Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Sludge appeal planned

Water Works says it has legal right to build pit on its land

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FAIRFIELD - The sludge story continues.

Greater Cincinnati Water Works officials told Fairfield City Council this week that they plan to file an appeal with Butler County Common Pleas Court to overturn a recent denial to build a sludge pit behind some of Fairfield's most expensive homes.

Last month, City Council unanimously rejected the utility's request to locate the nine-acre pit for lime residue over the next 30 years at Water Works' River Road water plant, which was built in 1967.

A public outcry against the pit from Fairfield neighbors spurred City Council to deny the request after Fairfield's planning commission narrowly approved it - with several conditions - in September.

The proposed lime basin would border the Monastery and Riverside Estates subdivisions, where 250 to 300 homes average $300,000 in sale price.

Outraged neighbors feared the pit would decrease their property values and bring blight, noise and other problems. They even vowed to launch a referendum drive if city leaders approved the pit.

Water Works Director David Rager, however, told City Council at Monday's meeting that the utility has legal rights to build the pit on their property. Besides going to court, Water Works also plans to appear before Fairfield's board of zoning appeals.

"We were there first," Mr. Rager said. "I am very disappointed. We have worked very hard to be good corporate citizens in Fairfield and have bent over backward to work with the community. They knew our water plant was there, and they moved to the nuisance."

Fairfield officials, who have expected the dispute to hit the courts, rejected the proposed pit because, they say, it doesn't comply with the city's land use plan.

"We stand by our decision and the request of the residents," Councilman Ron D'Epifanio said.

The Water Works plant in Fairfield serves residents of Ross and West Chester townships in Butler County, Deerfield Township in Warren County, and Harrison and Colerain Township in Hamilton County.

The utility needs to build a new pit soon because its existing one, on private land in Fairfield Township, will reach capacity in two years, Mr. Rager said.


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