Lisbon to return dealership’ sewer fee, stop bills

LISBON – Village Council voted this week to reimburse the owners of the Elkton Auto Corral for sewer bills they paid over the past 18 months even though their dealership is not hooked into the sanitary sewer system.

Jay and Susan Mullen attended the council meeting to make the board aware of the situation and to request some relief. Mrs. Mullen said they discovered the problem after purchasing the former Quinn Chevrolet dealership in August 2012, when the restrooms and service area drains began backing up.

They hired two companies at a cost of more than $2,000 to find the blockage, and both determined there was a concrete impediment outside the dealership in the middle of South Jefferson Street. Upon further investigation, the Mullens learned the concrete blockage was likely the storm sewer installed along Jefferson Street in 2012, which severed the sewer line.

“It’s really not our problem but it is our problem,” Mrs. Mullen said.

The village sewer department was aware of the situation but continued to bill the Mullens for sanitary sewer service they never used. Meanwhile, they had to pay a septic pumper to have the wastewater sucked out of the drains and toilets on a regular basis.

Then there is the embarrassment associated with trying to run a business that lacks functioning bathrooms. Mrs. Mullen said they direct their customers to use the restrooms at the Steel Trolley Diner across the street. “I’ve been going to Pondi’s,” she added.

“We’ve come to your city from Elkton to improve ourselves … I guess we’re just looking for a little help,” she said.

Village Board of Public Affairs member Bill Hoover was in attendance and he said they had been aware of the problem but were unable to do anything in 2012 until a minor property contamination issue involving the dealership parking lot was resolved. The contamination, from old underground gas storage tanks, has since been remediated.

Hoover said they are willing to waive the tap fee associated with reconnecting to the sewer line, but the Mullens would have to pay to install and connect the line. Mrs. Mullen said this was a Catch 22 situation because they are prohibited from digging up a public street.

Village Solicitor Virginia Barborak then asked the Mullens if they would pay to reconnect to the sewer line if the village waived the tap fee and granted them permission to do the work. Mullen said that would likely cost them upward of $10,000.

At this point, council went into executive session under pending litigation since Mrs. Mullen said they were considering taking legal action. Council emerged 40 minutes later and agreed to reimburse the Mullens for their sewer bills (about $600) and to quit billing them any further until the problem is resolved.