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South Bend Settles Environmental Claims

Fri, 05/31/2013 - 2:41pm
The Associated Press

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — A more than decade-long legal battle over environmental claims involving South Bend's former Studebaker Corp. auto plant and another shuttered manufacturer has been settled under an agreement calling for an insurer to pay the city several million dollars.

The city's Redevelopment Commission on Thursday approved the final settlement agreement with Continental Casualty Company and The Continental Insurance Company related to the former Studebaker and Oliver Plow Works properties.

The South Bend Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/15maU4x ) the terms of the agreement, including compensation, are confidential. But Senior Redevelopment Specialist Ann Kolata said the settlement totals "several million dollars."

Kolata and South Bend's environmental attorneys have been working since 1999 to resolve the numerous environmental claims related to the two properties. City attorneys intend to issue a final report July 25 detailing all of the settlements.

Kolata said the money recovered over the years has gone toward preparing the two sites, which encompass more than 100 acres, for redevelopment and for expenses related to the ongoing effort to settle the numerous environmental claims.

She said more work, including environmental work, remains to be done and the city's attorneys still need to be paid.

Studebaker closed its South Bend operations in 1963. Most of the Studebaker complex's former buildings have been demolished.

Between seven and nine settlements have been reached with various parties over the years, Kolata said. That includes a settlement with Cooper Industries LLC, the successor to the Studebaker Corp., that was reached in March.

Kolata said Continental already has paid the city some money as part of the agreement approved Thursday. She expects the rest to arrive in the coming weeks.

"It's not done until the money is in the bank," Kolata said.

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