Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Group Sues School Board Again

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Group Sues School Board Again

Article excerpt

The citizens group that sued the Clay County School Board last year over a controversial elementary school site that was later abandoned has taken the board to court again.

The contention this time around -- failure to bushhog.

In a motion filed in Circuit Court Friday, the North Green Cove Springs Civic Association said the board failed to meet the requirements of the lawsuit's February settlement.

The settlement, which was approved by Judge Frederic Buttner, called for the board to sell half the school site property back to its original owner, Jack Stoudenmire, for the original purchase price of $186,689. The board was also required to restore the property to its condition at the time it was purchased a year ago.

That meant removing monitoring wells and trees that had been cut down by district-hired surveyors, as well as "bushhogging as necessary," or clearing thick underbrush that had grown up in the meantime, the settlement said.

The court-ordered requirements had to be met within 90 days.

By the deadline Wednesday, association attorney Stewart Harris delivered Stoudenmire's check to district officials and exchanged it for a deed to the property. But the wells and cut trees remained and the site had not been cleared of thick underbrush, said Stoudenmire.

That's why Harris, two days later, filed a motion asking Buttner to hold the board in contempt, enforce the settlement, award an unspecified amount of compensatory damage and order the board to pay attorneys fees.

"The School Board violated the order willfully," the motion said.

There was no immediate word on when Buttner might rule on the motion.

Stoudenmire said he just wants the land back to the well-maintained state he had it in as he prepared to build a house there last summer.

"We fought for over a year to get this back. We're not going to give up on it now," he said. "This was going to be kind of our own little sanctuary, which it will be again if they [the board] just do what they're supposed to . . . We were excited about it. They just ruined it."

Harris agreed.

"All the School Board has done is mess it up and allow the woods and underbrush to grow back," he said. …

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