Government

Kirk Ferentz takes the field against his neighbors

Iowa coach and wife in dispute over homeowners' association

Iowa Hawkeyes head football coach Kirk Ferentz and his wife, Mary, greet their son, offensive lineman Steve Ferentz, on Nov. 25, 2016, during Senior Day festivities at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. The Ferentzes are embroiled in a longstanding dispute with their neighbors, John and Anne Marie Buatti, over a road leading to their properties near Coralville Lake. They are scheduled to be back in court in February to settle remaining details. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Iowa Hawkeyes head football coach Kirk Ferentz and his wife, Mary, greet their son, offensive lineman Steve Ferentz, on Nov. 25, 2016, during Senior Day festivities at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. The Ferentzes are embroiled in a longstanding dispute with their neighbors, John and Anne Marie Buatti, over a road leading to their properties near Coralville Lake. They are scheduled to be back in court in February to settle remaining details. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — For the second time in less than a year, Kirk Ferentz is going to court.

Last summer, he testified in Jane Meyer’s lawsuit against the University of Iowa for gender and sexual discrimination.

On Feb. 6, he’s scheduled to face off with his neighbors, in the Saddle Club Road Homeowners’ Association, in a dispute over whether Ferentz and his wife, Mary, breached a 2001 agreement with neighbors, and whether the Ferentzes were responsible for $9,400 in road repairs required after landscaping at their home.

The Ferentzes bought land on Saddle Club Road early in his tenure as Iowa football’s head coach.

The property, near Coralville Lake, is also near another family that live on the single-lane gravel road — John and Ann Marie Buatti. At the time, the Buattis proposed subdividing the property — 20 acres in total — for development, including resurfacing the road from gravel and possibly extending it.

According to court records, that was where the long-running dispute began.

John Buatti testified in a deposition that Mary Ferentz objected to the Buattis’ proposal out of privacy reasons and, in the course of that discussion, Buatti said, “She looked at me and said, ‘No, you don’t understand who I am.’ ”

In order to settle that disagreement, the Ferentzes and Buattis signed a 2001 agreement.

According to a lawsuit filed in Johnson County, in exchange for concessions by the Buattis regarding subdivision, the Ferentzes agreed to form and become members of a homeowners association in order to “establish more detailed procedures” for shared payment of the road’s maintenance.

The Saddle Club Road Homeowners’ Association wasn’t formed until 2015, and the Ferentzes dispute they ever agreed to join the association, and they refused to join the group.

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The homeowners’ association sued, saying the Ferentzes violated the association’s bylaws and breached the 2001 agreement.

The Ferentzes countersued, seeking a court order saying they are not, and are not required to become, members of the association.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Kevin McKeever ruled the Ferentzes didn’t have to join the homeowners’ association that was formed in 2015 because it was structured differently than what had been discussed in 2001, which freed them from paying the $9,400 road bill.

The neighbors appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court, where Justice David Wiggins in December declined to grant their interlocutory appeal without ruling on its merits.

The Feb. 6 hearing in Johnson County District Court is on the lawsuit’s remaining points, which include claims of landscaping encroachments beyond the Ferentzes’ property — trees that “extend more into the road now, as opposed to when they were first planted,” that interfere with the utility easement and where parts “have fallen and blocked access to the Buattis’ home.”

This story was first reported by the Associated Press.

l Comments: (319) 368-8884; jeremiah.davis@thegazette.com

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