A proposed class action settlement agreement has been reached in a long running legal dispute between Brighton Township and sewer system users, who are less than satisfied with the outcome.

The township’s sewer system has been under fire for many years, with original users alleging they’ve been overcharged in assessment fees. A lawsuit against the township was filed by residents demanding a refund. The recent settlement was negotiated by the township, the class action legal teams and a court appointed mediator.

Terms call for the township to pay $1.5 (m) million from the general fund to a sewer settlement fund for a payout to original users. The township will also purchase 401 REU’s, with dollars coming from the general fund. When those REU’s are sold, then the revenue that comes in will go back to the general fund. $300,000 will come out of the township general fund to pay for litigation costs and the township also agrees to cancel future $80.50 quarterly charges for class members forever.

Township Manager Brian Vick tells WHMI the township firmly denies the charges have any basis and denies any wrongdoing.
He says the township denies that any of the charges were improper, denies that it intentionally or negligently committed any unlawful, wrongful or tortious acts or omissions. The township further maintains the claims asserted in the lawsuit have no substance or fact but agreed to enter into the settlement agreement to avoid further expense, inconveniences, distraction and risks of burdensome and protracted litigation. Vick says the financial health of the sewer system will be tracking in the right direction, and it has been since 2010, and this is another step in that direction. He noted two developments have already been approved in excess of 401 REU’s. An agreement calls for the developer of one project to purchase 222 REU’s within the next 15 months.

Those who initiated the suit say they were not permitted to participate in final decisions and have not agreed or signed off on anything. Resident Bob Potocki tells WHMI they’re going to explore every option and try to figure out how to oppose this settlement and continue the fight to get fair treatment for all Brighton Township residents and sewer users. Potocki says the settlement is hardly something he could be happy about or any of the sewer users could be satisfied with. He says it’s merely an attempt to change how the money is charged to sewer uses but there is still no relief for sewer uses in the settlement. Potocki says its 103 pages of legal mumbo-jumbo that no one should be fooled by.

A court hearing is scheduled in April, at which time the proposed settlement will be before a judge for potential approvals. (JM)