Water lawsuit remains in mediation

Aug. 16, 2014 @ 05:52 PM

For the past eight months, lawyers representing Oxford, Henderson and Granville County have been working to resolve a lawsuit through discussion and avoid taking the matter to trial.

Since November, the three parties have been participating in court-ordered mediation.

The lawsuit filed by Oxford alleges the city should control and profit from water taps in Granville County, which purchased 1.5 million gallons of water per day from Henderson in 2011 for $9 million.

The 2011 deal was intended to provide water to the future tenants of Triangle North Granville, which is located off Interstate 85 at exit 206.

The Henderson City Council met in closed session on Monday to discuss the status of the lawsuit.

James C. Wrenn Jr. is representing Granville and Henderson. Gavin B. Parsons is representing Oxford.

Henderson’s attorney, John Zollicoffer, said the parties are continuing mediation but could not comment on specifics.

According to state law and N.C. Supreme Court’s Rules Implementing Mediated Settlement Conferences, mediated settlement is mandatory for civil actions pending in Superior Court.

If cases do not settle in mediation, the mediator will report an impasse to the court, and the matter will continue to trial.

“We don’t know if there will be a resolution in mediation, but we are hopeful,” Zollicoffer said. “We have been talking back and forth regularly.”

The plaintiff’s most recent request to extend mediation states that the three parties have been working continuously to resolve this matter and are close to doing so but will need additional time to obtain the necessary administrative and legislative approvals to finalize an agreement.

Judge John R. Jolly Jr., the chief special Superior Court judge for complex business cases, granted the extension until Sept. 22.

According to Zollicoffier, the location of the water taps is a central question in the lawsuit.

The fourth amendment to the 1973 Kerr Lake Regional Water System Agreement — a contract between Oxford, Henderson and Warren County — grants the plaintiff, Oxford, a right to control the taps and collect revenues from Granville customers.

But the fourth amendment also states that this right is not effective until Henderson determines that the regional water system has sufficient funds to pay for moving the Oxford meter within county lines, which Henderson maintains has not been done.

The defendant’s motion to dismiss the complaint cites the water agreement between Henderson and Granville that specifies the point of sale for water in Vance County.

 

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.