Friday, February 15, 2002
Valchuis brothers file second lawsuit
What has been a tangled history has just become more complicated with the filing of a second lawsuit by the landowners Michael Vale (formerly Michael Valchuis) and David Valchuis against the planning board and four Berry Corner Lane homeowners. The latest suit seeks to overturn the board's January denial of a one-house lot plan and to determine whether the owners of Berry Corner Lane have violated the existing easement agreement.
Only four of the five homeowners are included in this suit because they are party to a 1996 easement agreement that allows for the enforcement and negotiation of restrictions to the Vale and Valchuis's property.
For the past seven years, brothers Michael Vale and David Valchuis have attempted to get permission for one house lot on their thirteen acres. Their land adjoins the 1968 Berry Corner Lane five-lot subdivision. They have an agreement with the Berry Corner Lane homeowners that provides for access to the land and have over 300 feet of frontage. The planning board denied the plan in 1996 and the brothers brought suit against the board. That suit is still unsettled.
Although the neighbors have yet to be formally served, they are aware of the new lawsuit. Berry Corner Lane resident Dick Wells' reading of the suit is that it "strongly implies that there exists an agreement to the effect that we are expected to contribute to the rebuilding of the lane." Wells confirmed that the easement agreement does limit the Vale/Valchuis brothers to one house lot on their thirteen acres and requires them to give up their access to South Street.
Over the summer, the Vale/Valchuis brothers improved the roadway "as agreed" according to resident Judy Wells. Wells asserted that the brothers sent a letter to the homeowners requesting payment of their onesixth portion, an amount of $9,000. The maintenance obligation and costs are what is disputed in the suit with the landowners.
Richard Dacey, the attorney for the brothers, views the easement agreement between the homeowners and the brothers as, in fact, implying an obligation onto the other homeowners. Dacey described the agreement as, "silent on the issue of the maintenance obligation for the other homeowners. Yet it requires the Vale/Valchuis to pay onesixth of the cost of maintaining the road. The agreement lacks the corresponding specifics as to who should pay the remaining five sixths."
The elements of the suit involving the planning board irelate to the board's refusal to endorse the plan submitted in January and their insistence on a maintenance plan. The board is also requesting an enforceable maintenance agreement as terms to settle the original suit from the 1996.
Dacey recounted that the original 1968 planning board decision on the subdivision had no conditions requiring maintenance of the dirt road. Referring to the current board's insistence on an enforceable maintenance agreement Dacey contended the "Planning Board looks at it as a historical defect. [It is] somewhat unfair to go back and be critical of a decision made in 1968."
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito