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Ferentzes settle lawsuit before trial

'All the neighbors are glad to get everything resolved'

Kirk Ferentz poses for a photo with his son, Hawkeyes offensive lineman Steve Ferentz, and wife Mary Ferentz at an Iowa Hawkeyes football game with Nebraska at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Kirk Ferentz poses for a photo with his son, Hawkeyes offensive lineman Steve Ferentz, and wife Mary Ferentz at an Iowa Hawkeyes football game with Nebraska at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — University of Iowa Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz and his wife have settled a lawsuit brought by neighbors just before the case was scheduled to go to trial Tuesday, court records show.

The Saddle Club Road Homeowners’ Association and Kirk and Mary Ferentz have “reached a resolution in this case” and have until March 8 to file paperwork dismissing the lawsuit, according to Iowa Courts Online.

“All the neighbors are glad to get everything resolved without going to trial,” said Mark Roberts, a Cedar Rapids attorney representing the Ferentzes.

The Homeowners’ Association sued Kirk and Mary Ferentz March 2, 2016, alleging the couple broke a 2001 contract and is responsible for their share of road repairs, or $9,600. The neighbors also claim the Ferentzes’ landscaping violated a neighborhood easement.

The Ferentzes both planned to testify at the non-jury trial, scheduled to last three days in Johnson County. Other witnesses included neighbors John and Ann Marie Buatti, Gary and Becky Watts, Elayne Sexsmith and Fred Page.

The Ferentzes’s house, with a net assessed value of about $1 million, was built in 1999, one year after Kirk Ferentz was hired as head UI football coach. Kirk Ferentz is the state’s highest-paid employee, getting more than $5 million in total compensation for fiscal 2017, states records show.

Shortly after the Ferentzes built their house on the single-lane gravel road, the Buattis proposed subdividing their property for development. The Ferentzes opposed that plan because of privacy concerns, John Buatti testified in a deposition. The couples signed an agreement in 2001 saying the Buattis would not sell further parcels and the neighbors, including the Ferentzes, agreed to form a homeowners association, in part to plan for road maintenance.

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The Homeowners’ Association was formed in 2015 and members later voted to pay $36,000 to repair Saddle Club Road. The Ferentzes dispute they ever agreed to be part of the association formed in 2015 and have not paid for their portion of the road repairs, the lawsuit states.

l Comments: (319) 339-3157; erin.jordan@thegazette.com

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