Waitsfield can continue work on its municipal water project on Reed Road after a Superior Court injunction was lifted.
The town recently settled with one of two landowners on Reed Road, which led to the injunction being lifted last month. While the town settled with one landowner, negotiations along with condemnation proceedings are underway with a second landowner.
On June 11, the board signed the agreement with Reed Road landowner Jean Damon whereby she will receive $230,000 for .71 acres of land on Reed Road where the town has drilled a well for a municipal water project in the road right of way. The sum also settles Damon’s claims in three separate lawsuits against the town regarding the road and the water project.
The settlement comes after six months of negotiations between the town and Damon. The town has also been in negotiations with Virginia Houston whose property also abuts Reed Road. The town began condemnation proceedings at the same time as it began negotiating with the two landowners for access to the well after a Vermont Superior Court judge ruled that the town had not shown sufficient proof that Reed Road was a town road. That ruling led to the injunction, preventing the town from working on
The town drilled the well for the water project in 2007 based on legal advice that it was a town road. Houston and Damon challenged that assumption leading to last December’s Superior Court ruling. Work on the water project began last fall and when it resumed this spring, the only portions that were under construction were those away from Reed Road.
The settlement with Damon leaves the town still in negotiations and involved in condemnation of 1.22 acres from Houston. Houston is involved in multiple legal actions against the town over the water project.
By September 1, the town and Houston’s attorneys will hold a status conference on the condemnation that got underway in January when the town held a necessity hearing for the water project and concluded that it was necessary. Houston appealed that ruling and also appealed the payment of $41,000 which the town paid for the 1.22 acres.
Houston has asked that a panel of three commissioners hear the condemnation proceedings rather than a single judge, and the town has agreed to that request. With such a request, both parties select a commissioner and that duo will select the third commissioner.
That hearing will consider the condemnation proceedings. Houston is also involved in separate federal litigation with the town, alleging that her civil rights were violated over the course of two decades.