City, developer ask for negotiations extension


A U.S. District Court judge has extended the deadlines in the ongoing negotiations between the City of Delaware and a Columbus developer suing the city over water fees after both parties requested an extension at the end of last month.

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. Seattle House and the city reported in November that that they had reached a tentative agreement but disagreed about revisions to the settlement agreement.

Throughout the spring, the parties have filed updates with the court about their negotiations. A report was filed on June 30 stating they continue to work towards resolving the case.

“The Parties continue to confer and work through the feasibility of settlement terms,” the parties wrote in the report. “The parties require additional time to continue working through these terms and respectfully request additional time to further their negotiations.”

The parties proposed filing another join status report with the court on or before Sept. 29 if a finalized agreement has not been reached at that time.

Magistrate Judge Chelsea M. Vascura granted the request on July 5 and gave them a new dismissal or status report deadline of Sept. 29.

There have been no filings since the judge’s order on July 5.

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903.

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