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Afton ordered to pay developer $60K

The city of Afton has had to pay $60,000 to GJ & M Development due to the city staff's failure to produce requested documents relating to the company's lawsuit against the city in a "timely fashion," city officials confirmed. City officials said they plan to appeal the order.

"The order was an issue with the timeliness of the response," said Afton attorney, George Hoff.

Washington County District Judge Mary Hannon ordered the city to make the payment to Gordy Jarvis, who co-owns the company and also the Afton House Inn, on Aug. 11. The city paid the $60,000 on Sept. 28.

Last year Jarvis and his attorneys requested documents relating to the lawsuit with the city, and the city never delivered the documents.

Jarvis' attorney, Christine Swanson from Kelly & Lemmons P.A., said the incident was not the first time Jarvis had requested documents and the city did not deliver.

"Judge Hannon stated that the defendants have failed many times to comply with discovery of documents," Swanson said.

Hannon's order stated "On multiple occasions, defendants have failed to fully comply with this Court's Orders related to discovery matters." As well as, "The City of Afton's failure to provide an accurate, workable privilege log to Plaintiff in a timely and appropriate fashion caused Plaintiff to incur fees and costs it would not otherwise have had to pay."

Afton city administrator Jim Norman said the city did not ignore Jarvis's request for the documents.

"We didn't have the staff to get it done," Norman said. "And before we could get our work done, they filed this claim."

Since the city was not able to locate the requested documents in the allowed time, Jarvis filed the claim, Norman said.

Hannon's order stated "The city's failure to comply was not substantially justified."

The city was also ordered by Judge Hannon to pay $5,362 to a computer specialist that was hired by Jarvis to uncover documents on the city's computers.

Afton mayor Pat Snyder said they intend to appeal the order.

In addition to the city paying $60,000 to GJ & M Development, the city was paid $10,000 by GJ & M roughly three weeks ago, according to Hoff, because of unsupported claims by Jarvis.

The initial lawsuit between Afton and GJ & M was filed in 2007 by Jarvis, who claims that a moratorium on downtown development, which stopped his proposed Afton Center project, was illegally executed. Jarvis also alleges his development application was wrongfully ruled incomplete and thrown out by the city.

The GJ& M lawsuit is set to go to trial on Nov. 30.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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