Settlement reached in subdivision suit

PARKERSBURG – Wood County commissioners were informed a settlement had been reached in a civil action involving the Meldahl Place subdivision.

Residents of the development came before commissioners several years ago with complaints about the roads in the subdivision.

After no compromise could be reached, a civil action was filed in Wood County Circuit Court with the county commission as plaintiff against the developer, Lewis L. Mitchell. The Westfield Insurance Co. also was named.

“The commission was involved as part of the enforcement obligation. The county neither gets any money or pays any money,” Parkersburg attorney C. Blaine Myers, special counsel for the commission, said.

Myers said the settlement was for $15,000. Westfield is to pay the Meldahl Place Homeowners’ Association $11,000 and Mitchell is to pay the homeowners’ association $4,000.

Mitchell could not be reached for comment on the settlement.

The association was a cross-claimant in the litigation.

“A release has been signed by all parties, the insurance company was involved because of the bonds,” Myers said. “I believe the settlement was fair from the standpoint for the homeowners. The commission has to approve the settlement, I can’t do it as your legal counsel,” Myers told the commissioners.

“This started about four years ago, we felt the homeowners out there had been taken advantage of at the time. We started talking to everyone involved and were trying to be fair to everyone and seek a settlement and have the developer follow through with his obligations. So justice is served, it just took a long time,” commission President Wayne Dunn said.

Dunn was involved with the negotiations and meetings between homeowners and the developer in an effort to settle the issues before taking the matter to court.

The commissioners unanimously approved the proposed settlement.

Proposed plans for Phase II of the subdivision were accepted in October 2001 by the county, the plans included street construction. In accordance with subdivision regulations, a surety bond was posted by the developer Mitchell and Ohio Farmers Insurance, Westfield Center, Ohio. The bond was to insure improvements were completed as required.

In September 2003, the county approved Phase III of the same subdivision and a surety bond was posted by Mitchell and Ohio Farmers Inc. That bond was to insure improvements were completed in Phase III of the Washington area development.

The homeowners contended the developer did not construct the streets in the subdivision in accordance with the plans and failed to construct other improvements outlined by the subdivision plan. The county called in the bonds on the grounds the developer failed to comply with the stated obligations. According to the legal action, the county was notified the insurance company refused to make payment on the bonds on the grounds that the “deficiencies in the construction of roadways were beyond the scope of the bonds.”

The county contended the insurance company had a duty to pay both bonds.

Homeowners came before the commission in 2008 with their complaints.