Water War Update: City Council Rejects Fairfax Offer
After meeting in closed session, the Falls Church City Council last night rejected a May 21 counter-offer from the Fairfax County Water Authority (FCWA) to resolve the ongoing litigation between the parties. The vote was unanimous (6-0), with Mayor Gardner absent from the proceedings.
The Council’s motion, the full text of which appears below, further instructed City Attorney John Foster to make an offer to FCWA and to Fairfax County and its Board of Supervisors. The County and the Board were not named as third parties in the lawsuit until so ordered by Judge Leslie Allen on May 22 and thus were not parties to FCWA’s counter-offer of the previous day.
No details of FCWA’s counter-offer or the City’s latest offer were released. It is unclear how swiftly the Fairfax parties will respond to the City. Trial has been scheduled for September 14.
The initial litigation over water rights began in 2007 when Falls Church sued the Authority in Federal court, claiming FCWA was precluded from delivering water to Fairfax County residents in an area historically served by the City. That lawsuit was rejected at both the Federal District and Appellate Court levels.
Last December, FCWA sued Falls Church City on state antitrust grounds, alleging the city was acting in an anti-competitive manner by refusing to agree to let a developer move its water lines unless the developer hooked up to the Falls Church system. In May Falls Church counter-sued and joined the the County and the Board to the case, alleging improper use of the County’s regulatory power to force the developer to hook up to the Fairfax system.
The Council motion, introduced by Mr. Webb and seconded by Mr. Snyder, with Mr. Lippman presiding:
Mr. Vice Mayor, I move that the City Council authorize the City Attorney, in consultation with outside counsel at the law firm of Reed Smith, to reject the counter-offer from the Fairfax County Water Authority in Fairfax County Water Authority v. City of Falls Church, Case No. 2008-16114, as stated in its letter dated May 21, 2009, and to make an offer to the Fairfax County Water Authority and to Fairfax County and the Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County, all according to the terms and conditions discussed in Closed Session.
The Falls Church Times has featured both reporting and commentary on the ”Water War” between Falls Church and Fairfax County:
[April 16] Part 1: A Tale of Two Lawsuits
[April 21] Part 3: An Appeal Denied
[April 23] Part 4: The Authority Strikes Back
By Stan Fendley, Falls Church City
June 2, 2009