Charlie Huether will not get his 8.9-million dollars, at least not yet. Lee County wants more time to study the claims he is making before possibly making a settlement with the property owner.
"It's okay, we've been waiting 3 years on this, so we can wait a little longer if it means we avoid going to court," said Huether.
He owns 77 acres on the west side of Three oaks Parkway extension, on the north side of Bonita Springs. He claims the Lee transportation department made a lot of mistakes building the roadway, such as allowing contractors to use his land as a staging area and to dump materials there. He claims Posen Construction dumped asbestos-contaminated soil on his land. Posen later removed the dirt. He also says the county mishandled drainage along the roadway, further damaging his property.
"The mistakes began as small, honest ones, I beleive, but they grew into bigger and bigger mistakes and people realized, they could not deal with the mistakes, because someone would lose their job," Huether told WINK. "The problem is that as soon as you mention asbestos, the land becomes worthless. You cannot sell it to anyone. That is why I want the county to do the right thing and buy the land from me."
Commissioners said, not so fast. They want to meet in private, executive session, to talk about details of the case. They followed the advice of county attorney David Owen, who said they should reject the nearly 9-million dollar settlement. "They have not even filed a lawsuit against us, so we don't know what all their allegations are. You usually don't settle, before a suit," Owen told the board.
Huether agreed to give the board 45 days to meet in private and then get back to him with a response. "I feel pretty good about it. The system works," he told WINK as he left the commission meeting.