Settlement saves diner in Kinsman

WARREN – A court dispute between the state and a mom-and-pop-style diner in northern Trumbull County over sewage problems there has been settled, the business’ operator and attorney for the building’s owner say.

The agreement saves the iconic business from shutting down, the operator said.

Specific details of the agreement between the operator and owner of Times Square Restaurant and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office weren’t available Thursday.

Some sort of fine will still be paid, but the attorney for building owner Richard Thompson hinted it would be much less than the $70,000 that had been sought.

”Let’s put it this way, it’s a very good settlement,” said Steve Haughey of Frost, Brown Todd LLC in Cincinnati.

The settlement reached Monday should be finalized by mid-week next week, heading off a mediation hearing scheduled for March in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.

The lawsuit claimed that Thompson and business operators Carol and Ken Wilson let raw or partially treated sewage flow from the building on state Route 7 in Kinsman into a tributary of Pymatuning Creek without a permit and, in doing so, created a nuisance that violated water quality standards. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency also accused the three of modifying the system without first getting a permit to do so.

The complaint says the violations happened from July 2008 through October 2011, which covers the time from when Thompson bought the property at a sheriff’s sale to when he and the Wilsons installed a $21,000 Ohio EPA-approved disposal system.

The settlement put forth by the state was $70,000, which the Ohio EPA wanted paid even though the problem had been fixed. The attorney general’s office was brought into the matter because an agreement on the fine could not be reached. Thompson offered to pay $3,500.

After-hours messages Thursday seeking comment with spokesmen for the Ohio EPA and attorney general’s office were not returned.

The proposed fined was an amount business operator Carol Wilson said would have put the little diner, part of the foundation of the community for more than six decades, out of business. Now, her worries are lessened, but won’t be entirely over, she said, until the settlement is final.

She said Thursday she was prepared for the March 11 court hearing and had reserved a bus to take supporters of the diner to the hearing. Wilson also had a petition signed by 769 people who supported the effort to save the restaurant.

”I feel really good. I’m glad it’s over,” Wilson said.

Also part of the tentative deal, some money will be paid to charity, Wilson said.