City to drop six from sewer lawsuit

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — The Shelby County commissioners, Shelby County Historical Society, Sidney Manufacturing Co. and three other property owners named in a lawsuit filed by the city of Sidney for failing to have sanitary sewer inspections completed on their properties will be dropped from the lawsuit.

The civil lawsuit was filed Dec. 27, 2017, in Shelby County Common Pleas Court against 153 property owners.

“It’s just sad that they didn’t check their own records before filing their lawsuit against people who tried to make Sidney a better place to be,” said Tilda Phlipot, executive director of the Shelby County Historical Society.

Steve Baker, president of Sidney Manufacturing Co., said in an email, “Unfortunately, there was a mistake made in regards to the filing of a complaint against Sidney Manufacturing Co. by the city of Sidney. We have a letter dated Sept. 20, 2017, stating that Sidney Manufacturing Co. is in compliance and should be removed from the litigation list.”

As of mid-September, Clough said, the list of property owners in the lawsuit were not in compliance.

“At some point you have to stop (updating the list) and file (litigation),” said Gary Clough, assistant city manager.

Clough said that including the Shelby County commissioners in the lawsuit was a mistake, but the other property owners “came into compliance after the original, scheduled (inspection deadline) for compliance.”

Council approved legislation in November to authorize the law director to initiate the litigation against Sidney property owners who failed to comply with the city’s inflow and infiltration (I&I) program.

An affidavit filed with the lawsuit cited the city’s reasons for the action. The I&I of clear water into the city’s residential sanitary sewer system 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 is divided into 21 areas, which will take 21 years to inspect and do the needed updates and repairs. Clough said the lawsuit only deals with properties within Areas 1, 2 and 3.

The deadline for inspections to be completed in Area 1 was April 30, 2015; Area 2 had until April 30, 2016; and the properties in Area 3 had until April 30, 2017.

Clough said that as of Jan. 11, 19 properties in Area 1 were still not in compliance; 25 properties in Area 2 were not in compliance; and 64 properties in Area 3 were not in compliance.

Clough said the first step is to go to court to have these property owners dismissed from the lawsuit. He is unsure of what the law director will advise next steps to be.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.