Sunday, December 10, 2023

Facts about waste-water treatment plant land deal

| October 26, 2022 12:00 AM

Last week there was a letter to the editor regarding how the Waste/Water Treatment Plant sale of land was being handled, casting doubt on Mayor Dan Rowan’s character and ability to serve as a county commissioner.

The mayor does not make final decision on any actions that affect the running of the town of Plains. That is done by the Plains Town Council.

The town lost a significant amount of land with a change in the flow of the river at the waste-water treatment plant and we were advised to move it out of the flood plain by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Looking at a few sites, the town approached Nick and Erika Lawyer to see if they were interested in selling 10 acres plus a well setback area. They agreed to sell.

By Montana law the town can only offer what the appraisal comes in for plus 10%. The town hired one appraiser to establish value and then consulted another independent appraiser to review the first appraisal. The valuation plus 10% was $186,450 and was offered to the Lawyers as a final offer by the Plains Town Council. They refused the offer.

Nick Lawyer came to a town council meeting and told us they wanted more than $1 million for the land. The town council rejected that in keeping with state law we authorized the filing of condemnation proceeding.

In mediation the town and the Lawyers agreed to a compensation amount of $470,000 plus the obligation to pay for a new irrigation well on another piece of property owned by the Lawyers we also were responsible for all their attorney fees.

At that time Nick Lawyer stated that they received fair compensation and signed the agreement, however the Lawyers did not abide by the terms of the agreement by identifying the location of the new well and filed a motion with the court to deny the town access to the property that you the taxpayers had paid for, and the town held the deed to it. This motion was not granted.

So, we once again went to mediation and settled on $10,000.

To date the people of Plains have paid the Lawyers $480,000 that includes the appraised value plus their claim of $150,000 in attorney fees.

We have only one item to complete and not 12 as put forth in Erika Lawyer's letter to the editor.

Facts matter and I just listed the facts.

—Connie Foust, Plains Town Council, Ward 1, Seat 1

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