Hampton Hall lot owners settle 3-year dispute

Lot owners in Bluffton's Hampton Hall who say roads and a stormwater lagoon built by the developer turned their property into "deep craters" susceptible to flooding settled their case Monday without a trial.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, according to lawyers and people involved. An amended complaint filed last year sought unspecified damages.

The case appeared ready to go to trial Monday in the Beaufort County Courthouse before the settlement was reached.

The lot owners -- Charles Bartucz, Gerard Iacavone and Ryan and Jessica Noble -- claimed their land appeared to be on high ground before they bought it in 2006, but that changed after a lagoon and roads were built after the purchase, according to the complaint.

In October 2006, three parties -- Hampton Hall's developers, Malphrus Construction Co., and engineering firm Thomas & Hutton -- built roads and a lagoon that were three to four feet above the lots, the suit said.

When Gerard Iacavone explicitly asked an agent for Hampton Hall Realty about road height, the agent said the road would not be higher than Iacavone's lot, the suit said. The agent also assured Bartucz that vegetation and trees would provide privacy.

The lots flooded for months beginning in December 2006 and again in June 2007, according to the suit.

Bartucz and Iacavone paid about $200,000 each for their property. They had said in 2007 it would take more than $30,000 in fill dirt -- more than 200 truckloads -- to prepare the lots for building a home. They also argued that filling the lots would mean many trees would be lost, along with vegetation that had made the lots desirable.