City, developer working towards settlement


The City of Delaware and a Columbus developer suing the city over water fees filed a joint report Tuesday in which both sides said they need additional time to negotiate a settlement.

The parties have been embroiled in a legal battle in the United States District Court’s South District of Ohio since 2020 when Seattle House LLC filed a lawsuit against the city claiming its water fees are discriminatory. The developer had previously purchased 24.2 acres on the city’s east side across from Glennwood Commons and developed 240 one- and two-bedroom apartments on the property. In the developer’s complaint, it states the company had to pay fees totaling $1,917,883 to tap into the city’s water and sewer lines. The developer states it contracted an independent third party to investigate the fees and claimed the developer should have paid only $693,881.

The developer’s lawsuit went on to claim the fees the city charges to tap into its water and sewer lines violate the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The lawsuit also alleges the fees are leading to an affordable housing crisis within the city, and the fees are a form of racial discrimination.

The City of Delaware has said the allegations against it are “baseless” and has disputed the claims made in the case.

In the spring of 2022, the city and Seattle House asked the court to move the case to mediation, which the court approved. According to court records, the parties met for a mediation conference in July 22 but there were no filings after the conference. In October, U.S. Magistrate Judge Chelsea M. Vascura filed an order to both parties asking for an update.

Seattle House and the city responded on Nov. 10 and Nov. 11, respectively, and individually wrote that they had reached a tentative agreement but disagreed about revisions to the settlement agreement.

According to the joint filing on Tuesday, the parties are interested in the potential settlement terms they discussed at a meeting on Nov. 30, 2022, and said they’d be meeting today to “continue working through the feasibility of those terms.”

The parties asked the court for more time to negotiate and finalize a modified settlement agreement.

The parties also proposed that they file another joint status report on or before March 31 if a finalized settlement has not been reached by that time.

There have been no filings since the joint statement on Tuesday.

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