West Chester business improperly tapped into water service

An inspection by Butler County Water and Sewer led to the discovery of an unauthorized water service line at a West Chester Twp. business.

According to Bob Leventry, county water and sewer department director, a 1-inch water service line was found going into the Station Road Farm property along Cincinnati-Dayton Road.

“We were doing a routine inspection of the property to determine if there was proper backflow prevention when we found the unauthorized, unpermitted and unmetered connection,” Leventry said.

The property owner, Steve Binder, told officials he thought a contractor had taken care of the proper permits and paperwork when the connection was made.

Leventry said his department believes the unauthorized water service was connected sometime in March 2005 when the water main was constructed.

“This doesn’t happen a lot,” Leventry said. “This is extremely unusual.”

A restitution bill for $43,000, which includes a $1,000 fine, has been sent to the business, according to Leventry. A proper permit for the water service line was approved Tuesday. He said they are following county procedure in sending the bill, but if it goes unpaid, the matter could be referred to the county prosecutor as a criminal action. Leventry said he cannot recall ever using the criminal procedure.

Binder told the Journal-News that a portion of land from where the service line connected to the water main was sold to a developer who was putting in a subdivision about 13 years ago. However, when the housing market crashed, he said that developer went bankrupt. As far as Binder knew, the contractor working on that subdivision had taken care of the permits and paperwork with the county, he said.

He said the line was used to provide water for that portion of the farm and a nursery and that it was used for drinking water, washing hands and filling sprayers.

“We’ll never know for real how much water was used (out of that line),” Binder said. “The bottom line is that I’m stuck paying the bills. I’m the land owner and the buck stops with me.”

Binder said a meter will be put on the line.

“I want to get everything resolved and solved,” he said. “I want to move on.”

On June 30, West Chester police and other law enforcement agencies were tipped that an illegal fireworks store was operating at the business. Police found what was described as an “extremely large cache” of professional-level fireworks that had an estimated value of $300,000.

Barb Wilson, township spokeswoman, said late Wednesday that case remains under investigation.