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Thursday, February 16, 2012

STORMWATER: Court rules program can move forward, charge fee for services

On February 15, 2012, Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Thomas J. Pokorny issued an opinion in the case of Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District vs. Bath Township, Ohio, et al. (CV-10-714945).

This is the second ruling from Judge Pokorny reaffirming the Sewer District’s authority to implement a regional Stormwater Management Program; the first ruling occurred in April 2011.

The February 15 ruling includes the following:
  • The Sewer District’s Stormwater Management Program fee is authorized under Chapter 6119 of the Ohio Revised Code; the charges proposed are ruled a fee—and not a tax—as the Defendants argued,
  • Defendants’ Motion for Permanent Injunction was denied, and
  • Judge Pokorny determined that the City of Hudson is a member of the Sewer District.
[Download Judge Thomas J. Pokorny's opinion]

“The Court has decisively affirmed that the Sewer District not only has the authority to implement this program, but charge a fee for the services this program will provide,” said Julius Ciaccia, Executive Director, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District. “The Sewer District’s Stormwater Management Program is a great demonstration of regionalism and I look forward to working with community leaders as we begin to address the region’s escalating stormwater problems with a progressive, forward-thinking attitude.”

Judge Pokorny requested the Sewer District address several proposed changes to the Stormwater Management Program, including an alternative community cost-share formula, additional fee options for non-residential customers, engineering cost credits and the development of stormwater-related curriculum for schools. The Court will hold a hearing with all associated parties regarding these proposed changes in the next 30 days.
UPDATE 2012 03/29: Since Judge Pokorny's February 15 opinion, the opposition communities and the business owners association have filed appeals. The District filed motions to dismiss these appeals and has filed cross-appeals, as well, arguing that the judge’s opinion is not a final order from which an appeal can be taken. The Sewer District is awaiting a decision from the Court of Appeals. 
The Sewer District filed the initial motion for declaratory judgment on January 7, 2010, the same day the Sewer District’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted to adopt Title V, the section of the Sewer District’s Code of Regulations that details of the Stormwater Management Program.


The Sewer District’s Stormwater Management Program will address flooding, erosion and water quality problems throughout its defined service area. In addition, the Sewer District will assume responsibility for millions of dollars of necessary maintenance along streams across the region.

The average homeowner within the Sewer District’s Service Area would be charged $4.75 per month, or $57 per year, to pay for stormwater-related construction projects and maintenance. The Sewer District has identified more than $220 million of needed construction projects, and detailed planning on some projects has already begun. These stormwater-related projects will provide relief to multiple communities within each watershed.

Additional information about the Stormwater Management Program is available at

Media Contacts:
Jennifer Elting, Public Information Specialist
Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District 
Jean Chapman, Public Information Specialist
Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District 

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