Warren County septic struggle moves to Ohio Supreme Court

The process used to permit a septic tank cleaning business to operate in a rural Warren County neighborhood undermines “the transparency and legitimacy of units of government throughout Ohio,” according to the lawyer taking the case to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Lawyer Roger Eckert, who lives on Beal Road near the Septek home office, made the claim in an appeal filed with the state's highest court Wednesday.

Eckert and his neighbors, including former Warren County Common Pleas Court Judge Daniel Fedders, are trying to overturn a decision three years ago by the county’s board of zoning appeals to issue a permit allowing the business to open on Beal Road.

They raised a variety of concerns to the zoning board. On Thursday, Eckert said the remaining problems stem from noise and traffic from the 24-hour operation.

RELATED: Neighbors work to keep out septic business

The decision has been upheld in Warren County by a retired Montgomery County judge appointed after all the local ones declined to hear the case because it involved Fedders. An appeals court in Portsmouth that took up the case for the local appeals court likewise rejected the appeal.

On Thursday, Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said Eckert’s latest legal filing was unlikely to convince the state’s high court to take up the case.

“The Supreme Court already held otherwise back in 1998 in the TBC Westlake case. Additionally, the appellant never raised that issue during either the administrative proceeding, nor in the appeal to the common pleas court. Thus, they waived it for the appeal to the 12th District and the Ohio Supreme Court,” Fornshell said in a text message.

The TBC case stemmed from a dispute between the Hamilton County auditor and Sycamore Community Schools over a property tax revision.

RELATED: Ohio Supreme Court to appoint judge in neighbor dispute

Earlier this week, Fedders issued a statement before Eckert’s filing, about he and his wife, Carol.

“We have decided not to appeal the unfavorable decision to the Ohio Supreme Court. We do intend to take other legal actions to protect our property and the surrounding neighborhood,” the Fedderses said in the statement.

The statement then noted Eckert’s appeal.

“If he is successful, that will benefit our property as well. Consequently, until his appeal is resolved, we will have no further comment on this matter,” it said.

Eckert, a former law director whose law license is inactive, claims the county process left him and a lawyer hired for the first appeal with nothing to work from. Dating back to 2012, Eckert said 25 of 26 applications for conditional uses like the one granted in the Septek case have been approved through Warren County’s process.

RELATED: Warren County septic business wins appeal in dispute with neighbors

Eckert, 75, said he brought the high-court appeal by himself because the other neighbors have been required to pay individual fees at the lower levels. As a result, they decided to let Eckert file on his own in the Supreme Court.

“Everybody is as incensed with the situation as they were at the beginning,” he said.

About the Author