Oberlin is suing the Lorain County Joint Vocational School, saying educators there refuse to honor an agreement made in 1971.
City law director Jon Clark filed the suit last Thursday. It claims the JVS entered into an agreement during construction 44 years ago to receive city sewer services even though it is located outside the municipality.
In return, the school’s 133 acres would be annexed if the city limits ever stretched far enough south to swallow any land directly bordering the JVS.
City manager Eric Norenberg said farmland across Rt. 58 from the vocational school was brought into Oberlin in 2007, making the school a neighbor.
“Oberlin would not have provided sanitary sewer services to the property unless JVS agreed to the annexation provision in the sewer agreement,” the lawsuit says.
“This is about the JVS fulfilling their terms of the contract,” Norenberg told the News-Tribune. “There have been a lot of things where the city of Oberlin and various departments have collaborated with the JVS as if it was in our city limits.”
JVS superintendent Glenn Faircloth and board of education president Rex Engle received an annexation petition from Clark last August.
The school refused to sign the petition.
“The JVS has claimed that it may not be legally bound by the 1971 agreement and that it is not interested in making or receiving any proposal to or from the city to conclude the annexation,” Norenberg said in an email.
If the property is annexed, the school would receive lower water and sewer rates and services from local police and fire departments.
It would also have to pay income tax to the city, however.
City officials are asking judge Raymond Ewers to force the JVS to honor the contract, sign the annexation petition, and award unspecified damages.
Faircloth did not return calls seeking comment.
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.