Owners forced to install pipe, suit claims
The owners of Savage Land Pizza have filed a lawsuit in Spokane County Superior Court against Spokane County Water District 3, alleging that the district forced them to install a water main as a condition of opening the rebuilt restaurant after it was destroyed by a fire in 2008.
According to court documents, the district signed an agreement with the previous owner of the property in 1995 stating that the owner would install a water main by 1996 and be reimbursed by adjacent property owners. The work was never done.
The district also apparently signed a so-called “latecomers agreement” with Spokane Structures Inc., the general contractor hired to rebuild Savage Land, that states that any money collected from new property owners connecting to the main would be given to Spokane Structures as reimbursement.
“The statute said the property owner is the beneficiary of the latecomer agreement,” said attorney Matt Ries, who is representing Savage Land. “Why the district chose to do it with the general contractor is a mystery. We’ve never really had any great explanation as to why it happened.”
“He came in and represented the owner,” said Water District 3 general manager Ty Wick. “We had no way of challenging that. He paid the fees and caused the water main to be installed. As far as we’re concerned, he is the owner’s representative.”
Savage Land paid Spokane Structures $90,000 to install an 8-inch water main to replace the old 4-inch main and to extend the line farther south. The owners didn’t want to pay for the work, but finally gave in, Ries said. “In order to get their business back up and running, they just did it,” he said. “We’re simply asking the district to share the responsibility with other landowners.”
Wick said the new 8-inch main was required to service the new fire sprinkler system the owners installed. “It was required to comply with the code for the business,” Ries said. “It did have to be expanded.”
Wick also defended the decision to have only those who hook up to the line in the future help pay for the new main rather than existing customers. “The people who are connected have already paid their connection fee,” he said.
A court hearing to set a trial date has not yet been scheduled.