Trustee has improper sewer connection

WARREN — The Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office is weighing in on an improper sanitary sewer line connection for a building in Cortland owned by Bazetta Trustee Paul Hovis.

Hovis said he bought 37 acres behind his 2517 Northview Drive home and built an outbuilding. When he had a plumber over to help correct a sewer line issue that was causing poor flushing in his house, the two put in a “t” pipe, extending the sanitary lines from his house by about 225 feet.

“I had a licensed and bonded sewer guy fixing the pipe. So, I said, ‘So I don’t have to go to the bathroom outside when I am out there, I can run a pipe in case I want a bathroom instead of just going outside.’ He said, ‘Yea, we can do that.’ And so we ran a pipe and put it through the floor and tapped into my sewer line. It was all on my property, I didn’t think anything about it,” Hovis said.

That was around 2012, Hovis said.

But, Ohio law demands a permit and other processes be followed for connecting sewer lines.

“The connection was made without the owner securing the necessary permit,” states a letter from Trumbull County deputy sanitary engineer Gary Newbrough to Trumbull County commissioners. “After speaking with the prosecutor’s office in mid-November, a formal request seeking guidance was sent Nov. 20, 2018. From the perspective of this department, several options exist as to possible remedies regarding this situation. Prior to any action on this matter, this department is of the opinion it would be prudent to have the prosecutor’s opinion as to the appropriate course of resolution.”

Hovis said he will work to comply with the Trumbull County Sanitary Engineer’s Department, but said he will fight one of the options and has hired an attorney, just in case. That option is for Hovis to connect the bathroom line in the outbuilding to the sanitary sewer line running north and south on state Route 46, where an existing county line travels.

“I can tell you right now, I am not tapping into 46 and paying all the fees they want me to,” Hovis said.

Hovis said he can’t be forced to tap into the line on state Route 46 because the building is 1,400 feet from the road.

“If you are more than 250 feet from a sewer line, they can’t force you to tap in,” Hovis said.

Hovis said he is considering getting the parcels combined, but may want to keep the property separate in case he ever wants to sell it. Another option he will entertain is applying for an easement to allow the line to travel back to the outbuilding from his house.

Another option is just to cut off the connection completely.

It is unclear if Hovis will owe any fines for not applying for the permit originally.

“At the end of the day, the most important factor is that everyone in a like situation is treated the same. We are trying to ascertain the proper way to proceed according to the regulations, but those are not always clear,” said Trumbull County Engineer Randy Smith. “This can all be corrected and will be corrected. Once we hear back from the prosecutor, we will move forward with whatever that entails.”