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Group sues Weber over sewer

WEST HAVEN — The leader of a group called the Citizens Advocate has filed a civil lawsuit against the three Weber County commissioners in an effort to stop construction of a sewer line through rural Weber County.

The Petition for Order Requiring Administrative Process to Proceed According to Law maintains the County Commission failed to represent the incorporated farming communities where residents oppose sewer installation.

The suit asks 2nd District Judge Michael Lyon to order "that further construction and project activities concerning the West Haven and Central Weber Sewer Districts cease and desist until all administrative remedies have been exhausted." It was filed Tuesday, six days after sewer construction began. Digging will continue unless Lyon signs the order and halts construction.

Farmers and rural communities in unincorporated West Weber Valley and West Haven city have long existed with septic tanks instead of sewer lines.

West Haven leaders, however, have lobbied for the system so their city can expand.

The city created the West Haven Sanitary Sewer District to work with the existing Central Weber Sewer Improvement District, which has agreed to build a connecting line between West Haven and its water treatment plant. The line will run through unincorporated rural land, and the County Commission signed an interlocal agreement with West Haven's district stating they would force anyone living within 300 feet of the sewer to connect.

The state Division of Water Quality also supports the sewer and has listed the area as Utah's No. 1 sewer need. Walt Baker, manager of construction assistance for the division, said the sewer is needed because failing septic tanks often cause a stinky health hazard in the rural area. The state has offered a $21.7 million interest-free loan to speed construction.

The rural residents of unincorporated West Weber who oppose the sewer believe the line will lead to suburban sprawl and end their rural lifestyle.

Last week more than a dozen representatives of the rural areas attended a County Commission meeting to request that the commission delay sewer construction until public hearings could be held. The farmers argued that their concerns hadn't been heard since they didn't belong to either sewer district.

The next day, however, the commission issued construction permits allowing contractors to break ground on the sewer line, which they did last week. Central Weber Sewer District still has not secured all necessary easements, so they're building on areas where they have secured easements.

Chuck Eddy, who heads the Citizens Advocate, said he had no choice but to file the suit, which names commissioners Camille Cain, Ken Bischoff and Glen Burton as defendants. In addition to stopping construction, the suit seeks to halt Central Weber from securing construction easements across farms whose owners oppose the sewer. The district still needs about seven easements, although contractors have already been digging in areas where right of way is secure.

The suit is "pretty frivolous," Bischoff said. "This is a fellow that just has a lot of heartburn over the sewer. I would not take what he says in there at face value. . . . I found it a little bit amusing."