Poolesville settles lawsuit over treatment plant -- Gazette.Net



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Poolesville will pay $650,000 as part of a settlement to resolve a lawsuit involving the land around the town’s Budd Road water treatment facility.

The money is part of an $800,000 payment to purchase three tracts owned by town resident Nelson Hernandez.

Hernandez had sued, claiming that the town created a nuisance to his properties, trespassed on his property and breached a contract with the previous owner of the land in building the treatment facility last year.

The plant cost about $1 million to build, Town Manager Wade Yost said.

The lawsuit was filed in May 2012, according to court records.

According to the complaint filed with the lawsuit, Hernandez bought the properties in January 2003 with the intent to develop them with single-family houses.

The town had an agreement with the previous owner to build a well on the nearby well site, but the complaint claimed the town decided in 2010 to build a treatment plant in addition to the well to remove uranium and radon from well water without notifying Hernandez.

Two of the three lots share property lines with the well site, while the third lot is about 136 feet north of the well site.

The lawsuit also claimed that the town trespassed on one of the properties while building the facility.

The suit also claims Hernandez tried to sell one of the lots, but the deal fell through because of the construction of the uranium treatment plant.

Neither Hernandez nor a lawyer listed as representing him responded to multiple phone messages.

The town’s insurance company, the Local Government Insurance Trust, will pay $150,000 of the $800,000 settlement, Poolesville Commissioner President Jim Brown said at a meeting June 18.

During the legal process, the town decided it would be better for the issue to be mediated rather than go to trial, and a retired Maryland Court of Appeals judge was hired to mediate.

The settlement arranges for Hernandez to transfer the three lots, which Yost said totaled about 3 acres, to the town in exchange for the $800,000 payment and the lawsuit being dropped.

The town will use money from the fiscal 2014 budget that had been planned to activate a new well, a project that will be put off until later, Yost said.

Brown said the three properties could end up being used for a recreational area, but no decision had been made.

Although the litigation was settled before it went to court, the discovery process did uncover several potential issues with some of the companies used to build the treatment plant, Brown said.

Town attorney Jack Gullo said he didn’t want to make specific allegations against anyone until the town is sure it will take action.

But he said decisions on whether to pursue litigation against any companies involved in building the plant would likely be made by the end of summer.



rmarshall@gazette.net