LAKE IROQUOIS — A homeowners' association in southwestern Iroquois County is being sued for more than $1 million for allegedly causing a stream to invade a couple's property and erode their soil.
Michael and Bonnie Specchio filed suit against the Lake Iroquois Association on June 10, claiming the association should have known that depositing various materials, including concrete, asphalt and dirt, on the bank of the stream would change its course "in a way that was damaging" to their property.
The Specchios, who own five parcels within the association's jurisdiction, claimed that part of their property has been eroded and submerged as a result of the association's actions, which has caused it to "endure a large diminution in its value."
They added that continuing erosion threatens to drain their lake and "render the parcels worthless."
The Specchios noted that they cannot fix the damage without violating the association's "ownership rights."
The lawsuit says the association owns the land on which the deposited material is located and the stream bed and shore lie. The association, the suit says, should subsequently be required to fix it.
The suit claims the association should also be required to restore the Specchio's land to its former condition or instead pay "actual and punitive damages."
The lawsuit noted that the Specchio's land is subject to the association's covenants, including a covenant to "defend and protect" their property from erosion.
The one-count lawsuit, filed in Iroquois County Circuit Court by Urbana attorney Robert Auler, seeks actual damages in excess of $1 million and punitive damages "in a like amount."
"The Lake Iroquois Association is working with our attorneys, our insurance carrier and our engineering firm to research and respond to this suit," said Darrell Aders, president of the Lake Iroquois Board of Directors.
Thad Eshleman, a resource conservationist for the Iroquois County Soil & Water Conservation District, said he recalls visiting a property in Lake Iroquois to inspect soil erosion a few years ago but said nothing ever came of it.
The parcels that are named in the Specchio's lawsuit have rural Loda addresses of 373 N. 200 East Road, 99 E. 400 North Road and 119 E. 400 North Road. Two of the properties are farmland.
Their combined assessed value was $32,102 in 2012, up from $30,732 in 2011, according to the Iroquois County assessor's office.