Legal Update, October 9, 2019
JCV vs. ROCKWOOL ET AL. (PILOT CASE)
Summary — On November 2, 2018 JCV filed the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the PILOT arrangement and asserting that Rockwool should not be given preferential treatment and should pay their fair share of taxes just like other Jefferson County taxpayers.
Latest Updates —On June 6, 2019 Judge Hammer heard arguments regarding the PILOT lawsuit and on August 8 issued his decision which stated that “[t]he Court agrees with the plaintiff’s contention that the PILOT is defective on its face: The only two essential parties to the PILOT are Rockwool and the JCDA. Absent the JCDA’s assent evidenced by a vote of its board, the PILOT is not an enforceable agreement – it is merely a proposal.” JCV is pleased with Judge Hammer’s decision in this matter since it held that the PILOT agreement was invalid even without needing to reach the issue of constitutionality.
JCV vs. RANSON CITY COUNCIL (ZONING CASE)
Summary — On December 13, 2018 JCV filed a lawsuit against the Ranson City Council asserting that changes made to Ranson’s zoning to permit industrial uses at Jefferson Orchards are invalid due to the failure to provide public notice as required by state law.
Latest Updates — On June 6, 2019 Judge Hammer heard arguments regarding the zoning case. The judge has not yet issued a decision in the case.
JCV vs. JCDA (WATER LINE CASE)
Summary – On September 17, 2018 JCV filed a “Complaint for Injunctive Relief” petitioning the Court for an injunction to stop the Jefferson County Development Authority (JCDA) from taking any further actions regarding the approval and funding of the Jefferson Orchard Water Line Extension Project. JCV asserted that the JCDA violated state law and acted beyond its jurisdiction when it took actions to fund and/or begin construction of the waterline project before it had obtained a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity as required by state law.
Latest Updates — JCV submitted a motion to dismiss this matter as moot based upon the JCDA’s withdrawal from the water line project. All parties agreed the case is moot and the case has been dismissed.
JCV vs. CITY OF CHARLES TOWN (THE BLUE PETITION CASE)
Summary — On June 17, 2019 JCV filed a “Writ of Mandamus and Prohibition” requesting that the Court order the City of Charles Town to comply with applicable state laws regarding the verified Protest Petition (aka the “Blue Petition”) presented by JCV on behalf of Charles Town residents to block support for a sewer pipeline for Rockwool in the absence of a super majority of the Charles Town City Council voting for it.
Latest Updates —The Court will hold a hearing on the Blue Petition case on October 28, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. at the Jefferson County Courthouse.
JCV vs. THE CITY OF RANSON (VERTICAL WALL PERMIT CASE)
Summary — On September 17, 2019 JCV filed a “Petition for Writ of Mandamus” requesting that the Court order the City of Ranson to comply with applicable laws relating to the issuance of building permits to Rockwool. JCV contends that since sewer service has not been confirmed, Ranson should revoke Rockwool’s building permit; otherwise, they are not in compliance with Ranson City Code.
Latest Updates — On September 24, 2019 the Judge granted Rockwool’s motion to intervene in the case. We are still awaiting a notice for a hearing on this case.
JCV vs. PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION OF WEST VIRGINIA (PSC CASE)
Summary — On July 12, 2018 the PSC approved Jefferson Utilities Inc.’s (JUI) application for an emergency certificate of convenience and necessity to extend water service to Rockwool — without a public hearing or public input. The PSC’s approval was conditioned on JUI’s petitioning to reopen the matter if there were any changes to the project (i.e. scope, financing); however, JUI did not do so. On January 23, 2019 JCV filed a complaint to the PSC asserting that the scope of Rockwool’s project had changed and that JUI should have filed a petition to reopen as required by the PSC’s July 2018 approval. JCV’s complaint was dismissed by the PSC on August 2, 2019.
Latest Update — On September 3, 2019 JCV appealed the PSC’s decision to dismiss the complaint to the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia and the Court has scheduled a hearing for January 15, 2020.