By: NICK RAHALL
May 9, 2013
Julia Roberts Goad
PIKEVILLE, Ky. — The acquisition by Mountain Water District of property at Belfry for the construction of the Belfry Pond Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant has been put on hold due to pending litigation.
The Mountain Water District Board of Commissioners recently adopted a resolution delaying the acquisition of the plant site at Peg’s Branch in Belfry. The resolution was made on advice of counsel, due to litigation that has been filed before the Public Service Commission.
District Six Magistrate Chris Harris has been lobbying for the plant for years. He is the attorney acting on behalf of a group of citizens of the Belfry area who are petitioning the Public Service Commission to direct the District to provide them public sewer service.
While Harris, in his capacity of counsel for the citizens in Clark McCoy, Et Al vs. Mountain Water District, did not comment on the case, the issue of a waste treatment system for Belfry is a cause he has addressed for years.
Harris said the project is long overdue, and places the blame on Mountain Water District.
At a meeting held earlier this year, Harris said the system has not been built due to MWD.
“The Board’s failure to proceed with a project that has been funded for well over five years is causing many of the citizens of the service area to go without wastewater service,” Harris said.
The MWD has $2.85 million set aside for the project, with $308,000 to be allotted in the next two years.
Dan Stratton, legal counsel for the District, reported to the Board that he had been in consultation with John N. Hughes, Esq., of Frankfort, Kentucky, who is representing the District before the Public Service Commission in the action.
The District said the purchase of the property at Belfry hinges on the action before the PSC.
“In the event that the Public Service Commission’s ruling changes the scope of the project, the acquisition of the Peg’s Branch site could be rendered unnecessary.” Mountain water said in a statement. “In that the cost of the property was a substantial portion of the project cost, it was recommended that the pending closure on the purchase be delayed until such a time as this litigation is completed.”
The Board, did however, direct its Administrator, Roy Sawyers, to continue with the public surveys in the area, as that process had already started and was a minimal cost to the District. Accordingly, surveys of the public will continue to determine the level of interest in providing wastewater service to the area.
“As counsel for the plaintiffs I really can’t comment on this pending litigation,” Magistrate Harris said. “Other than to say we are glad to see the project getting some attention and apparently moving forward.”