A U.S. District Court magistrate judge has ordered the City of Delaware and a central Ohio developer suing them over water fees to meet next month for a mediation conference.
The case began in 2020 when Seattle House LLC filed a lawsuit against the city claiming the city’s 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 filed several responses to Seattle House’s complaint and has disputed the claims made in the case, adding the allegations are “baseless.”
The parties filed a joint motion on March 31 requesting that the court alter the case schedule and refer the case to mediation by a judicial officer of the court.
“In an effort to facilitate meaningful settlement negotiations and in the interest of judicial economy, the Parties respectfully request the court refer this matter to mediation before Magistrate Judge Chelsey M. Vascura,” the parties wrote in the motion.
On May 12, United States Magistrate Judge Chelsey M. Vascura filed an order stating that the parties must appear for a settlement conference on June 28 before Magistrate Judge Terence P. Kemp.
“The trial attorney for each party must attend the conference, and the parties or principals with settlement authority shall be present,” Vascura wrote in the order. “Parties and Counsel should arrange their schedules to be available the entire day. Lack of discovery or settlement authority will not excuse active participation in the conference.”
There have been no filings in the case since the order scheduling the conference.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.