Lawyer considers criminal charges for Ralph Zeigler
KINGWOOD — An attorney for the Town of Reedsville said he plans to talk with the prosecutor about possible criminal charges against a developer sued by the town two years ago.
Reedsville filed suit against developer Ralph W. Zeigler, individually and as a member of EZ Development Co. LLC, and Preston Meadows Property Owners Association in September 2018.
The town is asking the court to order the defendants to stop violating town ordinances by discharging storm water into the sanitary sewers.
The water is called I & I, or “inflow and infiltration.” The EDA ordered treatment systems nationwide to remove I & I from their systems by 2021 or face fines.
At a hearing Wednesday in Preston Circuit Court, Reedsville’s attorney, Mark Gaydos, told Preston Circuit Judge Steve Shaffer, “The Town of Reedsville feels for the people of this community.”
Its feelings for Zeigler are less warm, he noted. According to the attorney, Zeigler has been collecting homeowner fees, even though the homeowner’s association has been in default with the secretary of state’s office since 2008, and has done nothing to correct the problem.
Neither Zeigler nor an attorney representing him has appeared at any of the hearings in the case. Shaffer noted Zeigler has not filed an answer to the suit either.
Zeigler’s collection of fees for a defunct homeowner’s association is why he plans to speak with the prosecutor, Gaydos said.
He will ask new Prosecutor Jay Shay to look “into the use of these funds and see if there is any illegal activity.” Gaydos quoted Senior Status Judge Larry Starcher as once saying, “A little bit of criminal charges tends to shake the money tree.”
Judge Shaffer was troubled by there being no paperwork in the court filed to prove Reedsville had served the companies with the suit. There was a return of service on Zeigler in the file.
Gaydos said the companies had been personally served and had a bill from the process server showing service. Shaffer asked him to get an affidavit from the process server, verifying service.
Reedsville’s sewage is treated by Masontown. In 2018, Reedville passed along increased rates to its customers after Masontown raised its rates because of the I & I going to the treatment plant through sewer lines.
The water can come from gutters and drains directed to the sewers, leaking manholes and broken pipes.
“Flow meter readings show that nearly twice the amount of water used by residents in Preston Meadows is going into the sewage system during periods of heavy rain,” the town says in the suit.
As previously reported, Masontown told Reedsville that two-thirds of the I & I going to its treatment plant came through Reeds-ville. The flow was not metered at the time. Now Reedsville pays based on the actual numbers of gallons that flow to Masontown, necessitating the rate increase.
The next hearing in the case is set for March.