordingly, each lot that
benefited from the well would share equally in the cost of
well construction, maintenance, and testing. The declarations
also prohibited construction of any structure within 100 feet
of a well. The 1995 Water Declaration did not supersede the
1990 Water Agreement. Nor do the declarations mention a
homeowners' association or the 1992 CC&Rs.
LEEHOA was incorporated in 2000. The member lot owners agreed
the LEEHOA would manage the water systems located in Lake
Easton Estates. To this end, the LEEHOA bylaws specifically
authorize its board of trustees to appoint a "Water
Master" to manage water systems within Lake Easton
Estates. CP at 985. Under its bylaws, the LEEHOA is empowered
to collect assessments for a broad array of purposes. Since
its inception, the LEEHOA has collected assessments for the
maintenance and testing of wells located within Lake Easton
Brewers' initial involvement with Lake Easton
2004, the Brewers purchased lot 27 of Lake Easton Estates.
This was one of the lots that housed a well. When the Brewers
purchased their property, they received a preliminary title
report, notifying them of the 1990 Water Agreement, the 1992
CC&Rs, and the 1995 Water Declaration. The Brewers
purchased their lot without the benefit of a real estate
agent. They did not obtain copies of any of the documents
referenced in the preliminary title report.
the purchase process, the Brewers failed to realize the 1995
Water Declaration conferred ownership rights to the well that
delivered water to their property. Instead, the Brewers
assumed the well was owned by the LEEHOA. From the time of
purchase in 2004 until late 2012, the Brewers regularly paid
the LEEHOA assessments for well maintenance and water.
the Brewers started paying water assessments in 2004, they
did not actually connect their house to well water until
2009. With the exception of some sand discovered in the water
at the time of their well connection, the Brewers have never
found any contaminants in their well water. Indeed, since at
least 2008, none of the wells in Lake Easton Estates have
tested positive for any contaminants.
2012, the Brewers applied for a zoning variance from Kittitas
County so they could build a shop on their property.
Neighboring lot owners were notified of the variance request.
The neighbors complained that granting the variance would
violate the 1995 Water Declaration, which prohibited
structures from being built within 100 feet of any well. The
Brewers were surprised by their neighbors' objections,
given that other wells in Lake Easton Estates appeared to
have structures encroaching on the 100-foot limitation,
including structures with apparent sewage lines. Kittitas
County ultimately denied the Brewers' variance request.
Not only did the 1995 Water Declaration require 100-foot
setbacks, so did the applicable state building regulations.
Brewers' disputes with the LEEHOA
coming into conflict over the zoning request and
familiarizing themselves with the contents of the 1995 Water
Declaration, the Brewers stopped paying their LEEHOA
assessments and filed suit. The Brewers claimed that because
the declaration identified them as owners of their well and
specified the method for maintenance and ...