"Blue Petition" Legal Action Stops $16 Million Industrial Sewer Bond Issuance in its Tracks
Jefferson County Vision (JCV) and several residents of Charles Town filed a legal request last week in Circuit Court for an order that the City Council follow state law, accept the “Blue Petition,” and hold a hearing on the citizens’ opposition to the $16 million bond issuance to fund a “super-sewer.” The proposed sewer line is many times the size required by Rockwool, a foreign corporation, building its factory across the street from an elementary school. (LINK) Over 1,500 landowners and residents in Charles Town signed the Blue Petition opposing public funding for the massive sewer line.
Although the City voted to approve the Bond in March, it has not yet been issued. According to documents filed in Court on Wednesday, the Charles Town Utility Board (CTUB) has “stayed the planned bid process for the bond-financed sewer line extension in direct response to this [the Blue Petition] litigation.” The Court has not yet set a briefing schedule on the JCV request.
Incredibly, Rockwool is once again attempting to force its way into the conversation between the government and its people. On June 26, it filed a request to participate in the proceedings. (LINK) Rockwool claims that it is entitled to a seat at the table because it cannot rely on Charles Town to protect its interests in the Sewer Bond. Rockwool’s pleading states:
“The City’s obligations are to the public, not Rockwool, and it is foreseeable that the City could reach an agreement with Petitioners that may be in the interest of the general public, but not Rockwool’s specific, narrow interest of having a [sewer] connection to its factory.”
JCV agrees on that narrow point, “the city’s obligations are to the public,” and it must follow the laws of the State of West Virginia in providing its citizens the right to be heard and to oppose funding of a “super-sewer” line that will radically change Jefferson County.
Petitioners have acknowledged Rockwool’s right to build and pay for its own sewer. This JCV citizen lawsuit is about the citizens’ right to be heard in opposition to the public funding of a “super-sewer” to Rockwool and other potential heavy industries along Rt.9. Nancy Gregory, one of the Charles Town residents bringing the case, said:
“From Day One, when this project was planned in secret, Rockwool has ignored the public interest in Jefferson County. Our case is about the following the process for government funding of an industrial sewer system. Nothing in this petition attempts to stop Rockwool or deny them their rights-- they are free to pursue their own sewer line without taxpayer funding. What we are asking for is the City of Charles Town to follow the law, hear its constituents, and accept the Blue Petition in opposition to the $16 million sewer bond.”