Kissel to begin cleanup, still negotiating plea bargain

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Agreement on a widely anticipated plea bargain could not be reached Friday in the criminal case against the Kissel Co. resulting from alleged sewage overflows on its Paradise Cove property. Residents of the mobilehome park, however, should expect some capital improvements to the septic system within the next few weeks.

Deputy District Attorney Robert Miller told the court that defense attorney Richard Regnier “assured me his client will proceed with part of the remediation project” before the next hearing, set for Sept. 11.

The parties still disagree about exactly the types of capital improvements to be made. “Capital improvements will fall into the general category of expansion of system capacity. I don’t want to be more specific because it’s still under negotiations,” Miller said.

Miller was “frustrated, as I’m sure everybody will be when they hear about the delay,” but said he’s still “optimistic that [both sides] are moving in the same direction. The defense has expressed a willingness to do the work.”

Nobody from the Kissel Co. would discuss the latest developments. Steven Dahlberg, chief financial officer for Kissel, explained, “It just wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment at this point.”

Kissel is charged with 25 counts of misdemeanor violations of environmental codes. A maximum fine of $20,000 could be imposed for each of the three violations of the water code. The remaining 22 counts carry a maximum fine of $1,000 each.

For cove residents, a final resolution of the criminal case could not come fast enough. “I’m very disappointed that they didn’t plea,” said Roger Goldingay, president of the Paradise Cove Homeowners Association. “It’s very typical of Kissel to stonewall and drag their feet.”

Goldingay mentioned he is one of about 90 residents who have recently filed a civil law suit against Kissel for failure to properly maintain the park. “It’s just one thing after another with the Kissel Co. A way of life for them and a life of strife for us.”