As a settlement nears, a U.S. District Court judge has closed the ongoing legal battle between the City of Delaware and a Columbus developer who sued the city over water fees.

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.

The parties have been in the process of mediation since spring of 2022 and reported last November that they had reached a tentative agreement but snagged on revisions to the agreement and have been working since then to reach a finalized agreement.

A report was filed on June 30 stating they continue to work towards resolving the case, and the parties proposed filing another join status report with the court on or before Sept. 29 if a finalized agreement had 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.

On Sept. 25, Judge Edmund A. Sargus issued an order administratively closing the case until the parties reach a settlement.

“The parties in this case are in the final stages of settlement,” Sargus wrote in the order. “The parties are directed to file a request to reopen this case when the settlement is complete. The parties may then file their stipulated dismissal.”

The case was terminated and removed from the court’s active docket after the order.

A request to reopen the case has not yet been filed.

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