GOSHEN — Elkhart County leaders are still fielding questions about a dispute between the city of Elkhart and handful of homeowners who have not signed an agreement to pay rates for sewer services outside of city limits.
The county commissioners sent a letter Wednesday, May 8, to 14 Valley View Hills Subdivision residents following Elkhart’s request to cut sewer lines hooked up to homes that have refused to sign the city’s new compact fee policy. The letter explained that the city is in compliance with Indiana law though the commissioners have stated that shutting off utility services should be a last resort. From the beginning, the commissioners have cited concerns about potential health problems that could arise if sewer lines are severed.
Sheriff Brad Rogers told the commissioners this week that he has been contacted by a few homeowners about the dispute.
“Please understand that I’m not making a judgement who’s wrong or right on either side, but we are concerned about is the public health hazard if this goes through and what responsibility does the county have to mitigate that or avoid that problem,” Rogers said.
Terry Rodino, county commissioners president, told Rogers that the commissioners are “in the same boat,” adding that he wants to stay on top of the issue.
The letter urged homeowners to sign the agreement and explained that the county will deem the city’s request “appropriate and effective for utility work” as of June 2. The letter, Rodino said, was meant to communicate that health remains the county’s top concern.
“We also wanted to send the letter because we felt like there was still a certain amount of people who thought we hold a trump card that was going to stop everything,” Rodino said. “We kind of do, but a health issue is the main thing. It always has been and always will be. There’s no way you can cut off sewer and just start dumping that into the back of their homes, in the streets or in the right-of-way. It’s just not healthy.”
County commissioner Mike Yoder said Gordon Lord, the county’s legal counsel, will remain in contact with the city to monitor how many holdouts in the subdivision remain as June 2 approaches.