Moss Spring lawsuit nearing an end

PAT FRIDGEN

The Moss Spring Estates litigation against four parties was one step closer to resolution when Antrim Township supervisors signed an amended settlement agreement April 13. Borough homeowners in the development, which sits in the borough and township, sued developer Frank Plessinger, the Borough of Greencastle, the Moss Spring Homeowners Association and Antrim in 2008 and 2009. Fourteen families in Phase I sued to get out of belonging to the homeowners association in the Planned Residential Development, stating they were never informed or had notes on their deeds that an HOA existed.

After an executive session, the supervisors passed several motions connected to the litigation. Solicitor John Lisko said, "The residents are no longer part of the PRD, assuming everyone else signs the agreement."

Chairman Rick Baer and Linus Fenicle, another attorney appointed March 30 to act on behalf of Antrim, were authorized to sign the documents.

Borough manager Kenneth Womack said Monday Greencastle's counsel had not yet notified them that a revised agreement was ready. He would schedule a council meeting when the announcement came.

James Stein, attorney representing Plessinger, said his client had not signed the new agreement as of last Wednesday. Once all parties have accepted the terms, it will be approved by Franklin County Judge Richard Walsh.

What it means

The agreement releases the 14 families from inclusion in the HOA, which is required by Antrim for any PRD. The unfinished development has over 40 single family homes, all in the borough, in the section called Phase I. Phase IIA in Antrim consists of villas on 15 lots, which gives mixed housing use to the neighborhood.

Twelve other single family lots were always excluded from the HOA because they were purchased before Plessinger submitted his land development plan to Antrim in 1996. Those deeds were recorded in the county courthouse prior to the establishment of the PRD.

The homeowners who did not join the lawsuit are not included in the agreement. Lisko said only the parties involved were now exempt from the HOA. Stein concurred about the status of the remaining families, "It's whatever their deeds say. They are not affected by this litigation."

However, he doubted the other homeowners would receive a bill for association expenses, such as snow plowing or lawn mowing at the villas.

He also contended that all of the Moss Spring deeds were valid, but because of the joint agreement, that would never be determined legally. "This is a settlement and there is no admission by anyone of any wrongdoing."

He also noted that the PRD itself was not affected, even though the ratio of single family homes and villas changed with the document.

Full circle

Mark Litrenta, one of the Moss Spring litigants, said the legal action was the first time he was involved in a lawsuit, and he hoped the last. He was happy with the agreement, noting an HOA had no value for single family homes, though was a great concept for the villas.

He saw the irony of the settlement, reached after two years of wrangling. "Where we ended up is what we asked for when this all began."