Last updated: August 23. 2013 9:47PM - 179 Views

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LIMA — Legal maneuvering continued Thursday in a long-running dispute between landowners and Allen County commissioners over estimated assessments to pay for a ditch project first approved by commissioners in 2009.

It all stems from an Allen Soil and Water Conservation District improvement project, known as the Wrasman Project, that is planned west of Elida from McBride Road north to state Route 309. The dispute began in 2009 after Allen County commissioners approved the project and the $371,000 cost estimate as prepared by soil and water district officials.

Landowners Stanley and Kim Brenneman, and their business Brenneman Brothers Partnership, objected to the assessments. Following a hearing, commissioners upheld the project and moved to establish a schedule for the assessments. Following years of litigation, the issue returned to the commissioners this year, who once again approved the project. Following a hearing on the objections of the Brennemans, the commissioners once again upheld the project, prompting a new court challenge to the project.

On Thursday, Judge Jeffrey Reed heard testimony and arguments in Allen County Common Pleas Court to supplement previously filed written arguments in the case.

“The actual objection presented to the commissioners was the proposed assessments and improvements set forth in the legal notice which is attached to the objection for the particular parcel was not properly handled, that the commissioners’ decision on that objection was arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable and in one instance illegal,” Michael Rumer, attorney for the Brennemans, said. “The appeal today is going to the appropriateness of the resolution that was adopted by the commissioners overruling or denying the objections that were filed in this case.”

Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Antalis, representing the county commissioners, said commissioners acted appropriately and lawfully in overruling the objections.

“What we’re here to defend was the decision of the commissioners supported by the evidence in the record. What actually happened at the objection hearing, and the objection hearing was very brief … on behalf of the appellants in this case not a single witness was produced. Not one,” Antalis said. “Instead, Mr. Rumer got up and made argument and submitted a couple documents and that was the essence of the objections. So really all the commissioners had to vote on at that time was what Mr. Rumer produced by way of exhibits and evidence and the commissioners voted to deny the objections.”

Reed is expected to hear additional arguments and testimony in the case in January before ruling on a motion to dismiss the appeal filed on behalf of the commissioners.

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