Kearns and Sons RS Aesthetics

Town of Stevensville declines settlement offer

By Michael Howell

The Stevensville Town Council declined an offer by Roy Capp, owner of the Fort Owen Ranch, to settle a dispute with him without going to court for $16,765. The Capps have threatened to sue over damages to their cropland which they attribute to the town’s installation of a sewer main through the property.

Attorneys for both parties have been in discussion and the town’s attorney brought the offer to the council last week. He said the offer, if accepted, would resolve any claim being made by the Capps concerning damage to the field. He said initially the Capps were seeking about $23,000 but they have agreed to settle for the lower price.

The sewer line was installed in 2014 and LS Jensen was the contractor. According to Town water and sewer superintendent George Thomas, the restoration work was done and photographs taken by the mayor had shown that the field was in good shape following the restoration but then declined.

Police Chief James Marble, speaking only as a town resident, called the offer “ridiculous.” He said if you look at the amount of land disturbed and restored it’s only a few acres. He said one acre of alfalfa was only worth $800 to $1200.

The council voted unanimously to decline the offer.

Another claim looming between the Capps and the Town has to do with the swimming pool encroaching upon Capp property. The fence line also encroaches on the Town’s property at the west end. The proposed agreement would be that both parties accept the encroachment of the other. But it would prohibit the town from claiming any right to the property due to the encroachment of the pool and if the pool was no longer used the encroachment easement would cease to exist.

The Council voted unanimously to approve this agreement.

The town’s attorney could not say if the encroachment agreement would be accepted without the other settlement agreement or not. He plans to relay the outcome of the vote to the Capps’ attorney and will return with some response.

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