NORTH WEBSTER — The monthly public meeting of the Lakeland Regional Sewer District board of directors, held at 6 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 7, ended with a threat of legal action from one of the owners of a Shoe Lake cottage denied a rate elimination.
“I’ll be talking to my attorney,” declared Emily Daugherty, who said her family has owned the lakeside property since the 1950s.
According to Daugherty, her family, who only visit the cottage a few times a year to fish and do not live in the area, believed it followed all of the steps necessary to meet the district’s requirements for a rate elimination and had actually started to process in 2012 before waiting for the board to pass a rate ordinance, which occurred in July, 2015.
However, the property did not meet the ordinance requirements because the cottage was not torn down before the bond obligation date occurred. Daugherty claimed this was due to “huge miscommunication” between her family and Greg Gear, LRSD office manager, including confusion as to whether the family was seeking a rate reduction or an elimination. “I was in his office six or eight times,” she stated.
Daugherty contended Gear inspected the property in Dec. 2015 and informed her it qualified for rate elimination, adding she did not receive a bill for the inspection until May, 2017.
The final decision not to tear down the cottage, she said, was made after talking to someone from the county board of zoning appeals, an entity with little or no bearing on LRSD connections, rates or ordinances.
When denying the rate elimination request at its August, 2017 meeting, the board referred to an earlier document signed by several family members requesting a rate reduction, not an elimination.
Daugherty also stated Gear made “controversial statements” in emails she received from him in late August informing her of the board’s Aug. 3 decision to deny rate elimination.
Regardless of any miscommunication which may have occurred, the board agreed the family had received the information it needed in time to make the needed changes. “The necessary steps weren’t taken,” concluded board member Parke Smith, who added the ordinance had been published and the information provided to the district. Daugherty acknowledged the family had received a copy of ordinance, but repeated Gear was at fault.
Daugherty said she would be contacting her attorney “and we will be back” before exiting the meeting.
Andy Boxberger, the LRSD board’s attorney, was not present at the meeting.
In other LRSD news, Kenneth Jones of JPR informed the board 1,395 district property owners had received construction permits to connect to the sewer as of Sept. 7, 84.5 percent. 986 are now connected to the system, or 59.7 percent. September was the deadline by which residents needed to have a permit to avoid penalties. Exactly what those penalties should be will be discussed at the October board meeting.
The board passed a motion to discontinue Saturday office hours starting Sept. 18.