Ohio Public Law Update: Water/Sewer Decision

    View Author November 2004
    Court of Appeals Water/Sewer Decision is Victory for Municipal Annexation Rights

    The Ohio Court of Appeals (6th Appellate District, Wood County) decision issued on September 30, 2004 in Bakies, et al. v. City of Perrysburg, et al. represents a victory for municipalities and reaffirms the rights of cities to condition water and sewer services to extraterritorial users on annexation.

    Specifically, the court held that, except where it has an unconditional contractual obligation to provide such services, a city has the authority to cease providing water and sewer services to users who do not agree to annex as required by municipal ordinance or an annexation agreement. The court found that the city's ordinances were sufficient to provide the extraterritorial users with "constructive notice" of the annexation condition, even where such ordinances were adopted by the city after the users had been receiving services for many years. Any oral agreements the city may have had regarding the provision of services were reasonably terminated by the city when the ordinances requiring annexation came into effect. The court also found that the city's goals for annexation – to grow and expand its tax base – "are legitimate city interests." In addition, the fact that the city planned to annex certain areas in phases did not make the city's annexation plan discriminatory. The court distinguished or disagreed with prior Ohio Court of Appeals decisions in City of Sylvania and City of Xenia, which previously chipped away at municipalities' rights in these areas.

    If you have any questions or would like to discuss this decision in more detail, please contact Vince Atriano (vatriano@squirepb.com, +1.614.365.2783), Kendra Sherman (ksherman@squirepb.com, +1.614.365.2726), or any of the public law lawyers listed in this email.