Apartment Developer’s Utility Lawsuit Against The Town Of Century Has Been Dismissed

February 13, 2020

An apartment developer’s utility deposit lawsuit against the Town of Century has been dismissed after the court ruled the town was immune from the suit.

The court adopted both arguments that the town raised in defense that sovereign immunity and fraud statutes each preclude the developer’s claims. The developer has filed an appeal with the Florida First District Court of Appeal.

The Paces Foundation and Century Park Apartments contended they owed $63,750 for water and wastewater connection fees, but instead they were forced to pay over $100,000 more.

Paces contended that they elected to make their $10 million investment in Century in late 2015, at which time a 2015 water rate ordinance was in effect. Those rates were in effect until increased in a series of acts by the town council, increasing costs over $100,000 for the developer, according to the motion.

Paces argued it was not “just and equitable” to increase the rates after the property was developed.

The Dispute

In February 2018, Paces submitted a $165,180 check to the town for water and wastewater tap fees along with a protest letter from attorney William J. Dunaway of the Clark Partington law firm in Pensacola. The letter informed the town that the payment was made in full, but the amount remained in dispute.

Paces asked for a declaration that they owed the town $63,750 for full payment and an additional $101,430 deposit charged was invalid.

The lower fee of $63,750, according to Paces, was decided upon during a 2015 meeting with then-Mayor Freddie McCall and Town Planner Debbie Nickles. The only written agreement to come out of that meeting was a handwritten page showing calculations that Paces said were based upon the 2015 rates as published online in the town’s municipal code. The handwritten document also included a proposed fee for natural gas; however, the developer later opted to go all-electric.

In 2017, the town council passed two resolutions increasing the water and sewer tap fees and charged Paces based upon 50 connections. The apartment complex, according to the lawsuit, has only one master meter that serves all 50 units.

Paces contended they relied upon the lower payment quote in determining their financial options with the apartment development. They contended they were forced to submit the higher fee in order to obtain utility services and obtain a certificate of occupancy for the apartments.

McCall and Nickels did not deny the meeting, nor did they deny the agreement or the approximate $63,000 tap fee. “The town made a commitment to them. To me, they should do the right thing and honor that commitment,” Nickels said during a March 2018 town council meeting also attended by McCall.

Pictured top: Century Park Apartments. Pictured top inset: A check submitted under protest to the town by the Paces Foundation. Pictured bottom inset: The handwritten document Paces contends demonstrated a lower water and sewer tap fee as authorized by town code. Pictured below: Century’s justification for the $165,180 tap fee charged to the developer. NorthEscambia.com photo and images, click to enlarge.


12 Responses to “Apartment Developer’s Utility Lawsuit Against The Town Of Century Has Been Dismissed”

  1. tax payer on February 14th, 2020 4:33 pm

    Alicia ????? YOU REALIY The council was looking out for YOU/??????????


  2. mat on February 14th, 2020 7:25 am

    Mr Reality,
    Most apartment buildings have only one tap. And also one community
    trash bin. The fees for water, sewer and trash pick up are included in their rent.

  3. Citizen on February 14th, 2020 12:28 am

    Consider it an impact fee..Go Century.

  4. Alicia on February 13th, 2020 10:06 pm

    Well I am one person who believes that the council made the right decision. It is very expensive to produce water and maintain infrastructure. The council was simply looking out for the best interests of the citizens who would have been stuck paying the costs associated with this complex. I am thankful the council was looking out for me.

  5. MR REALITY on February 13th, 2020 8:02 pm

    3 years later they expected the rate to be the same…REALLY mr. Developer…..>REALLY????!!!!

  6. MR REALITY on February 13th, 2020 8:01 pm

    Who does a 10 million dollar deal with part of it being informal and written on a dinner napkin….This note could of been made up after the fact anyways. Who does business with the govt on a handsshake….Moron got what he deserves and he will get it all back anyways…

    To the person who thinks they could have one tap, HOW DO YOU THEN BILL SOMEONE FOR THEIR USEAGE?

  7. Oversight on February 13th, 2020 7:07 pm

    The Century Circus continues as it extorts, as Niknac said, businesses that will bring $$$ to the town. Century is so dollar deprived and hungry for revenue, it will do anything for it including stealing it from anyone. The mayor and council are so low that they’ll even milk a bull in their quest for money. WARNING: Never locate a business in the town.

  8. Sunrise Photo on February 13th, 2020 9:02 am

    Maybe the developer can work out a plan with the town of Century to pay $300 a month for the next 750 years …

  9. Niknak on February 13th, 2020 8:45 am

    The court actually sanctioned extortion, releiving the town of its moral obligation to do the right thing. I have met no one who thinks what the council did was honest. But know this, one day each and every one of us will be judged, and much of that judgement will be based upon how we treated our fellow man. Mayor Hawkins and the council will give account for their actions as all of us.

  10. mat on February 13th, 2020 7:21 am

    This developer invests 10 million dollars in the Town of Century. That’s saying a lot already. He is told the cost of a tap fee. The Town changes leadership and jacks up the fee.

    We each have one tap at each of our homes. We have maybe two or three garden hoses attached to that one tap. Maybe we should be charged for each garden hose attached to that one tap.

    The water dept, will only have to read and bill for one water meter
    instead of 50. That would save both time and money.

  11. Sedition on February 13th, 2020 7:02 am

    How nice it musts be to be government who can claim immunity from laws that you and I would be hit between the eyes with the book of “Laws for Thee, But Not For Me.”
    Feels a bit like we’re still in the situation of being under the rule of the King of England.
    We all saw how that worked out for the King…

  12. Amazed on February 13th, 2020 4:31 am

    I hope Century never needs any more apartments, no developer will ever sink in of their money into a town that will not honour their word

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