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Ovilla’s water woes from past resurface

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The Ellis County Press

OVILLA - Ovilla's water woes from the past have recently resurfaced with a request from a citizen to repay the money he paid the city in the 1980's to construct water mains to property he once owned in Ovilla.

Fred Brodsky, of Dallas, appeared at the Ovilla City Council meeting on Oct. 28 to request the repayment of $160,000 he had paid the city for the construction of water mains to property he once owned in Ovilla.

Brodsky owned the Hosford Tract, 142 acres bounded by Hosford Road and Ovilla Road, at the corner of Westmoreland Rd..

Brodsky, who sells land for a living, bought the acreage from the Hosford family in the early ‘80's.

Later, Brodsky was approached by former Ovilla Public Works Director Paul Stevens, who asked him to pay the city for the construction of water mains to his property.

Brodsky said some other landowners were also asked to pay, though Brodsky does not know who they were.

'The city was trying to raise $600,000 to $700,000 for water system mains. That's a lot of money.

'It was my understanding that if the landowners didn't contribute, the city could not have constructed the system,' Brodsky said.

Brodsky said he paid the city for the water main construction because he was hoping to develop the property with residences.

He entered into an agreement with the city which his own attorney wrote, stating when Brodsky developed the property, the city would pay back the $160,000.

He said the city would have benefited financially from the development of the land through the payment of water tap fees and property taxes.

The situation would have worked out well for both parties, but the real estate market in the late ‘80's became significantly worse.

'When the real estate market began ‘going south', and I couldn't make the payment schedule, I worked out a payment agreement with the city. I signed notes with interest. I completed my full share of payments in '87 or '88,' Brodsky explained.

'After that, the debt on the property was more than what I could sell the property for, there was no equity in it, so I gave it back to the Hosford family,' Brodsky said.

'I had to struggle to live up to my obligations, despite being in financial straits, because I didn't want the community to suffer,' Brodsky said.

Brodsky did not develop the property, though he said he did recently broker the sale of ten acres of the Hosford Tract to a new church which has been built in Ovilla.

Since he did not develop the land, no longer owns the land, and because the agreement was made years ago, the City of Ovilla has not recognized Brodsky's right to repayment, according to City Administrator Scott Campbell.

The agreement was dated 1991, according to Campbell. 'It was poorly written by his attorney, and it did not achieve what Mr. Brodsky was trying to do,' Campbell said.

'We've sent it to our attorney for his opinion, more than once, actually,' he said.

'Our attorney said that the agreement is not legal as written because the statue of limitations has passed. 'Also, the whole contract was contingent upon him developing the land. He did not meet the terms of the contract,' Campbell said.

Brodsky and the city agree the contract was poorly written and did not address the possibility of change of ownership or non-development.

They also agree the water line is there, and the land is available for development once the new development moratorium is lifted by the city.

Ovilla has had a moratorium on new development in the city, because of a limited water supply since 2000.

Brodsky is asking the city to consider an agreement to repay him for the water line when development on the land does occur.

'It is unfair, in my opinion, to pay $160,000 with interest on a water main, and not be repaid. I think it is fair and reasonable to begin to recover some of my cost,' Brodsky said.

'The city has put me off. I've shown them all the records and the checks that were written. They know I have paid all the money,' Brodsky said.

The discussions between Brodsky and the city have been respectful, Brodsky said.

'There has never been any threats to sue. There has never been any acrimonious discussion at all,' he said.

Campbell said that this problem has lingered over the years, 'He came and talked to us two years ago about it; he has talked to the previous city administrator, and to the mayor. He asked to come and talk to the city council about it, and we said ‘Sure.''

Campbell said there was suggestion that a new developer on the land could make an agreement to pay Brodsky the water tap fee for use of the water line.

'But developers don't have to make that agreement, there's no way the city can legally make them do that,' Campbell explained, 'besides, there's some legal problems with that too.'

The other landowners involved in the water main deal still own their property, and may develop it in the future, so no similar situations have occurred, Campbell noted.

'In principle, I can understand his view,' Campbell said.

'His mistake was to enter into a poorly written agreement that didn't achieve what he wanted. I said at the council meeting that I would send it to the attorney for consideration again,' he said.

'We're open to something to rectify the situation. It's incumbent upon him to come up with some legal solution. My door is open to Mr. Brodsky,' Campbell said.

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