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COURT REJECTS SUIT SEEKING TO HALT START OF WATER PROJECT

A lawsuit designed to stop a water-distribution system for Genesee County was rejected in State Supreme Court on Friday, meaning the $54 million project can begin almost on schedule.

Justice Peter J. Notaro, in a six-page opinion, denied a preliminary injunction to halt the work, lifted a temporary restraining order and granted the defendant's motion to dismiss the case.

The suit, filed last month, contended that contracts between the county and the City of Batavia, and between the county and the Monroe County Water Authority, which will supervise and finance the system, were illegal. Filing the suit were Matthew D. Betters, D-Oakfield, who joined the Legislature nine months ago, and three long-standing foes of the City of Batavia's involvement, Council members Kathleen Briggs, Rose Mary Christian and Henry E. Moscicki.

Notaro ruled that the suit is "essentially a public policy dispute, which cannot be litigated" by the court. He termed arguments that the consolidated system is an extraordinary waste and too costly as "speculative."

Notaro found no violation of General Municipal Law. "This is a public policy dispute and the court will not intervene," he said.

E. Robert Fussell, attorney for the four lawmakers who filed the suit, said he doubted if an appeal would be filed.

County Manager Jay A. Gsell said late Friday that $11.8 million in construction bids will be reviewed by the county Legislature next month, and, if approved, will go to the Monroe County Water Authority, which has the final say over the work.

Work also will begin on the project's first phase: transmission lines in three different areas, a pumping station and a storage tank on Temperance Hill on Route 5.

Also to be revived is a water-rates agreement between the city and Town of Batavia. The city currently supplies water to large areas of the town.

The four who lodged the suit object to the county takeover of Batavia's aging filtration plant and transmission lines.

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