Kirkersville battles Southwest Licking over waterline to Flying J
KIRKERSVILLE – A public waterline extension to the Flying J Travel Center is half complete, even though the Kirkersville Village Council decided against allowing public water within village limits.
Don Rector, general manager of the Southwest Licking Community Water and Sewer District, which hopes to supply water to the Flying J, said Kirkersville Village filed a temporary restraining order against the district late January. Village and district representatives met with Licking County Common Pleas Judge Jon Spahr Feb. 5, who did not grant the restraining order because both parties agreed to work together on a resolution. “The district and the village put a hold on the hearing to continue to work out a water agreement,” said Rector. “If that doesn’t work out, we’ll continue the temporary restraining order hearing on the 26th of February.”
Rector said the district has completed approximately 50 percent of the project to provide water to the Flying J. Ohio EPA issued the district a permit to install and has provided about half the funding necessary through federal stimulus money. Flying J will pay for the remainder of the costs.
Kirkersville Mayor Terry Ashcraft said the village council would meet in executive session (closed to the public) soon to discuss the situation, but declined to comment further because the dispute is currently in litigation. Ohio law permits village governments to discuss legal issues in private session.
Mike Baker, chief of Ohio EPA’s Division of Drinking and Ground Waters, told council during its Oct. 7, 2009, meeting that the Flying J’s existing water system is “stretched beyond its capacity” and federal stimulus money may be available to pay for at least half the cost of a water line from Southwest Licking to the truck stop. Baker said the Ohio EPA has “concerns” with the Flying J’s existing water system and the village would be charged nothing to install the water line.
Council members who remembered a referendum to block Southwest Licking from providing public water to any of Kirkersville gave the Flying J proposal a chilly reception. They worried that once the Flying J had water, others would request it as well. Some council members believe public water promotes development and could endanger Kirkersville’s rural nature.