LISBON - The Elkton Auto Corral is moving back to town after reaching a compromise with Village Council at Tuesday's meeting.
The resolution adopted by council requires the village to run a sanitary sewer line at its expense to the rear of the used car dealership's building. Owners Jay and Susan Mullen are responsible for installing a lateral line connecting the dealership building to the sewer line.
"Thank you very, very much," Susan Mullen told council, which met in executive session for an hour to work out the details. Mullen and her husband Jay own the dealership, and she said they intend to move their vehicles back to Lisbon.
"We're sorry it took so long," Councilman Steve Defilippo told them.
The saga began when the Mullens purchased the former Quinn Chevrolet dealership at auction in 2012 and relocated their used car business there from Elkton. They did not discover until 2013 that sewer service to the building had been cut off by the village about two months prior to the sale after a strong odor of fuel was smelled by a contractor installing a storm sewer in North Jefferson Street, which runs parallel to the dealership.
After discovering the problem, the Mullens approached the village, only to be told the property owner is responsible for connecting to the sewer line, regardless of the circumstances.
Complicating the situation was residual groundwater contamination from an old gas station once located at the front of the dealership (the location of the gas odor and severed sewer line is at the rear). BP is the process of cleaning up the contamination, and the village asked the area around the severed sewer line be tested as well. BP complied, and no detectable levels of contamination were found.
After hearing nothing from the village in the two weeks since the test results were released, the Mullens followed through last week on their threat to move most of their business back to Elkton. They also brought in porta-potties for customers but placed them prominently at the front of the property facing the main thoroughfare through town, along with a sign asking passing motorists to honk if they supported them.
Prior to Tuesday night, village Solicitor Virginia Barborak had been trying to contact BP in the hopes of convincing the company to do all of the work. She had also recommended the Mullens sue the bank for selling them the property without sewer service.
After the meeting, Mr. Mullen said he and his wife took down the sign and moved the porta-potties away from the street, with some people stopping to help.
"I thought they we're more than fair," he said of council, "and we appreciate all of the support from the community."
Following are the terms of the agreement:
- Lisbon will install a new sewer line that will extend from Jefferson Street east through the alley behind the dealership.
- The Mullens will be responsible for running the lateral line connecting the dealership to the new sewer line, but the lateral line must be made of EPA-approved materials. The village will concrete and blacktop the area excavated for the lateral line.
- The village will waive the minimum $600 tap fee.
- The Mullens must abandon the old lateral line and obtain written approval from BP for the project to be undertaken.
"I'm just glad to see it done. I think there was a lot of a miscommunication," said Councilman Jeff Snyder.
Prior to the executive session portion of the meeting, two audience members were critical of council's apparent failure to assist the Mullens.
"If they're paying taxes, they should have sewer service," Bill Catlett told them. "The city disconnected them and the city should reconnect them."
Another man said the Mullens purchased the building in good faith, and the village should help them. "If you want re-elected I would say you need to help these people out," he said.