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Swain settles lawsuit over sewer line cost overruns

Swain County commissioners have settled a ten-month long lawsuit with Buckeye Construction for $30,000, far less than the $127,000 originally demanded.

“I think the county came out a winner on this, even though it cost us,” said Commissioner Glenn Jones.

McGill Associates, an Asheville-based engineering firm that designed the construction project in question, will pick up $15,000 of the cost, while the county will cover the remaining $15,000.

The lawsuit centered around a sewer project in the Franklin Grove community. When Buckeye encountered more water underground than expected, the company decided to widen the ditches and add more stone and gravel to better support the pipes.

While the change added significant cost to the project, Buckeye did not first get a change order to formalize the cost overruns. Buckeye sued the county in February, after Swain refused to pay the additional costs.

Swain County filed a motion to dismiss the case based on jurisdiction but that motion was dismissed. The county immediately appealed the decision in June. Recently, Swain recently received a settlement offer from Buckeye. During a closed session at a county meeting Monday, Swain commissioners agreed to settle the case.

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Buckeye began work on the Franklin Grove sewer project in August 2007. Plans for the project called for a minimum amount of stone to be used around the pipes.

“That part was done to specification,” said Danny Bridges, principal for McGill’s Asheville office.

But McGill never came to an agreement with Buckeye over the actual quantity of stone that was used in the project, according to Bridges. Bridges said the contractor had multiple options for dealing with the situation and chose to put stone in the trench prior to giving a price.

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