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Utility districts holds position on Shipshewana project easements


The LaGrange County Regional Utility District maintained its position on property owners in the Shipshewana West project area that have not signed the blanket easement.

At the June meeting, the board voted to give the remaining property owners that had not signed the easement agreement until June 26 to sign, or have the project bypass their property.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the board had a request from one property owner, Joe Mast, to sign the easement past the deadline.

It was noted that one easement had been allowed following the deadline, but that had been due to extenuating circumstances involving the family.

The board discussed whether or not to allow Mast to sign and what effect that would have on the project and what would happen if other property owners came to the board with the same request.

The district’s legal counsel John Gastineau told the board that the district’s position was on record and in place regarding the deadline set in June.

“This board has had allegations thrown at us of inconsistency,” noted Board President Mike Sutter. He added that if the board were to change on the issue of the easements, it would be “a blatant inconsistency.”

The board took no action on the request, effectively denying it.

The board had been presented earlier with a change order request that would remove the properties from the project. The board approved the revised change order, leaving the Mast property on the list of properties to be bypassed. The change order removed the grinder pumps, service line, and electrical line from the project, for a cost deduction of around $60,000.

Project Engineer Steve Henschen told the board that construction continues on pace for an early October completion. The project is roughly 15 percent complete from a cost standpoint, he added.

In other Shipshewana West project business, the board denied a request from Ronald York to be allowed to utilize his septic system as a “rain barrel” after it had been disabled to be used for watering purposes. The board questioned how a disabled septic tank could be used to hold water.