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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Unpaid EDUs lead county to threaten lien on Pines Plaza

(Jan. 15, 2015) The sale of the Pines Plaza Commercial Center on Cathell Road early last year was contingent on lowering the number of allocated Equivalent Dwelling Units, which are used to gauge sewer capacity.
The original allocation for the Pines Plaza and neighboring commercial properties was 110 but increased to 125 with the assimilation of the final properties in the area connected to the system.
To sell the property, the number of allocated EDUs was reduced to 64, reflecting the maximum allocation for the property at full capacity. In a letter dated Dec. 1 2014 and signed by Bob Waugh, vice president and chief operating officer of Pines Plaza Associates LLC, Waugh requests the number of EDUs be reduced to reflect actual usage — 24, plus an additional unit to cover possible expansion at the Dollar General Store.
The remaining EDUs allocated would be made available within the service area on a first come, first served basis.
Those 25 EDUs carried a cost of $132,500 that has not been paid, according to Robert Mitchell, director of environmental programs for Worcester County.
Mitchell said he was fine with the reduction, but wanted to see the bill paid first. The commissioners agreed, but struggled to find the proper phrasing for their request.
New Commissioners Chip Bertino and Ted Elder want to take a hard line on the delinquency, with Bertino suggesting “the strongest possible language” and Elder recommending a lien on the property in order to impress upon the owners the seriousness of the commissioner’s intent to collect.
A lien would hinder the ability for the property to be resold, since a seller needs a clear title. The lien also would have to be satisfied first before a sale could go through.
There was some debate among the commissioners as to what Bertino’s “strongest possible language” might entail.
“The tenants could pay the bill and deduct it from their rent,” County Attorney J. Sonny Bloxom said.
He observed that the landlord is probably collecting fees from the tenant to pay for water and sewer already.
Payment plans, offers to contact and negotiate directly and a direct appeal to the tenants were all considered, but Elder’s plan to impose a lien ultimately won the day.