Testimony Continues, Neighbors And Construction Crew

Neighbors upset with Sapienza construction, doesn't match historic character

Day two of the McKennan House trial resumed, Tues. The court heard testimony from the construction company and from residents adjacent to the McDowell home who believe that construction of the Sapienza home has depreciated the value of the historic district.

The Sapienzas hired Brad and Dick Sorum of Sorum Construction to re-design architect drawings of their home. Renderings of their home had been completed by Robert Natz, a building developer in the Sioux Falls area.

A dispute regarding payment ensued between the Sapienzas and Natz in or around June 21, 2014. Natz testified that sometime around that date his work with Sapienzas terminated. That’s when the family sought help from Sorum Construction.

Brad Sorum was put in charge of the job and testified that he was unaware there were regulations set by the Board of Historic Preservation, and didn’t know that those rules differed than city zoning rules.

[See Day 1 Trial, article here]

He also claimed that he didn’t know that moving the Sapienza home closer to the McDowells by two-feet would violate fire code and therefore prevent the McDowells from using their fire place.

Under cross-examination, defense attorney, Dick Travis, tried proving that the size of the house didn’t change from what the board and the city originally approved.

Even though testimony from both the Sorums showed the Sapienzas wanted 89 different changes to the interior and exterior of the home. These changes deviated from Natz’s original compilation.

Deposition from owner, Dick Sorum, showed that he knew that the Sapienzas wanted the house taller.

“This is the look they [Sapienzas] brought from Philadelphia,” said Sorum.

Once modifications to Natz’s work were made, there was conflicting testimony as to whether or not someone went to city hall to have it approved. According Brad Sorum’s deposition, he attempted to get new approval, but the person who was supposed to give the approval wasn’t in the office.

However, in his testimony Tuesday, he claimed that he and his father did, in fact, get approval and therefore was able to obtain the building permit on Oct. 22, 2014.
The court later heard testimony from various neighbors in McKennan Park.

One neighbor, Lisa Nykamp, frequented the McDowell residence on more than one occasion with the hopes of one day purchasing the home if the McDowells intended to sell.  

At one point the McDowells had negotiated an offer with Nykamp of $975,000. Nykamp took one final tour of the house and was disappointed to see that construction of the Sapienza home blocked sunlight from every window on the south end of the home.

“There was no natural light coming the south side of the home,” testified Nykamp, “I reached my hand out the window and I could touch the scaffolding.”

McDowell’s attorney asked if Nykamp would reconsider living in the home she replied, “We can’t live here.”

Testimony is expected to continue on Wed.