Hudson was out.
And now it’s in.
In a court decision that disappointed city leaders and pleased the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas judge ruled this week that Hudson is a member of the sewer district after all.
That means many — but not all — Hudson property owners are subject to a new, controversial stormwater fee the district will impose.
Common Pleas Judge Thomas Pokorny added Hudson into the district — after excluding the community last year — as part of a ruling that reaffirmed the district’s authority to create its stormwater program and impose the fee on its member communities.
The judge also ordered the Cleveland-based district to make several changes to the program, including boosting the percentage of money that would be returned to individual communities for their own projects, creating a cap or sliding scale for fees for nonresidential customers and developing stormwater-related curriculum for schools.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed that we were found to be part of the district and we would disagree,” city spokeswoman Jody Roberts said Thursday.
She said city leaders are reviewing the ruling and their options.
Spokeswoman Jennifer Elting said the district is moving forward with its program, which was first announced in 2008. Many Cuyahoga and Summit County communities and groups objected initially, and the program has been on hold because of the ongoing legal battle.
The stormwater program now is slated to start Jan. 1, Elting said. Property owners will see the stormwater fee on bills next year.
Under the program — designed to address flooding, erosion and water-quality problems in the region — most homeowners would pay $57 a year. Commercial and industrial property owners would pay much more. The fees are based on the amount of impervious surface area, such as parking lots and roofs, that contribute to storm drainage.
District officials have estimated the program will raise $38 million in the first year.
Summit County Assistant Prosecutor Mike Todd said he was pleased the judge recognized the need for a fee cap for nonresidential properties and for giving more cash back to communities. The changes will save businesses money and provide more cash to communities for stormwater work, he said.
Under the district proposal, communities would have received 7.5 percent of the fees their residents contributed. The judge wants to see that increased to 25 percent.
Todd estimated that Summit County communities would contribute about $2.1 million for the program, meaning that about $500,000 would be returned for local projects.
The district is working on those changes requested by the judge, Elting said. The court will hold a hearing on the proposed changes in the next 30 days.
The sewer district covers more than 1 million people in the Cleveland region, including many northern communities in Summit County.
Pokorny has ruled the district cannot force the plan onto all 11 Summit County communities that have been fighting the effort. Bath Township, Boston Heights, Northfield Center Township, Richfield Township, Twinsburg and Twinsburg Township are excluded.
Hudson, Macedonia, Northfield, Richfield and Sagamore Hills Township are covered by the district, according to the judge.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or email@example.com.