City sues property owners

Amos Library, Land Bank, churches, others included in lawsuit

By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — The city of Sidney has filed a lawsuit against 153 property owners for failing to have sanitary sewer inspections completed on their properties. Included in the lawsuit are the Shelby County commissioners, Amos Memorial Public Library, Shelby County Historical Society, Sidney Church of God, Mount Zion Holy Union Church of God, Sidney Manufacturing Co. and Shelby County Land Reutilization Corp.

Commissioner Julie Ehemann said the county received word from the city, Wednesday, that the county’s property (board of elections office) should not have been included in the lawsuit. City Manager Mark Cundiff emailed Ehemann that the county buildings were on the list by mistake and will be taken off the lawsuit.

The civil lawsuit was filed Dec. 27, 2017, in Shelby County Common Pleas Court. Gary Clough, assistant city manager, filed an affidavit with the lawsuit citing the city’s reasons for the action. The complaint deals with the infiltration and inflow (I&I) of clear water into the city’s residential sanitary sewer system, which is responsible for “unnecessary and costly treatment of the water resulting from such I&I … (and) is the direct and proximate cause of overflow events at the city of Sidney Waste Water Treatment Plant.”

The city, said Clough Wednesday afternoon, was never fined by the Ohio EPA over the overflow of I&I into the waste water treatment plant.

“Originally OEPA required the city to construct a 36 million-gallon-per-day waste water treatment plant to treat our maximum flows during wet weather events,” said Clough. “The estimated cost of that project was $75 million. This cost and debt associated with that project would have been devastating to the residents of the city.

“Over the course of several years, the city negotiated with OEPA to reduce the scope of the project to something the city could afford,” he continued. “That resulted in the construction of a $12 million improvement project and a commitment to reduce the infiltration and inflow into the sewer collection system before it got the to the waste water treatment plant.

“This involves two steps. The city is actively inspecting and fixing inflow and infiltration into the sewer main system, and the residents are then required to repair any causes of inflow and infiltration into their sewer laterals that flow into the city’s sewer mains,” said Clough.

The city, said Clough, is divided into 21 areas, which will take 21 years to inspect and do needed updates and repairs.

“We are currently getting ready to send out letters to Area 5 this year,” said Clough. “They will be given until April 30, 2019, to complete an inspection of their sewer lateral and then until April 30, 2021, to complete any required repairs that the inspection identifies.

“Area 1 was the first section,” said Clough. “They were notified in February of 2014 that they would need to complete an inspection of their sewer lateral by April 30, 2015, and then complete any required repairs by April 30, 2017. Area 2 was notified in early 2015 that they would need to complete their inspection by April 30, 2016, and repairs by April 30, 2018. Area 3 was to have their inspection completed by April 30, 2017, and repairs by April 30, 2019, and area 4 inspections by April 30, 2018, and repairs by April 30, 2020.”

Property owners in Areas 1, 2 and 3, said Clough, were notified and reminded at least three times of the dates of completion before they were named in the lawsuit.

The list of property owners included in the lawsuit, said Clough, was “continually updated through the process. Understand that all the properties involved in the litigation were months past their deadlines to comply.”

The list, he said, was updated the week prior to Sidney City Council’s approving the litigation in November. Clough said he is working with City Attorney Jeffrey Amick to “prepare a list of addresses to dismiss from the lawsuit based on those who have complied since the final list was prepared and approved by City Council for litigation.”

The lawsuit is asking the court to order the property owners to conduct the inspections or to authorize the city to conduct the inspections with the property owners being billed for the work. Property owners have 28 days to file a response to the complaint with the court, said Clough.

Properties involved are on Catalpa Place, Cedarbrook Place, Cypress Place, Fair Oaks Drive, Grove Street, Juniper Way, Marilyn Drive, Maywood Place, Park Street, Sandlewood Place, Sixth Avenue, Willow Place, Buckeye Avenue, Fourth Avenue, Highland Avenue, Linden Avenue, North Street, Pomeroy Avenue, Ohio Avenue, Second Avenue, Wagner Avenue, Sycamore Avenue, Wilkinson Avenue, Forest Street, Helen Court, Maple Street, Lane Street, Main Avenue, Miami Avenue, Michigan Street, Oak Avenue, St. Marys Avenue, Pike Street, Walnut Avenue, Washington Street, West Avenue, Dayton Avenue, Beech Street, Marilyn Avenue and Court Street.

According to court records, the city posed a $300 filing fee with the original filing.

“We then posted a $10,200 deposit for additional anticipated fees as directed by the court,” said Clough. “The city will attempt to recover the fees from the property owners with the judge through the court action.”

Amos Library, Land Bank, churches, others included in lawsuit

By Melanie Speicher

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.