Sewickley Township sewer authority set to force compliance
About 300 Sewickley Township residents are not connected to the sewage system and may soon receive a summons in the mail with a scheduled court date.
Around 25 residents that are non-compliant with Ordinance 212, which formally requires residents to connect to the system, will be the first to be scheduled, said Brian Merdian, president of the Municipal Sewage Authority of the Township of Sewickley.
“It is to be in compliance with a mandate of the (Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection) and the supervisors,” he said.
Solicitor Don Snyder said the township must be in compliance with state legislation like the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act and Clean Streams Law in addition to the local ordinance.
“(The laws) want to cease pollution of the waters of the commonwealth,” he said. “The penalty aspects of these matters are to try and maintain compliance.”
Once scheduled for court, the non-compliant cases will be pursued with the maximum fine, which is about $1,000, but the penalty is not meant as revenue for the authority.
“This is sort of a deterrent to keep you from further failing to be in compliance and getting you to tap in,” Snyder said.
The legal action is being taken well past the original deadline and multiple extensions.
Residents were first sent tap-in permit packages between November 2011 and February 2012, when they were required to pay the $1,800 tap-in fee and connect to the sewage system within 60 days.
Some took advantage of the extension and had to connect later because of contractor waiting lists.
“We gave an extension to pay the tap fee after the 60 days,” Merdian said, stretching it through May and then again through July.
Payment plans were set up for any residents that worked with the authority, but most of the non-compliant residents have not made any effort to work with the board, he said.
“The people who do have reasons and issues, we've worked with,” Merdian said.
Snyder said the paperwork for the violations may be filed with West Newton District Judge Charles Christner as early as the end of this week.
Non-compliant residents were chosen mostly at random, not by geographic area, he said.
“Some people are just recalcitrant about things, they just don't want to do it. The board has been very conscientious about listening to people on these things,” the solicitor said.
Residents who paid the tap-in fee but have not connected, just as those who connected but not paid the tap-in fee and those that have neither connected nor paid are among the 300 on the non-compliant list, Merdian said.
That is about 20 percent of the 1,300 residents required to connect to the system, he said.
The authority started working with the solicitor in October to begin filing the violations and a final reminder was sent before they proceeded.
Snyder said even before a hearing is held, residents have time to come into compliance.
“There's still time for these people to straighten up and fly right,” he said.
The authority has tried its best to be fair to each resident, so these legal proceedings are another part of that, Merdian said.
“We're going to continue to pursue every single non-compliant until we get the list down to zero,” he said. “We're not going anywhere.”
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-836-6660.