More than 100 people and a Swanton area church are behind a civil lawsuit filed against the Swancreek Township Water District to stop a long-proposed water expansion project.
Their objections include claims the expansion project violates state law, that they were not formally notified of the purpose of public meetings, and that the project unnecessarily involves some of Swancreek Township’s land parcels.
Filed Nov. 6, the civil suit asks for injunctive relief against the water district’s plan. The district’s board of trustees responded to the complaint Dec. 3 through its attorney, Byron Choka. A pre-trial hearing is scheduled Dec. 29 at 11 a.m. in Fulton County Common Pleas Court.
Complaintants in the civil suit include residents of Swanton, Delta, Perrysburg, Richmond Hill, Ga., and Gainesville, Ga., and Brailey Union Church, located at 5571 County Road 3.
The district’s board of trustees passed a resolution Aug. 13 to approve the project.
Development of the estimated $2.38 million water line expansion began three years ago, but no starting or completion dates have been scheduled. The expansion would affect land parcels on County Roads 3 and EF, and in the Peaceful Valley section of Swancreek Township, and would ultimately unite the roads and travel down County Road 3.
According to the civil complaint:
• The proposed project does not comply with requirements of Ohio Revised Code Section 6119.58, which states that a tax assessment levied on property for a water resource project “may not exceed the amount determined by the board of trustees to be necessary for such purpose…,” and is therefore unenforceable.
• A proposal by Swancreek Township to utilize Toledo/Lucas County water for the project cannot be authorized per a 1997 court ruling involving the water district.
• The public allegedly was not informed, either by notice or at the public hearings, that the purpose of the gatherings was to hear citizens’ objections.
• The proposed project “is not conducive to public health, safety, convenience or welfare.”
• It includes land parcels not necessary to manage the district’s water service or benefitting from the project.
The complaint also notes that the township’s Water Board promises the project’s “looping” design would prove cost- effective by eliminating the need to clean or flush four dead-end pipes located in the present water system. According to the complaint, however, the project will add four dead-end locations that will require flushing.
It also states that, according to those who responded to a survey the Water District’s board of trustees sent to owners of 216 land parcels the project would affect, 123 opposed it and 48 supported it.
The complaint suggests the project may not be necessary within Peaceful Valley due to planned improvements in home septic systems. Those will be paid for with $100,000 awarded to Fulton County in September through the Ohio Department of Health’s Home Sewage Treatment System Repair/Replacement Project.
Choka; Daniel McQuade, the complaintants’ attorney; and Walt Lange, Water District secretary, all declined to comment, citing pending litigation.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.