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Paving the Way for Compromise

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A court-suggested compromise to settle a conflict between Shelter Island, New York homeowners and a Mattituck-based landscape contractor is virtually one phone call away. 

At issue is whether homeowners Melissa Ko and S. Daniel Hahn have to pay for a granite and “Belgian block” driveway installed at their house, or whether the contractor, Matthew Daly of MGD Horticulture, acted without authority and the proper credentials to perform the job.

Supreme Court Justice Emily Pines ruled that the couple had to pay for the landscaping services, but stated that because Daly wasn’t a licensed contractor for home improvements, the couple couldn’t be held responsible for the installation of the driveway. Daly’s attorney requested a re-argument on the judge’s ruling, which was refused last week, although the judge offered her own compromise.

MGD was paid $225,818 for the first phase of landscaping, but a subsequent $405,595 bill that includes the pavers on the driveway and other landscaping has not been paid. Pines ordered the couple to pay $276,000 of the $405,595 for the additional landscape work.

Daly’s attorney, Ed Boyle, said another $47,000 is due in interest payments dating back to when the work was finished in August 2011. Both attorneys said they are prohibited from disclosing the judge’s compromise offer. Boyle called it “creative,” saying she “tried to be fair to both sides.”

 The compromise solution is very close to what his clients will accept, but the homeowner’s lawyer has submitted a counterproposal to the judge’s solution, what Boyle calls a “rejection.” Though there are aspects of the compromise that aren’t ideal to either side, both agreed the judge’s solution was “a reasonable proposal.”

Also at issue was the couple’s statement that Daly wasn’t licensed for home improvement construction. The landscaper countered that he didn’t need licensing, since the driveway does not represent home improvement, but was a part of the original project in developing the site.

 
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