Couple Gene Sylvester Eagle-Oden and Anna Glushko are filing a $1.5- to $2-million lawsuit against a businessman and his company for allegedly operating next to their house, among other things, a junkyard that stores abandoned cars, heavy equipment, and other construction debris in the village residential area of Susupe Lake.
Eagle-Oden and Glushko, through counsel Stephen J. Nutting, are suing Steve Qian and his company, USA Fanter Corp. Ltd., for nuisance over the construction of canopy, oil storage, perimeter fence, entrance gate, storage container as fence, junkyard, manufacturing activities; assault; and injunctive relief.
Nutting asked the Superior Court to stop defendants from all commercial activity.
Saipan Tribune tried to contact Qian and USA Fanter yesterday for comment, but no one answered the phone.
Nutting said if an injunction is issued, the court should hold defendants liable to pay the couple at least $500,000 for the loss of enjoyment and use of their properties.
If an injunction is not issued, the lawyer said the court should hold defendants liable to pay plaintiffs $1 million for the loss of enjoyment and use of their properties.
Nutting also asked the court to hold defendants liable to pay $500,000 million for damages for the defendants’ continuing behavior in creating nuisance and for its unlawful and un-permitted use of the property for commercial purposes, and another $500,000 for pain and suffering.
Plaintiffs own and reside in a single-family residence located in the residential area of Susupe Lake. Eagle-Oden has had a residence at that location since 2007.
Nutting said in 2004, Qian obtained a leasehold interest to certain real property located near Susupe Lake, which is adjacent to plaintiffs’ properties.
Nutting said since acquiring the property, Qian through Fanter, has conducted commercial activities on the property.
The lawyer said that in 2009 the Saipan Zoning Law Board zoned the area in which Fanter operates as village residential.
Nutting said consequently in 2012, Fanter applied for, and received, a nonconforming structure and use permit (NSUP) for one lot, but the adjoining three lots were not included in such permit application and remain zoned village residential.
Nutting said a holder of an NSUP is not permitted to expand its nonconforming use or its nonconforming structures beyond what existed on Feb. 1, 2008.
In its NSUP application, Fanter listed its activities as “construction (general), mixes uses vehicle repair (auto shop).”
Nutting said Fanter also provided a citation for illegal dumping issues against the company in 2004, likely in order to prove that the company predated Feb. 1, 2008.
Since 2008, the lawyer noted, Fanter has expanded its operations both by building new structures and in the scope of its nonconforming use.
He said Fanter operates a junkyard on its property and causes the storage of abandoned cars, heavy equipment, and other construction debris to be stored in a residential area.
Nutting said a junkyard is a commercial activity and not permitted in an area that is zoned village residential.
In order to support its expansion, Fanter allegedly continues to bring in, heavy ponderous machinery, construction supplies, people, debris, shipping containers, industrial sized tires and parts, and other miscellaneous supplies to support its nonconforming activities.
Nutting said this seemingly never-ending supply train of goods arrives and departs at all hours of the day and night, on holidays and on weekends.
He said this convoy enters and exists within two meters of Eagle-Oden’s residence.
“The noise, diesel fumes, vibrations, and pounding incident to operating such heavy equipment at all hours of the day and night has caused significant mental anguish, diminished property value, property damage, and a deprivation of Eagle-Oden’s ability to quietly enjoy his property,” he said.
Nutting said welding machines operate at all hours and debris is brought in and disassembled with hammers and jackhammers.
Dust from the breaking down of rocks and the passing of heavy equipment on a gravel outside of Oden’s kitchen window, allegedly fills the air with smoke and dust which creates a coat of sediment on Eagle-Oden’s cars, laundry, and all outside surfaces.
Coral dust and diesel exhaust filters into the couple’s home, getting into clothing, rugs, food, and furniture.
Nutting said that, on Feb. 25, 2014, the Bureau of Environmental Quality issued a permit to Fanter for Land Clearing and Container and Canopy Installation.
Nutting said the site for the clearing and canopy is in the lot zoned as village residential and not subject to the NSUP issued to Fanter in 2012.
Nutting said the canopy and clearing are expansions of the company’s commercial business.
Nutting said that, on Nov. 9, 2015, Fanter was issued a permit to construct/install one 4,000 gallon, double wall diesel.
He said the site development plan places the oil storage tank on a lot located in the village residential zone.
Nutting said the storage of oil is an industrial use and not permitted in a village residential zone.
On March 7, 2005, Fanter was allegedly cited by the Division of Environmental Quality for egregious mishandling and disposal of oil.
Nutting said Fanter, in violation of its permit allowing the construction of an oil tank, constructed two oil storage tanks in order to support its expanding commercial operations.
He said Fanter uses the storage tanks to fuel its heavy equipment and support its commercial operations.
Nutting pointed out that diesel fuel is highly flammable and is currently being stored within 150 meters of several apartment buildings, 50 meters from adjoining single-family homes, and within 30 meters of the road.
On Sept. 10, 2014, Fanter was allegedly issued an “after-the-fact” permit for the construction of a perimeter fence and retaining wall.
A month earlier, on Aug. 8, 2014, Fanter was allegedly issued a stop work order for violating the Erosion Control Regulations and for digging up the wetlands and building a fence without a permit.
Nutting said the un-permitted excavation caused significant damage to the adjoining wetlands.
The un-permitted excavation and fence, he said, occurred on a lot located in the village residential zone area and not subject to an NSUP.
On Feb. 17, 2016, Fanter was allegedly issued a permit to clear a lot to relocate its entrance gate,
Nutting said the lot is zoned village residential, but is subject to NSUP.
The new gate, he noted, is larger than the original gate and is being relocated to allow wider and larger equipment to enter and exit the Fanter property.
The fence, he said, is constructed of pieces of sheet metal while the remaining portions of the fence are comprised of shipping containers.
The fence is located 5 meters from Eagle-Oden’s residence and is visible from almost all portions of the property.
Nutting described the fence as an eyesore and a nuisance.
On Jan. 14, 2005, Fanter was allegedly cited for having an “open dump” on its property, meaning that the company was keeping debris from its construction sites on its property instead of properly disposing of them at the Marpi landfill.
Nutting said Fanter was fined $10,000 but negotiated a penalty of $5,000.
Nutting said 11 years later, Fanter continues to dump debris from its construction sites on its property.
Nutting said Fanter is conducting manufacturing activities as heavy trucks with raw materials enter the property and exit carrying fully assembled beams, walls, and other structures.
On April 29, 2016, an employee of Fanter allegedly walked to the fence line of Eagle-Oden’s property, holding a Rottweiler dog on a leash and threatened Glushko and Winnie Santos with bodily harm if either of them ever walked onto Fanter’s property.
Glushko and Santos were in fear and apprehension for their immediate safety as the dog was pulling against the leash and lunging toward Glushko and Santos.
Nutting said the police were called and the employee was arrested.
He said Glushko and Santos suffered severe emotional trauma. Nutting said Glushko has had trouble sleeping and eating since the incident, while Santos was still shaking three hours after the incident.