The Elkton Auto Corral's sewer problems have gone on too long. It's time for the village of Lisbon to find a solution before it loses this business and is left with another empty storefront.
The ordeal began when Jay and Susan Mullen purchased the former Quinn Chevrolet dealership at a 2012 bank auction for $98,500 and moved the Elkton Auto Corral to the location shortly thereafter. The Mullens did not discover until later the building had no sewer service, having been cut off when the village installed a storm sewer system along South Jefferson Street prior to the sale.
The village did this after the contractor smelled a strong odor of gasoline in the lateral sewer line connecting to the dealership, and officials were concerned it had or would infiltrate the main sewer line.
After discovering the problem, the Mullens approached the village, only to be told it was the property owner's responsibility to reconnect to the sewer line, even if it was the village that severed the connection.
Complicating the situation is residual groundwater contamination from an old gas station once located at the front of the dealership (the location of the gas odor is at the rear). BP is in the process of cleaning up the contamination, and the village - concerned the gas odor might be from that contamination- asked the area around the sewer line be tested. BP complied, and no detectable levels of contamination were found.
The ball is now in village's court and it's time for a compromise. While the village believes it acted appropriately given the circumstances at the time, the circumstances have changed. The Mullens did not create the situation, but they are the ones being punished.
Mrs. Mullen says she offered to contribute $3,000 toward the costs of reconnecting the sewer to the dealership, but it was turned down by the village. She has estimated that it would cost her company more than $10,000 to have the work done privately. The village should be able to complete the project at a much more reasonable price.
If the offer is still good, the village should take it and come up with a plan to do the work itself that also addresses whatever concerns remain. As for the village regulation holding property owners responsible for connecting to the sewer lines, can't it be waived in certain circumstances? All it takes is some creative leadership by the village, which seems to be in short supply.
Thousands of dollars are sometimes spent to lure a business into a town. The Elkton Auto Corral is in Lisbon and wants to remain there. Finding a way to solve this dealership's problem and keep this business in town should be top priority for Lisbon officials.