Sewer suit leads to heated debate
By Tim Yovich
The Lordstown mayor says he won’t ‘jump through hoops like some trained dog.’
WARREN — Sarcastic remarks were exchanged between Lordstown Mayor Michael A. Chaffee and Trumbull County Commissioner Paul Heltzel over a lawsuit the commissioners have filed against the village over creation of a village sewer utility plan.
“You’re the ones who have dragged your feet,” Heltzel told Chaffee on Wednesday, who wanted the commissioners to go into executive session to discuss the issue.
Chaffee asserted that the commissioners were treating him “like a piece of dirt” for not meeting with him.
The lawsuit filed this spring in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court asks the court to stop the village from establishing its own municipal sewer utility until the county completes or abandons all plans to provide sanitary sewers in the village, or until the county agrees to convey to the village the current lines.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency approved an $8 million low-interest loan to extend sewer lines in the eastern portion of the village to serve about 600 residents who have been using residential septic systems. The effluent would be treated at Warren’s sewage treatment plant. Construction has been ongoing.
Atty. Paul Dutton, village solicitor, has maintained that the county brought the action against Lordstown, and the village is offering a resolution.
Under the terms of the EPA loan, the solicitor pointed out, the village must create its own sewer district.
Commissioners called a special meeting so they and Lordstown officials could go into executive session to discuss a resolution to the lawsuit.
Heltzel argued against going into executive session, however, because the county sent Lordstown a May 1 letter listing 25 questions the county wanted answered before any meeting.
“You’re a day late” in answering the questions, Heltzel told Chaffee.
Dutton explained that Lordstown doesn’t want to put the answers in writing because they may negatively affect the village if the case goes to trial.
Chaffee told the commissioners that he has dealt with officeholders from the state level on down and he never met one that wouldn’t discuss issues.
The mayor noted that the village did respond in writing to the May 1 letter, pointing out that the village, however, wants to respond orally.
When commissioners failed to adjourn into executive session, Chaffee said, “I’m not going to jump through hoops like some trained dog.”
After some discussion, the two sides agreed to have an executive session at the commissioners’ July 3 meeting. The village will put in writing its responses to the questions it feels comfortable answering.