Government

Ferentz dispute with neighbors headed to trial

Civil trial scheduled for two to three days in Johnson County

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 on Nov. 25, 2016, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. (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 on Nov. 25, 2016, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — University of Iowa Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz and his wife are planning for a three-day civil trial starting Feb. 12 in a long-running dispute with their neighbors.

During a pretrial conference Friday, 6th Judicial District Court Judge Andy Chappell asked attorneys for the Ferentzes and their neighbors if they’ve been able to resolve their differences to avoid a trial.

“We are not resolved and we are not going to be resolved,” said Jeff Stone, a Cedar Rapids attorney representing the Ferentzes.

The Saddle Club Road Homeowners’ Association sued Kirk and Mary Ferentz on March 2, 2016, alleging the couple broke a 2001 contract and are responsible for their share of road repairs, or $9,600. The neighbors also assert the couple’s landscaping violated a neighborhood easement.

Their 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. He is the state’s highest-paid public employee, earning more than $5 million in total compensation for fiscal 2018, state records show.

Shortly after the Ferentzes built their house on the single-lane gravel road, another couple, the Buattis, proposed subdividing their own property for development including surfacing the road. The Ferentzes opposed the plan for 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.

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.

Stone said at least one of his clients will attend the trial, expected to last two to three days.

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Adam Tarr and Siobhan Briley, Coralville attorneys representing the neighbors, also will have at least one client present at trial, they said.

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

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