Auto Corral bides it time

LISBON – The Elkton Auto Corral remains in place for now, despite a threat to move the dealership back to Elkton unless the village agreed by Monday to reconnect the business to the sanitary sewer system.

Susan Mullen, who owns and operates the used car dealership with her husband Jay, said they will wait until the end of the week before deciding whether to follow through on her threat to move the entire business back to Elkton.

“We really want to stay here but (only) if they’re going to help me,” she said. “It’s embarrassing to continue sending our customers over to the Steel Trolley” to use the bathroom.

About a dozen vehicles had been moved to the Elkton lot by Monday, and Mullen said she has decided to wait until Friday before deciding to transport the rest. She expects by then to have results from contamination tests they hope will convince the village to reconnect them.

Mullen announced at the April 15 Village Council meeting they were prepared to move the business from Lisbon back to its original location in Elkton by Monday, unless officials agreed to reconnect them to the sanitary sewer which was severed as part of a 2012 storm sewer installation project. The Mullens purchased the closed dealership following completion of the project but did not discover until 2013 that sewer service had been severed, after the bathrooms and service-area drain began backing up.

The village is concerned about contamination issues resulting from underground storage tanks that served the BP gas station once located on the property. During the storm sewer project some gasoline was found in the sewer line that connects to the dealership building, and Lisbon officials say they cannot reconnect the line because of the liability issues that creates. The village has urged the Mullens to sue the bank that sold them the property in this condition.

On April 1, an environmental engineering firm hired by BP to continue remediation of the property drilled five test borings on the area of the property where the connecting line is located, and the results are expected any day. Mullen said this was done at the village’s request, and she expects the preliminary results to be favorable and hopes that will be enough to convince the village to change its position.

Village officials had indicated that Ohio Environmental Protection Agency prohibited them from reconnecting to the sewer line if gasoline still remained in the connecting line, but OEPA spokeswoman Linda Oros said that is not the case.

“That’s not something we’re overseeing,” she said, when contacted Monday by the Journal. “We’re not involved in that at all.”

While they are aware of BP’s remediation plan for the property, Oros said the OEPA is not responsible for overseeing the plan, nor do they play any role in deciding if and when the village can reconnect the sewer line to the dealership.

“It’s not our permission they need to take that action,” she said.

The gas station closed in the 1970s and the underground storage tanks were removed about 1980.