Update: The letter is online at the Blue Paper now, too. And, yes, of course I commented. Can’t help myself.
Lawyers can be very silly and melodramatic sometimes. They must learn it in school.
A few weeks back the County released a statement regarding the most recent lawsuit filed by two property owners in Cudjoe Regional. I wrote about it here. According to the county’s attorney, Cynthia Hall, the plaintiffs want to delay the project because they object to the “efficient, cost-effective” design. Ha! Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!
So why do these property owners hate “efficient, cost-effective” designs so much? Who knows? The county would like us to believe they’re just plain evil I guess.
If you actually read the complaint, it’s easy to see the plaintiffs aren’t nearly as diabolical as the county’s laughably over-the-top statement has made them out to be. They are simply asking that the grinder pump be placed in the right-of-way rather than in an easement on their property. Why is this considered such an outlandish request?
The plaintiff’s cite a county rule that says the following:
Private property; properties under one ownership. For private property or contiguous properties under one ownership with one or more EDUs that in total has a cumulative estimated wastewater flow of less than 1,000 gallons per day:
(1) The utility shall provide a means of connection within the public right-of-way, whether by vacuum pit or other, that abuts the property and that can be accessed via a gravity system; or
(2) At the request of the property owner, the utility shall provide a connection to the utility system at the public right-of-way line that abuts the property for the property owner to extend onto his property a collection system that is compatible with the utility system and meets the minimum utility design standards.
There’s absolutely nothing in the rule that requires a property owner to grant an easement. In fact, the rule emphatically states that the connection shall be placed in the right-of-way. It doesn’t sound to me like this lawsuit is frivolous or without merit. What does the “partnership” have to gain by forcing these property owners to grant them an easement when there is a feasible alternative?
How does asking the “partnership” to put the pump station in one location rather than another delay the project? How does this request demonstrate a hatred of all things “efficient and cost-effective”? If anyone despises an “efficient and cost-effective project” it’s the county. When was the last time one of their capital projects came in under budget? If the county has a valid argument, then they ought to make it. They sound like they’ve completely lost their minds with all this name-calling and saber-rattling.
One could certainly argue that providing the easement is to the property owners’ financial benefit. After all, the closer the grinder pump station is to the building the lower the cost to the property owner to tie in. Presumably, these two property owners have done the math and have decided they don’t want the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA) on their property. It’s simply not worth it to them. It looks to me like the law is on their side.
Once again, I’m left wondering how things got to this point. Why can’t the “partnership” manage to keep themselves out of court?
There was a letter in support of the plaintiffs in the Citizen yesterday. Nice to hear another point of view.