County slapped with lawsuit Patrick Parkinson Of the Record staff
December 23, 2005
A group of attorneys from Salt Lake have filed another development-related lawsuit against Summit County.
The newest battle is over the development of property in Silver Creek where the plaintiff, Anderson Development, would like to construct commercial real estate on land northwest of Silver Creek Junction.
County officials have resisted efforts by the builder to begin grooming the land for construction, which included issuing Anderson Development a stop work order when the company’s efforts may have threatened wetlands in the area.
In the latest lawsuit, however, Anderson attorney Michael Hutchings asks for $10 million in damages from Summit County and Summit County Service Area No. 3. He claims county officials have attempted to illegally condemn his clients’ land in the Snyderville Basin by allowing runoff to damage the property.
Before building, the developers will likely have to remove some of the water that often runs off onto land Anderson Development hopes to build on in Silver Creek. But the developer has argued with Summit County in court over whether the pools on the land adjacent to Interstate 80 and Silver Creek Road are naturally occurring wetlands or were created by development.
Hutchings now claims Summit County’s negligence in not maintaining culverts, storm drainage systems, ditches, roadways and other infrastructure has caused the runoff to damage the land which is slated for several acres of commercial real estate.
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The attorney represents several individuals with development interests in Silver Creek who claim county officials damaged their land when they altered culverts and ditches near the property. Service Area No. 3 oversees water and road maintenance in Silver Creek.
Permits "regulated and approved" by county officials for construction of roads, homes and other buildings in Silver Creek have also caused uncontrolled runoff to damage the land, Hutchings’ latest lawsuit claims.
According to Hutchings, the county violated its own development codes by not properly regulating runoff from new subdivisions.
"We would adamantly deny that," said Silver Creek resident Marv Maxell, who helps manage Service Area No. 3. "We’ve tried to control [runoff] as development went in and we’ve tried to look at natural drainages and make sure everything is hunky-dory." Service area board members were told about Anderson Development’s concerns regarding storm water runoff last year, Maxell said. "Litigation is a way of life with Anderson Development and their law firm," he said. "This is the way they do business."
Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer says Anderson Development has never proven that the water they claim has damaged their property is not naturally occurring. "Somehow, we’re responsible for their wetlands but they don’t say how the county is responsible for an act of God," Richer said Friday.