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Neighbors upset over lawsuit between Village Green, Mishawaka Utilities

MISHAWAKA, Ind. -- Neighbors in one Mishawaka neighborhood no longer have trash service because of a lawsuit between the property owners and Mishawaka Utilities. 

Garbage is lining the streets of the Village Green Manufactured Home Community. 

"You drive around and there’s still trash sitting everywhere," said Liz Rich. 

Rich lives on Marblehead Drive. She says the neighborhood’s trash is picked up every Monday, but this week the truck never came. 

"My son went to pull the trash cans up and they were still full," said Rich. 

She thought the trucks might be behind and figured they would come the next day. However by 4 p.m. Tuesday, the problem still sat on her curb. 

"So I called the city to find out what’s going on and they told me that Village Green has not paid their bill in months, so, therefore, they discontinued our trash service," said Rich.

This problem is piling up because of a lawsuit. In August 2017, Village Green sued Mishawaka Utilities claiming the utility company charged the neighborhood inconsistent amount for water, sewer, electric, and trash services.

But the city says their number is correct. The lawsuit says Village Green owes $353, 837.48 in unpaid utilities. Broken down, the city says Village Green owes $236,086.75 in water and sewer fees, $73,250 in trash fees, and $44,500.72 in electric fees. Village Green has not paid any money to Mishawaka Utilities since July 2017. 

"After we filed our legal action in August of 2017, we had an agreement that no payments, on any accounts, would be due until January 1, 2018," said Village Green owner Marissa Welner. 

Property manager of Village Green, Heather Moots, says payments aren’t being made because of the ongoing lawsuit. 

"Some of the amounts they couldn’t explain every time we asked for an answer," said Moots. "There would be different explanations. Always would change a little bit. So we felt we had no other choice."

"When our counsel presented these issues to Mishawaka Utilities and requested to discuss them further so that a settlement and resolution could be made, Mishawaka Utilities, both through their staff and counsel, refused to meet with us again, as was the court's order," said Welner. 

Moots couldn't say how much Village Green thinks they actually owe. 

However homeowners like Keya Hoffer wants a more important question answered. 

"Where’s my money going for my water bill and my trash?" said Hoffer. 

Moots says Village Green is holding onto the resident’s money for now, but it’s still frustrating for homeowners. 

“You know you miss a payment to them and it’s the end of the world," said Hoffer. "But they cannot pay their bills and we’re just supposed to wait around and have no idea what’s going on."

“We know that this is not easy for them. But we hope the overall benefit of this once it’s resolved is it’s going to be better for them and for everybody," said Moots. 

There could be an answer to this soon. Yesterday there was a hearing between both side's lawyers. The judge took the matter under advisement. That means he is still considering it but will rule on it sometime soon. 

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