PARKERSBURG -Wood County commissioners have given an attorney the authority to negotiate a possible settlement in a civil action filed against Meldahl Place and the subdivision's developer Lewis Mitchell.
Attorney Blaine Myers, who represents the Wood County Planning Commission, was hired earlier by the commissioners to represent the county with regard to the matter.
Filed in November, the complaint, seeking a declaratory judgment, was filed by the commission naming Mitchell, Westfield Insurance Co. and Meldahl Place Homeowners' Association Inc. as defendants.
According to the complaint, in October 2001, the county accepted proposed subdivision plans submitted by Mitchell for Phase II of Meldahl Place, which included construction of streets. In accordance with subdivision regulations, a $20,000 surety bond was posted by Mitchell and Ohio Farmers Insurance, Westfield Center, Ohio. The bond was to insure improvements were completed as required, according the complaint.
In September 2003, the county approved Phase III of the same subdivision and a $20,000 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 defendant Mitchell failed to construct streets and roadways within Meldahl Place subdivision Phase II in accordance with the subdivision plan and further failed to construct other improvements as required by the subdivision plan," according to the complaint.
Mitchell was notified of the deficiency in a an inspection report dated in November 2008.
The civil action also claims Mitchell did not construct any roads in Meldahl Phase III either.
The county then called in the bonds on the grounds that 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 is contending the insurance company has a duty to pay both bonds.
The civil action seeks a declaratory judgment and notes the homeowner's association may have a claim against the insurance company for losses and damages, which accrued by reason of the insurance company's refusal to pay.
Myers asked for an executive session on Thursday with the commissioners citing attorney/client privilege and an Open Meetings Law exemption, which permits a closed door session if the matters to be discussed could adversely affect another's reputation. The executive session lasted about 20 minutes and afterward commissioners voted unanimously to grant Myers the authority to negotiate a potential settlement.
"This matter was first brought to the current county commissioners' attention back in October 2008," commission President Blair Couch said.
Mitchell could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.
The civil action has been assigned to Wood County Circuit Judge J.D. Beane's court.