Honey Lake Valley Grange, county finally settle dispute
Jan. 15, 2013 — It’s been a long and winding road for the Honey Lake Valley Grange (HLVG) — taking more than a year to resolve a variety of issues with the Lassen County building department, the board of supervisors and the county administration.
The matter apparently was quietly resolved just days before the Christmas holiday, according to correspondence between HLVG and the county administration.
But as of its Tuesday, Jan. 8 meeting, the board and the county had not reported out of closed session that it was negotiating an agreement with the HLVG or that the board had approved an agreement resolving the dispute. The board also has taken no public action on the matter.
Nichols acknowledged the board’s action ratifying the agreement should have been made public, but the report of the action, “slipped through the cracks.” He provided the newspaper with a copy of the agreement the board approved.
Despite reports of “no reportable action” following two closed session discussions with legal counsel, and a report the “board gave direction to staff,” following a Dec. 18 closed session discussion, Lassen County Administrative Officer Martin Nichols notified the HLVG in a Dec. 18 email the board had, in fact, ratified a settlement agreement.
Nichols had written a previous letter to Deloris Riddle, a HVLG member, Dec. 11 announcing that the board of supervisors had “conditionally authorized a $10,000 share of cost to the repair of the Honey Lake Valley Grange” when certain conditions were met. “These conditions are subject to ratification by the board of supervisors following the dismissal of the lawsuit against the county.”
According to the offer letter from Nichols, HLVG was required to “dismiss, with prejudice, its lawsuit against Lassen County,” “provide the board of supervisors with the names and addresses of all its board members,” and “continue in its efforts to recover project funding from the original contractor who damaged the facility.”
The county would make payment of $10,000 as “a share of cost contribution to the repair of the historic Grange Hall as a community facility and resource,” to be paid “directly to the selected contractor and not the Grange.”
The offer also obligated the county “will review and agree that the planned repairs to the facility are in compliance with the building code and will qualify the building for occupancy.”
Court case dismissed
The HLVG filed a claim with the county Feb. 27, but the claim was rejected March 14.
According to a lawsuit filed on behalf of the HLVG by De Loris Riddle and Barbara White, the county and the county’s building and planning department, were responsible for damage to the Grange building because the planning department “neglected their mandatory duties to check for proper licensing of Impact Construction and Excavating and neglected to require the contractor to have engineered plans before issuing permits for the re-roof and rafter repair … ”
According the court file, when the Grange discovered the building had been damaged during the project, it brought the matter to the building department’s attention.
HLVG alleges the county “red-tagged the building and then signed off on the contractor’s work done without permit, with no engineering or structural repairs. We believe if the Lassen County Department of Building and Planning Service had carried out their mandatory duty to require that the contractor had the proper licensing before issuing him permits, our building would not have suffered from his shoddy work.”
According to an Industry Expert Report included in the court file, an exterior wall was 5 to 6 inches out of plumb because the contractor failed “to properly design (engineer) and install new rafter/joist system.”
According to the report, the contractor cut the rafters and possibly caused the issue with the walls, the contractor did not have the plans engineered prior to cutting the rafters and the contractor did not have “a valid license classification for the type of work performed at the Honey Lake Grange” because the contractor holds a Class A license, not a Class B license.
Maurice Anderson, director of the county’s department of planning and building, declined to comment for this story.
HLVG dismissed its lawsuit as a provision of its settlement with the county.
On Dec. 14, HLVG accepted a $7,500 cashiers check from Impact Construction as a “final settlement” of the Grange’s complaint against the contractor it alleges damaged its building.
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