Settlement Plan Possible for Florida Keys RV park

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October 1, 2010 by   - () Leave a Comment

The two-year-old lawsuit over sewer fees against the city of Marathon, Fla., may not be settled in the courtroom, after all, reported.

A trial date was set for Oct. 13, but a court-ordered mediation session last week has apparently resulted in a compromise that both the city and homeowners in the Key RV mobile home park can live with.

Neither party divulged details of the settlement, but both said a deal is in place and must now be approved by the Marathon City Council and a 60% majority of the mobile home park's owners.

"There's definitely an agreement in principle and we're waiting for them to do their internal vetting process and see if they're on board," City Manager Roger Hernstadt said.

The Key RV homeowners association sued the city in October 2008. It alleges discrimination in assessing the park residents more than $1 million combined to connect to the city sewer system, which is still under construction. Several versions of potential settlement agreements have bounced around but never been agreed upon.

The lawsuit essentially boils down to whether it's legal to charge Key RV's individual owners the same sewer fees as other equivalent dwelling units in the city based on the form of ownership. The mobile-home park switched to a condominium form of ownership in 2004.

Single-family homeowners in Marathon pay $5,700 per EDU, which is what Key RV residents were slated to pay. There's also reportedly been wrangling over who will install and be responsible for maintaining sewer lines at the park.

Signs are reportedly posted at Key RV announcing the makings of a settlement are in place. But David Paul Horan, the park's attorney, said the deal is not yet done.

"We believe we can recommend it whole-heartedly. It took a long time for everybody to come to grips with how complex some of these things are. I'm more hopeful than I've ever been that we have something good for both the city and Key RV. Stopping litigation is always a good thing," he said.

Horan said nothing about settlement details, but acknowledged the city was unbending that the park "conform to their [sewer fees] methodology." He said the agreement is "not a sweetheart deal" for Key RV.

"I think that this conforms in every way with the methodology," Horan said.

Councilman Pete Worthington attended the nine-hour-plus session on behalf of the city. He said he's confident the settlement is fair to both sides.

"If another condo comes to us saying we did something special for Key RV…. I think this is something we can do for anybody," he said.

No timetable has been set for the city council to consider the settlement at a public meeting.

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