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Castle project developer sues borough

Published March 20. 2012 05:01PM

A civil suit filed in the Carbon County Prothonotary's office against Jim Thorpe Borough criticizes actions of borough manager Wesley Johnson and seeks in excess of $17,000.

The suit was filed by David Peiffer and Amel International Trade, Ltd. of New Cumberland.

Peiffer had planned to construct a house along Hill Road in Jim Thorpe on a site where the ruins of a historic 19th century castle exists.

Peiffer states in the suit that he received approval from Sewage Enforcement Officer William Brior to construct an on-lot sewage system on July 19, 2011.

It's alleged that on Aug. 12, 2011, the plaintiffs received approval from the Carbon County Conservation District for their erosion and sedimentary plan, and, the suit says, "were told that they ... could begin installation of the on lot system."

On Aug. 29, 2011, the suit says, Johnson contacted Brior and objected to the issuance of the permit for the on-lot system. The suit claims that although discussion for the on-lot system had been occurring since February 2011 with various borough officials, including some members of borough council, it wasn't until Aug. 29 after the permit was issued for the on-lot system that the plaintiff was informed the on-lot system was not permitted.

"It is believed and therefore averred by the plaintiffs that Wesley Johnson, acting as the borough manager of Jim Thorpe, berated and intimidated William Brior on Aug. 29, 2011 to revoke the permit for the on-lot septic system under the false reason that the plaintiffs' representatives, Terrill McLean and Patrick Walsh had allegedly informed Mr. Brior, acting as SEO, that central sewage was not available to the real estate," the civil action states.

It continues, "This allegation is untrue and was fabricated to support the revocation of the on-lot septic permit."

Peiffer alleges that "Johnson's actions were intentional, outrageous, malicious, and designed to cause the plaintiffs loss of time and unnecessary expense."

According to the suit, Peiffer has incurred more than $17,155 in legal fees, management fees, administrative fees, permit fees, percolation tests, and other costs, and will continue to incur these costs as a direct and proximate cause of the borough's bad faith and intentional, wrongful, and damaging conduct."

It is the second civil suit filed by Peiffer and Amel International Trade against Jim Thorpe Borough regarding this matter.

Last Dec. 29, a civil action was filed in Carbon County Court against the borough and Jim Thorpe Borough Council. This action was filed after the council, a month earlier, had a public meeting on the sewage matter and sided with Johnson on the permit revocation.

The suit requests the courts to "reverse the decision of the borough council and order the issuance of the permit for the on-lot septic system, and grant any other relief necessary."

The council had rejected the on-lot system plans because it says central sewage is available throughout the borough, including on Hill Road.

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