The Camden County Commission will be responsible for attorney fees racked up in a lawsuit that involved the improper vacation of subdivision roads approved by the executive body in 2012 and 2015, which have now been overturned.

The Camden County Commission will be responsible for attorney fees racked up in a lawsuit that involved the improper vacation of subdivision roads approved by the executive body in 2012 and 2015, which have now been overturned.

Circuit Judge Robert M. Liston issued the judgment on September 27 in the 26th Judicial Circuit in the case of Ronald G. Wondel, et al, petitioners, and James Charter, et al, intervenors, third party plaintiffs versus Camden County Commission, et al, respondents.

The plaintiffs filed suit requesting administrative review of the abandonment of alleged roadways in the Purvis View Subdivision in Camden County pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act and sought relief in Mandamus and Declaratory Judgments, according to the document.

The court found that the Commission failed to provide the necessary 15-day notification prior notice and to follow procedures required by law for the road vacation process, and therefore reversed the Commission orders from April 2, 2012, and June 2, 2015. The costs of the court actions are to be solely taxed against the Commission.

However, the Mandamus Writ requested by the plaintiffs was denied and the Temporary Writ vacated, ultimately denying the request for a Declaratory Judgment.

“The Court finds the issues of Plaintiff’s petition requesting the Court to find the actions of Defendant County Commission herein to be arbitrary are not adequately supported by the record,” Liston wrote. “This contention is denied.”

The judgment sends the matter back to the County Commission “due to the lack of proper procedure.”

“The issue of harm to the parties Plaintiff herein can be resubmitted to the Commission if desired,” according to the ruling. “The tort claims, having been excluded by the court, were not considered.”

According to court records, the platted roadways were established in 1934 with a plot of the subdivision, but were apparently never properly surveyed. The issue dealt with property owners’ ingress and egress, right of way, and road easements related to the initial development.

“As to whether the County Commission was arbitrary and unreasonable, the court cannot so find. The Commissioners may have been aware of the same facts mentioned by this court above. The record is insufficient to know this answer. Findings of fact made by the commission were too sketchy,” according to the judgment. “It is doubtful that defendants ever intended to landlocked anyone.”

This particular subdivision is also tied to a federal lawsuit filed pro se also against the Commission by resident Marshall Peterson, who was a petitioner in the lawsuit. That lawsuit was served on June 5, 2017.

“We’re obviously happy that we won, as it will remove the cloud from our titles that this vacate-roadway placed there. By statute, we’ll recover our attorney fees — which were considerable,” Peterson wrote in an emailed response to the Lake Sun. “I wish the court’s judgment would have been more comprehensive to cover the injunctive relief I’m seeking in the federal court case. That relief will help ensure that this doesn’t happen again; to us, or anybody else.”