Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Howard County Reaches Settlement on “Cattail Creek” Lawsuit

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman announced today the settlement of the County’s lawsuit against the builder and developer of the Villas at Cattail Creek, an age-restricted condominium community located in Glenwood, Maryland. The County sued NVR, Inc., the builder, and The Villas at Cattail Creek, LLC, the developer, in 2008 for alleged violations of the County’s Consumer Protection statute.

“This suit demonstrates the County’s commitment to ensuring that consumer transactions in the County are free from deceptive and unfair trade practices,” County Executive Ulman said. “I am pleased that this community now has the fully functioning waste water system it deserves and that our agreement provides residents with financial compensation that will assist them in running that system for years to come.”

Settlement with the defendants was reached after the developer replaced the original wastewater septic system with a treatment facility that is now meeting state discharge requirements. The developers have also posted a bond with the County which ensures the performance of the system and have made further modifications to the system to eliminate odors.

The settlement provides benefits valued at as much as $1,051,118 if all homeowners agree to release the defendants of their individual claims and those of the condominium association. If the majority (51%) of homeowners accept the terms of this release, the owner(s) of each unit will receive $3,803.23 in cash and the release of their private front foot benefits charge for the next 28 years (valued at $5,643 per unit). The builder will pay $43,000 to the County for the relocation of a sewer line and $100,000 for the County to use in its oversight of the wastewater treatment facility for the next five years. Homeowners who paid a golf-course view premium will also receive a partial refund.

If less than 51% of Cattail homeowners accept the terms of the release, the County will receive $43,000 for the relocation of a sewer line, $25,000 for its litigation claims, plus $1,903 for each homeowner who opts in to use for its oversight of the wastewater treatment facility. Only those homeowners who paid a golf course view premium and opt-in will receive any monetary benefit.

The County’s suit included allegations that the defendants either misrepresented or failed to provide material information to purchasers regarding: the effectiveness of the community’s wastewater treatment facility; the number of wells available to the community for drinking water; the creation of a nine-hole golf course to be built adjacent to the community; and the provision of other community amenities. The Defendants have denied liability.

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