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Poland council OKs storm-water utility fee

Saturday, December 25, 2010

By Ashley Luthern


It took the better part of a year and two ordinances, but village officials finally have settled on a permanent storm-water utility fee.

On Tuesday, council passed the storm-water utility ordinance by a vote of 5 to 1, with Councilman David Raspanti voting no.

That ordinance differs from the original piece of legislation passed in April because it does not include a cap for commercial property.

Instead, it will equate every 2,500 square feet with one Equivalent Residential Unit.

The monthly fee rate is $3.50 per ERU.

An ERU serves as an index to compare the runoff water generated by different-sized properties with different amounts of paved surface.

The April ordinance capped any commercial property at five ERU.

Under the new ordinance each home, regardless of size, is equal to one ERU and will be charged $3.50 per month, or $42 annually, said Mayor Tim Sicafuse.

“We eliminated the cap from the April ordinance because we wanted to be fair to every business owner and resident. Capping it seemed more unfair,” said Solicitor Anthony D’Apolito.

At a Dec. 14 public hearing, residents voiced concern and support for the ordinance.

Poland Board of Education member and commercial business owner Dr. Larry Dinopoulos told the council the school board opposes the measure.

“We feel an undue burden because we have a large amount of land in the village,” he said.

Local businessman John Scotford, Jr. described the ordinance as putting a “body cast on a scratch wound.”

He questioned that the village had to create a storm-water utility fee to stay in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency standards, which he argued do not address problems such as flooding.

“The first thing that would be done is having the water analyzed,” he said. “...We don’t even know if we have a problem with the water.”

D’Apolito said that ordinance’s function was to maintain the water quality and provide education to keep the water clean, in addition to addressing flooding concerns that could affect the water quality.

Although council said it understands the school board’s position, it did not include an exemption for the district’s property.

“There are no exemptions for anyone,” said Councilman Joe Mazur.

The next step, D’Apolito said, is to secure a contract with Aqua Ohio to collect the storm-water utility fee.