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Town of Leland Rejects H2GO’s Fair and Equitable Settlement Proposal

2/21/2020 3:41:34 PM

LELAND, NC – On January 24, 2020, after agreeing to abide by the Superior Court’s April 2019 ruling, H2GO delivered a settlement proposal to the Towns of Leland and Belville.  In the proposal, H2GO proposed the Town of Belville would return the assets to H2GO transferred in 2017; H2GO would pay Leland $800,000 towards costs and attorney fees; all the parties would drop their appeals; and all parties would agree to not obstruct the construction of H2GO aquifer-sourced reverse osmosis plant. The Town of Belville supported the settlement proposal in late January.

Earlier today, the Town of Leland rejected this fair-and-equitable settlement proposal in a five-page response letter that did anything but address delivering clean water to the customers of H2GO. In the letter, Leland makes it clear that attorney’s fees and annexation are more important to its leadership than the construction of the H2GO RO Plant.

Leland’s letter states that all parties should consider a previous annexation proposal that was already rejected by the former H2GO Board, which had an anti-RO majority. Former Chairman Jeff Gerken publicly stated in October 2019 that because Belville was against the annexation proposal cited today by Leland, “we have no alternative but to declare that proposed solution dead.” Leland’s press release today states there was a tentative agreement between the parties. No such agreement ever took place.

While the Town of Leland’s decision is no surprise, H2GO is disappointed that its rational and reasonable settlement proposal was completely rejected.  After all, H2GO’s proposal parallels the Court’s April 2019 ruling, which Leland previously praised and cited in their letter today.

“We’re disappointed to hear that the Town of Leland has declined our settlement proposal.  Both H2GO and the Town of Belville believed it was a fair proposal that completely connected with the ruling of the Court,” said H2GO Chairman Ron Jenkins.

“Leland’s leaders should be ashamed of themselves. It’s stunning to think they would put money over public health.  Our proposal provided $800,000 to go towards the payment of almost all of their legal fees.  For this to remain as a reason to prevent the construction of the RO plant from moving forward is shameful.”

Leland introduced the topic of annexation into the settlement discussions last year without mentioning it in their legal action.  As a result, H2GO agreed that annexation was not in any way related to the assets of H2GO, the lawsuit, or the RO Plant, and therefore should not be included in any final settlement.

“Leland never presented annexation agreements before Judge Henry,” said Jenkins. “One reason why the October 2019 proposal died was because Leland vibrantly highlighted their desired takeover of northeastern Brunswick County. Today’s letter confirms this years-long fight has nothing to do with protecting their citizens from the Town of Belville. Leland still wants to grab money and power by taking control of H2GO assets and imposing new annexation agreements that would restrict area developers.”

Today’s letter also shows how Leland is more concerned about winning the rivalry between them and Belville than protecting the health and welfare of their citizens. Leland simply wants to punish the Town of Belville for standing up for clean water.

“When one reads the entire letter, they see anger and vindictiveness. Leland tries to blame everyone but Leland for delaying the construction of the RO Plant. They’re even blaming H2GO’s pro-RO board,” said Jenkins.

It’s important for everyone to remember, that in mid-January Brunswick County was shown to have the highest concentration of PFAS in its drinking water, according to a nationwide Environmental Working Group study. 

“It’s become more crucial than ever for all parties to come together and protect the health and welfare of the communities we serve,” said Jenkins.  “Even after the EWG’s study showed continued contamination in our own schools, we still have to fight with Leland over clean water.”

“We hope that the Town of Leland will reconsider and put aside their desire for money, power, and vengeance. They need to do what is right for their residents, who voted for clean water in November. It’s time for the legal action to end and for H2GO’s RO plant to be finished,” said Jenkins.

“Our board will be discussing how we will move forward during our meeting on Monday,” said Jenkins. H2GO will reconvene for their regular board meeting on Monday, February 24th at 10:00 am, located at 516 Village Rd.
Shameful, selfish and greedy!
Shameful, selfish and greedy!




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