Friday, June 17, 2011

Lawsuit halts park project

Plaintiffs claim donor had no right to give land to city

Express Staff Writer

Development plans for a new city park in Ketchum have been put on hold following a lawsuit filed against the city and an estate representative who donated the land.

DHD Properties LLC, whose members are Nancy Dreyer, Kenneth Dreyer and Robert Dreyer, filed a complaint in 5th District Court June 7, claiming ownership of part of the land that has been dubbed Farnlun Park.

The piece of property donated for the park is a narrow strip of land adjacent to the Ketchum-Sun Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant. The area is bordered by Meadow Circle, River Ranch Road and the Wood River Trail bike path, at the southern end of Ketchum.

Petra Morrison, as personal representative of the estate of Oscar Smith Farnlun, deeded part of her father's land to the city in 2009 for a quarter-acre park.

The complaint claims that deeds show the Farnluns gave away their rights to the land, including an easement—or right-of-way—for a livestock driveway, to the state of Idaho.

"As a result of these conveyances, the Farnluns did not retain any right, title or interest in or to what is now Remainder Parcel-2," the complaint reads. It further states, "The city has no right, title, stake, lien or interest of any kind in Remainder Parcel-2."


Among questions for the court to decide is who retains ownership of the land, a concept called reversionary interest to the deed. Reversionary interest means that if or when the state gives up its easement, the land would revert back to whoever owns the land on which the right-of-way exists.

The Idaho Transportation Department, a state agency, is named in the suit because it has jurisdiction over the livestock driveway easement.

Ketchum City Attorney Stephanie Bonney said Monday that the city disagrees with the claims.

"Both the city and Ms. Morrison's attorney are confident that Ms. Morrison owned the property at the time she donated it to the city," Bonney said.

Debra Kronenberg, Morrison's attorney, echoed that position.

"He (the plaintiffs' attorney) is going to have to prove that Dreyer has an interest in those parcels," she said.

The plaintiffs are asking that the court declare the defendants have no right or title to the land.

"A judicial declaration is necessary at this time so that the plaintiff and the city may determine their rights to (that land)," the complaint states.

Plaintiffs also are seeking attorney fees and expenses.

Last month, the Ketchum City Council approved a contract for services to construct Farnlun Park on the land.

The lawsuit has put the project on hold, City Administrator Gary Marks said.

Plaintiffs' attorney James Speck did not return a call seeking comment by press time Thursday.

Rebecca Meany:

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