Libby, Golf Course Try to Resolve Loan Dispute

By Beacon Staff

A long, drawn-out dispute between the city of Libby and the Cabinet View Golf Club has taken a hopeful turn after the two sides met last week.

The dispute revolves around two main points of contention: a $1.5 million federal loan managed by the city that the golf club received in 2004 to build a high-end housing development along its course and a $581,085 sewer system built by the city soon after.

Last year, the golf club was informed that it needed to pay back the loan in full, as well as cover the cost of the sewer system that connects the future development with the city system. But golf club chairman Dann Rohrer said that was not part of the original contract and he was never informed of the additional costs. Libby Mayor Doug Roll said the city council added it to the plat agreement in 2007 and even though the club wasn’t informed of the change (the Lincoln County Planning Department should have told the club but didn’t, according to Roll), the mayor doesn’t want to burden local taxpayers.

Because the 2007 plat agreement was never properly finalized the city tried to rewrite and reissue the agreement earlier this year. When the revised document was received by the golf club in March, it included the cost of the sewer system. The club appealed.

In hopes of avoiding a courtroom battle, the Cabinet View Golf Club invited members of the Libby City Council to the course on April 18. Rohrer said the meeting gave both sides the opportunity to hear each other out, in person.

“I think it was really good, especially for the city council,” he said. “We were able to listen to them and they were able to listen to us.”

Barb Desch was one of the council members in attendance and she said the meeting was productive, but no decisions about how to move forward could be made yet. She said the next step is to hold a meeting between the two parties that will be open to the public, which could take place in the next few weeks.

“After going to the meeting and talking to them, we’re pretty sure we’ll be able to solve this without getting into legal litigation,” she said. “They finally cleared up exactly where they stand.”

It’s still unclear how exactly the issue will be resolved and who will cover the cost of the sewer. Desch said both sides will need to review past documents and figure out a solution. Both sides remain intent on keeping the issue out of court.

“We’d like to stay out of the court system because it’s very expensive and nobody really wins,” Rohrer said. “I’m hopeful; we have to be.”

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