Oxford files lawsuit against Henderson, Granville, Warren

Oct. 23, 2013 @ 09:29 PM

The City of Oxford has filed a lawsuit in N.C. Business Court naming the City of Henderson, Granville County and Warren County.

At issue are the rights and responsibilities within an agreement of the Kerr Lake Regional Water System.

Oxford filed the lawsuit on Aug. 27, claiming a deal between Henderson and Granville County violated an amendment to the Kerr Lake Regional Water System agreement. A Nov. 5 court date has been set, which is Election Day.

Jim Crawford Jr., a candidate for mayor in Oxford, is running against incumbent Jackie Sergent and current commissioner Howard Herring Sr. A full-page advertisement in Monday’s edition of the Oxford Ledger contained reference to the lawsuit.

The water system partnership between Oxford, Henderson and Warren County is 40 years old. Under the agreement, Henderson is entitled to receive 60 percent of the drinking water and operate the system on behalf of Oxford and Warren County, which each have 20 percent interest in the drinking water.

The fourth amendment to the regional water system agreement states Oxford has the right to control all taps and collect revenues from all customers located in Granville.

The lawsuit alleges that the Utilities Sales Agreement between Henderson and Granville violates Oxford’s right to collect money for drinking water that originates from the water system and is consumed in Granville County.

In December of 2011, Henderson and Granville County entered into the Utility Sales Agreement that guaranteed a reservation of 1.5 million gallons of water per day from Kerr Lake Regional Water Treatment Facility to Granville for use only in the county’s Triangle North facility, at a cost of $9 million.

Triangle North Granville, one of the parks in the four-county network, is a 527-acre park adjacent to Vance-Granville Community College.

The lawsuit argues the transactions made in the Utility Sales Agreement are a “sham” and claims Henderson “is attempting to do indirectly what it cannot do directly — collect revenue from the sale of water from the (Kerr Lake Regional Water System) that will be consumed in Granville County.”

James Wrenn Jr., attorney representing Henderson and Granville County, wrote in an email that his clients deny all the allegations made in the complaint.

“We will file our responsive pleading by early next week,” he wrote in the Wednesday email to The Dispatch.

Gavin Parson, attorney for Oxford, said the lawsuit is requesting the court to determine the rights and responsibilities of Oxford, Henderson and Granville as expressed in the fourth amendment to the regional water system agreement.

The lawsuit does not demand specific monetary compensation from the defendants.

Warren County is also a defendant in the lawsuit, but Parson said his client is not seeking anything from Warren.

“Because they are part of the water agreement, they have to be part of the lawsuit,” Parson said.

The matter will come before the North Carolina Business Court in Raleigh on Nov. 5.


Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.