Jan 31, 2008

Property Owner Sues Over Storm Water Project

Maryland woman claims city parking lot construction caused damage to her lot, sues for $1.5 million

A property owner in Gaithersburg, Md., has filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against the city, citing storm water runoff improvement work damaged her neighboring commercial parking lot, retaining wall and storm water system."I held the door open for a long time on this," said Tova Fliegel, owner of the Fliegel Building. "Litigation was really a last resort for me."In October 2007, Fliegel testified about the damages before the city's planning commission. Before filing the lawsuit in Montgomery County Circuit Court two months later, she had worked with city staff members and sent a letter to Mayor Sidney A. Katz and the city council.Fliegel said the city's work on one of its parking lots crumbled a retaining wall that supports the parking lot behind her property and resulted in sinkhole damage to several of her parking spaces."We're working hard at getting the wall fixed, regardless of who's supposedly responsible," said Greg Ossont, Gaithersburg's director of planning and code enforcement. "It's going to take a while before it's sorted out.""Rather than go to court, we're seeing if there is some method of settlement," said Special Counsel to the City Stan Abrams. "We don't believe she's got a meritorious case, but if she's got problems, we're going to try and look into them and resolve them."The lawsuit filed by Fliegel said the city failed to implement the appropriate storm water management and storm drain systems on its lot following 2002 improvements such as parking lot islands, brick pavers and a pedestrian bridge. Water flowing downhill from area streets, the suit claims, caused the retaining wall deterioration and sinkhole problems.