Fair Lawn Clarifies It's Not Responsible for Property Owners' Sewers


FAIR LAWN, NJ – The Borough Council introduced an ordinance that clarifies the borough is not responsible for curb to street sewer line rebuilds. The public hearing is scheduled for May 15.

“Very simply put, this is something that’s already in place,” Superintendent of the Department of Public Works, Alan Neggia, said. “This is a cleaning-up of verbiage.”

On April 17, Neggia reconfirmed he does not know how the practice started, but some homeowners received the benefit of a curb to street rebuild.

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“This cost the borough about $100,000 annually,” he said.

“We’re really not making any changes in the spirit of the ordinance,” Mayor Lisa Swain said. “This is just cleaning up the wording in the ordinance. We’re making it clear who’s responsible.”

Deputy Mayor Kurt Peluso reminded residents this is “just the first reading.”

Swain suggested residents contact the borough manager to make suggestions about the ordinance.

Neggia said homeowners are not obligated to replace the curb to street main, but any backup or malfunction is the homeowner’s responsibility.

“The cost of this is born by the individual property owner,” councilwoman Gail Rottenstrich said. “That’s what we’re saying here.”

“This is unconscionable to me,” resident Lisa D’Elia said. “My property line does not go beyond the curb.”

“It seems to me $80,000 per year in a $37 million budget is not that much,” she said. “That’s much more of my income.”

“You’re shifting the line in the sand,” she said. “Now we have to repair the street, too?”

At the April 4 work session, Borough Manager Jim Van Kruiningen said homeowners have to pay for the street opening permit, $575, and the backfill, paving and pipe reconstruction, about $5,000-$6,000 each occurrence.

Neggia said the current rules were “misconstrued” and the borough was assisting residents on sewer pipe cleanouts, but the borough has not done that in “eight to ten years.”

“We do not do this and we are not obligated to do it,” Neggia said.

After hearing the resident’s complaint, Peluso hinted it may be open for discussion.

“This is something we can discuss,” he said. “We know it affects us all.”

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