Alexander School District sues village of Albany over sewer dispute

October 16,2015

ALBANY — A judge is being asked to order the village of Albany to allow Alexander Local School District to connect its new bus garage and proposed wellness center into the village’s sanitary sewer system.

The school district filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Athens County Common Pleas Court, naming the village and Mayor Tim Kirkendall as defendants.

Village and school officials have been at odds for several months over conditions set by the village for the district to hook up the wellness center and the replacement bus garage to the sewer. The village’s position has been that hooking up an additional building amounts to a new tap, which requires annexation.

The central argument of the lawsuit is that the school district purchased a tap in 2004 for $95,000 that allowed the discharge of up to 22,200 gallons of sewage per day. Currently, the school complex is discharging about 8,600 gallons per day, leaving plenty of capacity to add the wellness center, according to the lawsuit.

Village officials have told The Messenger that they are simply following their regulations, including a 2010 ordinance that requires annexation in order to receive a new sewer tap.

The lawsuit argues that the 2010 ordinance does not apply to this situation because it was enacted after the 2004 sewer agreement, which contained no annexation requirement, and the district already has a tap allowing it to discharge up to 22,500 gallons per day. The district argues that it owns the sewer infrastructure upstream of the existing tap on Rossetter Road.

Regarding the new bus garage, Kirkendall sent the school district a letter last summer saying the village would not allow the new garage to be hooked up to the sewer until after the old bus garage is disconnected and the old tap removed (which would also disconnect the weight room).

According to the lawsuit, Kirkendall was informed by the district that it would be “impossible” to disconnect the old bus garage until the new garage is connected and receives its occupancy permit.

Kirkendall is being sued as an individual, with the district claiming that he has been acting outside the scope of his authority by imposing conditions that exceed the village’s sewer use regulations or ordinances. In part, the lawsuit asks for an injunction against Kirkendall.

According to the lawsuit, failure to get approval to hook up the new bus garage is delaying completion on the project. Also, the lawsuit states that the district has accepted bids for construction of the wellness center, which will become void if a contract is not awarded by Nov. 11.

The lawsuit claims that because of the village’s actions, the school district has or will incur losses in excess of $380,000.

It’s also being asserted that the village has been sending sewer bills for the new bus garage, which the district has paid even though it has not been allowed to hook the garage to the sewer. The lawsuit also alleges that the village has failed to completely comply with public records requests.

The lawsuit asks the court to rule that the school district has purchased the right to discharge up to 22,200 gallons of sewage per day through the existing tap on Rossetter Road and that the village can’t require annexation of the school property. It also asks for an injunction preventing the village from blocking hook up of the two new buildings, and a court order requiring the village to take the steps necessary to allow the hookups.

The school district also has filed for a temporary restraining order. A hearing is schedule for Friday at 1 p.m. in the courtroom of Judge Patrick Lang.

The Messenger contacted Village Solicitor Scott Robe for comment. Robe, through an intermediary, indicated he had not yet had an opportunity to review the lengthy documents filed by the school district’s attorney.

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