Geneva developer, water district now suing each other
A simmering dispute between Geneva developer Kent Shodeen and the Mill Creek Water Reclamation District could soon be approaching a rapid boil.
Shodeen recently filed a lawsuit in Kane County court seeking payment for some 160 million gallons of reclaimed wastewater used to irrigate the Mill Creek and Tanna Farms golf courses each year.
Shodeen's attorneys argue the district agreed in a 1995 lease to pay a yearly fee to discharge reclaimed water from lagoons that treat wastewater and sewage from the nearly 2,000-home development in Geneva and Blackberry Township. Discharging the water is a key element in breaking down wastewater and sewage.
Shodeen attorney Edward Filer wrote in the lawsuit that the district had not paid Shodeen since April 30, 2012, and owes at least $100,000.
"The district has repeatedly trespassed upon on the property of Tanna Farms and Mill Creek Country Club and has entered onto it or caused wastewater that it discharged to enter on it, all without legal justification, and Tanna Farms and Mill Creek Country Club are entitled to be made whole," according to the lawsuit.
Filer and another attorney for Shodeen, Adam Toosley, did not return multiple messages. A message left for Kent Shodeen also was not returned.
Shodeen's litigation comes in response to a lawsuit filed by the water district in December.
That lawsuit asked a judge to issue a permanent injunction to let the district continue to discharge water onto the golf courses for irrigation purposes -- without paying Shodeen. The lawsuit argued Shodeen was getting irrigation water at an extremely reduced rate -- including during the 2012 drought -- and the reclaimed water, although not fit for human consumption, was essential for each golf course.
The district's lawsuit also asked a judge to void the 1995 lease agreement because two of Shodeen's relatives and an employee were on the reclamation district's board when it was signed.
"They were the people that became the board and there was no one else to be a check on that. That's why we filed our lawsuit. We think it was inappropriate from the get-go," said Tim Reuland, attorney for the water district, who added the board is now appointed by Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen.
The lawsuit argues Shodeen had profited by charging connection fees to new customers and had been paid more than $2.3 million by the district through 2012 to allow the water to be used to irrigate the courses. The suit also asks that the district be able to irrigate without a fee, collect money from connection fees, and have a say in future annexations of homes and businesses into the wastewater district.
The lawsuit predicted dire consequences if the water reclamation district were not allowed to discharge the water.
"Wastewater would overflow the banks of the district's lagoons (treatment cells and reservoirs), flood adjacent properties and public rights-of-way, and enter the Mill Creek stormwater system, eventually polluting not only the retention basins within the Mill Creek subdivision, but also the watercourse commonly known as Mill Creek and its tributaries," the lawsuit states.
It also says such a move could cause sewer backups for homeowners.
Water district trustees outlined their position on the district's website, saying they worked for three years trying to resolve the matter but have reached an impasse that is "insurmountable."
The two sides are next due in court on Aug. 7.