County settles Cameron lawsuit for $75,000

Haywood County is shelling out $75,000 for an out-of-court settlement that resolves an ongoing lawsuit by a landowner over the county’s erosion control laws.

The county’s liability insurance pool will cover the remaining $105,000 of the $180,000 settlement.

“It was going to be very expensive to go forward,” said Chip Killian, the county attorney. “It was better to put it behind us.”

The settlement ends the pending lawsuit Mr. and Mrs. Ron Cameron and Mr. and Mrs. Brian Cameron filed against the county to recover $250,000 in attorney’s fees plus damages, as well as the county’s plans to appeal the initial decision that favored Cameron.

The county spent $282,000 in legal fees of its own and $5,000 in insurance deductibles to fight the suit.

In an official statement, the Haywood County commissioners said they do not agree with the outcome of the case but have decided that it was in the best interests of Haywood County citizens and the Haywood County Sediment Control Board to resolve these matters “fully and finally.”

A copy of the settlement agreement will be available after all pending matters have been dismissed, and all closed session minutes related to the case will be available for public review once approved for release by the commissioners.

In the lawsuit, Ron Cameron claimed he was wrongfully being held to the higher erosion control standards than apply to developers rather than the lesser standard that applies to logging operations. The county claimed Cameron was not a logger but had intentions to develop the property one day, and thus should comply with the more stringent erosion control measures.

A nearly three-week trial in May came out in Cameron’s favor. The county had planned to appeal the ruling in Cameron’s favor.

Continuing with an appeal would have racked up more costs for both sides, giving both not only an incentive to settle but also bargaining power.

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