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City of Wells lawsuit gets put on hold

By Staff | Sep 20, 2020

The Getchell house on the west end of Ninth Street in Wells is pictured at the left.

The Wells City Council went into closed session at the end of their meeting last Monday night to discuss some pending litigation.

The litigation involves a lawsuit filed by the city against a resident who installed steel siding on their home which is not compliant with city ordinances.

Evan and Dara Getchell installed the sheet metal steel siding on their home approximately two years ago, according to Wells city administrator CJ Holl.

“They were told not to use that kind of siding but eventually put it on the house anyway,” Holl said. “The city has tried to work out a solution with several remedy options, including having them file for a variance, but they have not complied.”

When the council came out of closed session last Monday night and went into open public session, they had a video conference with the Getchell’s attorney, Karen Grossman.

Grossman argued that the Wells ordinance with the rules for siding is not a valid ordinance.

Grossman also asked about negotiating a settlement as part of this meeting, but both administrator Holl and city attorney David Frundt told Grossman that the council was simply there to listen to her plead her case.

However, the discussion did include having the Getchells file for a variance-after-the-fact.

“I want to know if you think in good faith that that could be part of a settlement, then I am ready to advise them to file for a variance,” Grossman said. “Otherwise there is no reason for them to do so.”

Frundt responded that any variance application still has to go through a public process.

“It would go before the Planning and Zoning Commission and not this body (the council),” Frundt said. “And there would be a public hearing.”

Frundt also said the City Council went forward with the lawsuit case because there had been no other action or response from the Getchells to communications from the city.

In the end the council voted to invite the Getchells to apply for a variance-after-the-fact. Mayor David Braun and council member Crystal Dulas voted no on the motion.

The council had previously given the Getchells formal notice to provide a legal answer to their lawsuit by Sept. 30, but on Monday night they voted to extend that deadline indefinitely, pending receiving the variance application.

During the public comment portion at the start of the regular Wells council meeting, several persons had stepped forward and spoke in support of the Getchells and in favor of leaving their house the way it is.