Plain City Lanes faces gutter problems

By Rob Treynor

February 6, 2014

One way or another, Plain City Lanes’ owner, Jim Walter, will have some hefty expenses in his near future.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has instructed Walter to repair the bowling alley’s septic system or hook into the village’s wastewater/sewer system.

“My leach bed that’s failing is 57 years old. I can repair it. But I’d just as soon tap into the village,” Walter told the village council during the Jan. 27 meeting.

Tapping into the sewer line will be expensive, however. Walter would have to lay pipe under his front driveway, bore under U.S. Route 42 and connect to the sewer line across the street.

Add to that, Plain City Lanes is facing the $8,700 tap fee which Plain City charges to businesses joining the sewer system.

Walter, however, believes that Plain City Lanes should be exempt from having to pay the tap fee. He told council that when the sewer line was installed along Route 42, most businesses were able to hook up to it free of charge.

“Back then, if you were closer than 250 feet away from the road, you’d get a free tap. I was 270 feet, and they probably didn’t want to spend the money, so I didn’t get a tap,” Walter said.

Former Plain City mayor Michael George was present at the Jan. 27 meeting and championed Walter’s case.

“His business has been here for half a century. Back when everyone got a free tap, he didn’t get that option,” George said.

“I feel like council should consider that this is an existing business that needs some help. And it didn’t get what all the other businesses got in town around 40 years ago.

“This business has been in the community a long time, and has provided a lot of jobs, a lot of entertainment and a lot of tax dollars over the last half-century.

“They’re already facing an enormous expense running a sewer line 270 feet,” George said. “It’s going to cost far more than the $8,700 tap fee that he’s looking at. That tap fee would be an additional expense. I’d estimate it’ll cost $10,000-12,000 to run that line.

“He’s already going to have to pay an enormous expense on running a line to the sewer, it’d be nice to waive the tap fee.”

Council member Jim Moore made a motion to waive the tap fee, but it died for lack of a second.

Council member Bob Walter expressed his concerns, “We just started a $10 surcharge to compensate for a lack of tap fees. How can we justify that we waive a tap fee when tap fees are what pays for the water and sewer plant?”

The concern was raised that if Plain City Lanes was given special treatment, it would have to be extended to all other business in the village on a septic system.

When asked how many businesses are not tapped into the sewer system already, village administrator, Kevin Vaughn, said, “I’m not sure offhand. Probably three or four.”

President Pro Tem Shawn Kaeser said, “In my mind, we do all we can to keep businesses that are here. I think we do what we can do to get them on to the system.”

I do have concerns that there may be an equal protection problem. I’d have to look at some factors,” village solicitor John Michael La Fayette said, “I need to know a few more facts. It wouldn’t take me a long time, but I need to consider it.”

“Anyway you look at it, I’m requesting to waive the tap fee. I’m thinking it should be grandfathered in,” Jim Walter said.

“I think they want to help you,” Mayor Sandra Adkins said. “Mr. La Fayette will give them more information so they can make a fair decision.”

Mr. Walter should have council’s decision at the next council meeting.

The next Plain City village council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 10.

Rob Treynor may be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 19 or on Twitter @robtreynor.