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Palmer Place complex owner must pay city more than $130K

A local apartment complex owner will have to pay the city more than $130,000 after the court ruled he had to pay the city’s mandated water and sewer permit fees.

Athens County Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael Ward ruled Wednesday that the Palmer Place apartment complex, 95 Kurtz St., owner Leslie Cornwell must pay the city $134,400 for water and sewer permit fees.

Palmer Place was completed in fall 2008. At the time there were 64 apartments with 255 residents. Nick Carr, then the Athens director of Water and Sewer, sent a bill for $179,212.50 to Cornwell for tap-water permit fees in the apartments shortly after they were completed.

Cornwell filed the lawsuit against the city Oct. 24, 2008, to contest the fees, and Carr reduced the amount to $134,400 because four of the taps on the property were previously installed by commercial properties that used to be there.

Cornwell filed the lawsuit because he thought the fees were unreasonable and the city failed to inform him of how it arrived at the fees, according to court documents. The case was heard at a court proceeding Nov. 22, 2010.

Cornwell claimed he should have been billed based on usage of the water, not by the set $1,000 fee per Ohio Environmental Protection Agency-regulated housing unit plus installation costs. He also claimed that Athens’ permit fees were much higher than similar cities, according to court documents.

The court dismissed Cornwell’s claims and found the city properly followed city and EPA guidelines when billing the landlord.

Cornwell’s complaint was dismissed, and he must pay the full amount of the bill to the city. Cornwell can appeal.


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