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Antrim Township settles six lawsuits

March 16, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, PA. -- Antrim Township has settled its six lawsuits against Jeff and Connie Todd out of court, effectively ending more than two years of litigation in a compromise.

The township agreed Monday not to seek repayment of legal fees and to lessen the setback requirement for their driveway, despite one resident's request to go to court.

In exchange, Jeff Todd agreed to post a $24,937 line of credit or bond that the township can draw on if he does not meet the requirement of the agreement within nine months, according to the Global Settlement and Release Agreement.

The settlement, signed Monday, requires Todd to replace drainage pipes, make stormwater management upgrades, move his buildings to at least five feet from the property line and move his driveway to at least one foot from the property line.

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The litigation began in 2006 when the township sought to close Todd's Auto Body Shop and force Todd to comply with township ordinances.

Township Solicitor John Lisko recommended the Antrim Township Board of Supervisors approve and sign the settlement, which was drafted Feb. 26.

"What it boils down to is do you want to continue this lawsuit over moving a driveway 10 feet versus one foot?" Lisko said to the board. "I'm the one to benefit by continuing the case through my attorney fees, but I don't think it is the right course to take to not settle this over moving the driveway 10 feet."

Lisko said both sides compromised on their demands.

Todd's attorney, David Martineau, said Todd signed the agreement Monday and received a preapproval letter for the line of credit.

Todd is glad to see the conflict come to an end, Martineau said.

Todd's neighbor, Dave Minnich, did not share Todd's sentiment.

Minnich has a case pending in civil court to determine where the line is between his property and Todd's.

Signing the agreement with Todd might end litigation but it sets a precedent, Minnich said.

"He should be held to what the ordinance requires now, not to what it will require down the line," he said. "This sets a precedent."

Antrim Township code requires driveways to be at least 10 feet from any portion of a property line.

The settlement requires Todd to move his driveway to be at least 1 foot from the line between his and Minnich's property.

Supervisor Sam Miller said the township compromised on the driveway because it plans to change the requirement for driveway setbacks.

Zoning and Code Enforcement Officer Sylvia House said she hopes to advertise in April for an ordinance amendment that will change the driveway setback requirement from 10 feet to 1 foot.

Board Chairman Curtis Myers acknowledged Minnich's concerns but said he voted for the agreement because in it, Todd agreed to put up a bond through First National Bank of Greencastle.

Should Todd not make the changes in time, Myers said the township can draw on the bond and do the work itself.

"I guarantee I will have a contractor on line at one minute past midnight the next day if he doesn't do the work in nine months," he said.

Todd has nine months from Feb. 26 to comply with the agreement, Lisko said.

Supervisor James Byers was absent.

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