By Kevin Kelley
Attorneys for the cities of Cleveland and Westlake were in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Nov. 20 following the suburb’s motion to block Cleveland’s imposition of additional fees associated with a possible departure of Westlake from the water system.
But any resolution to the simmering dispute appears to be at least three weeks away.
In addition to the Westlake attorneys, a dozen residents from the suburb came to the courtroom, ready to testify how the additional $291 quarterly fees set to be imposed over five years will harm them financially.
Following a lengthy meeting in the chambers of Judge Michael Astrab, a decision was made to neither grant nor deny Westlake’s request for a temporary restraining order against the new fees, Westlake law Director John Wheeler reported.
A temporary restraining order would only be valid for 14 days, Wheeler noted in brief comments to Westlake City Council members Thursday night.
No actions will be taken for now, Wheeler said. At the suggestion of Astrab, both municipalities will issue a joint press release advising the public of the current status of the dispute.
The judge has asked both parties in the case to refrain from arguing the case in the media.
A preliminary hearing on Westlake’s request to block the imposition of the new fees on its residents is scheduled for Dec. 23.
Westlake’s motion states there is no legal basis for Cleveland’s imposition of such charges and maintains that the suburb has not taken steps to disconnect from the Cleveland Division of Water system.
“Cleveland’s harassing conduct has caused anxiety, apprehension and angst among innocent Westlake residents,” the motion states.
Westlake has explored establishing its own water department and purchasing water from either Avon Lake Municipal Utilities, Cleveland’s Division of Water, or both.
Cleveland officials have said they will not allow costs associated with a departure of Westlake to be borne by its residents and other customers of its regional water system.