Hobart mulls ending dispute with Gary over plans to build sewage treatment plant

2012-11-17T19:25:00Z 2012-11-17T20:08:28Z Hobart mulls ending dispute with Gary over plans to build sewage treatment plantDeborah Laverty deborah.laverty@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2223 nwitimes.com

HOBART | Plans to construct a wastewater treatment plant in Hobart have been in the works for close to 16 years.

It's an estimated $20 million project that remains on the city's five-year planning list but one stuck in the 1990s because of ongoing litigation, city officials said.

City Attorney Anthony DeBonis updated the status at a recent meeting.

"Stay tuned. There's still litigation preventing us from going forward," DeBonis said.

Although the Indiana Supreme Court ruled earlier this year in favor of Hobart and against Gary, there is a second pending case before Marion Superior Court, DeBonis said.

That May 17 Indiana Supreme Court ruling concluded that the Indiana Department of Environmental Management was in accordance with the law when issuing Hobart a permit to operate a new wastewater treatment plant.

The second pending court case issued by Gary is similar to the suit won, DeBonis said.

"You'd think it would be the same, but Gary has said not," DeBonis said.

The Hobart Sanitary District in mid-August of 1996 upped the ante in its negotiations with the Gary Sanitary District by unveiling plans to build a wastewater treatment plant to serve all or parts of the city.

The Hobart sanitary board had battled its Gary counterpart since 1992 regarding the rates Gary had demanded for treating Hobart's sewage, officials said.

Plans to build the plant on a 5-acre parcel north of U.S. 30 and north of North Ridge Shopping Plaza were initially opposed by Lake Station residents, who filed suit over environmental concerns.

Lake Station was later joined in litigation filed by the city of Gary and the Gary Sanitary District in opposition to IDEM issuing Hobart a permit.

City Council President David Vinzant said the city's hands are tied until ongoing litigation is settled.

"We want the opportunity to decide if we want a plant or not. We don't want someone else to say we can't," Vinzant said.

Given the changes in administration in Gary, Vinzant said now may be the time to sit down with officials and work things out.

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