Terra Nativa time lapse
The owners of five Boise Foothills homes have reached agreements with dozens of defendants they named in a lawsuit almost two years ago after the ground under their houses began shifting downhill, slowly ripping the houses apart.
Those defendants include the city of Boise, developers of the property and engineers who worked on the project. The settlements were confidential. Eric Rossman, one of the homeowners, declined to say Friday how much money they yielded. He said the plaintiffs were happy with the outcome and believed justice had been served.
But Boise is subject to Idaho's open records law. After a public records request, the city released documents to the Idaho Statesman on Friday detailing the terms of its settlement. They said Boise paid the homeowners $257,500.
City spokesman Mike Journee said Boise's decision to settle the suit was not an admission of guilt or negligence. Instead, it was meant to protect taxpayers from a long and costly legal battle, he said.
In early 2016, cracks started appearing in the five homes, located on Alto Via Court north of the Table Rock recreation area. Since then, the damage has worsened, with windows breaking, walls sagging and sidewalks coming apart.
By June 2016, a fault line was plain to see in the ground, crossing Alto Via and running directly under the home that took the most damage early on. By the end of summer, all of the homeowners had moved out.
Boise's settlement also requires the city to demolish the remaining three homes. That was part of what Boise hoped to achieve, Journee said, because it views the structures as threats to public safety. The demolition should take place in early May, he said.
Rossman wouldn't say whether the settlements with Boise and the other defendants would cover all of the homeowners' losses. He said he and his family are preparing to move into a new home near the Crane Creek Golf Course.
"It was a very horrible experience, but we're happy to have it behind us," Rossman said.