Dentons Reject Chino Hills’ Encroachment Settlement Overture

(June 21) Lawyers for Mike and Kim Denton have rejected a plea by Chino Hills City Attorney Mark Hensley that they agree to a temporary suspension of the lawsuit the couple has brought against the city over property encroachment issues.
The Dentons sued the city in 2011 after the city’s code enforcement division informed them in 2010 that the furthest extension of their backyard was encroaching on city-owned open space and that they had to remove their pool and spa along with landscaping that was already extant when they purchased the home in 1999 from Gloria Vitagliano.
The Dentons, who live on Hunters Gate Circle, offered the city $10,000 for the property, but the city rejected that offer, instead saying it would provide them with a 15-year easement for the continued use of the property.  The Dentons then retained the firm of Gresham, Savage, Nolan and Tilden to sue the city.
The Dentons claim the city allowed the Vitagliano/Denton encroachment, which was conspicuous and open, to stand, and did nothing to interfere with Ms. Vitagliano’s or their occupation of the approximately 1,574 square feet of land for more than 15 years. Nor did the city act in a timely manner to prevent them from removing a wrought-iron fence and replacing it with a glass wall and block fence, the Dentons assert.
Within the last month, however, city officials have proposed a “global settlement” with regard to a multiplicity of encroachment issues impacting properties in Chino Hills, where an estimated 270 homeowners have made improvements in what was formerly deemed city-owned open space bordering those parcels. Under the terms of those yet-to-be-worked-out solutions, landowners would be given the opportunity to buy the property they have intruded onto.
The city made a motion for summary judgment in the Denton case and other motions to reduce the scope of the litigation but was turned back by judicial rulings. Earlier this month, Hensley requested that the Dentons put the lawsuit on hold while a formalized proposal for the purchases of encroached-upon properties is drawn up. The firm representing the Dentons, Gresham, Savage, Nolan and Tilden, spurned that offer, maintaining no suspension of the case, which is now scheduled to go to trial in September, will be made without the presentation of a formal settlement offer before the court.

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