MAHOPAC, N.Y. - The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will not levy a fine against Councilman Mike Barile for not hooking a restaurant property he owns on Route 6N to an existing sewer main head, according to the councilman.
The DEC would not confirm or deny the councilman’s claim he will not be fined, but in a prepared statement said: “The DEC is actively monitoring the facility to ensure full compliance. As a result of DEC’s investigation, the facility has installed a flow meter. The investigation is ongoing.”
Barile said he met with DEC officials in White Plains on Thursday, June 27 to discuss the situation at Blu Restaurant and his intentions to rectify the sewer issue there.
Barile and his partner, Tommy Boniello, bought the property in the early ‘90s when it was a hamburger stand and utilized a septic system. He and Boniello remodeled the building to accommodate a larger high-end restaurant, which has changed names multiple times over the years. Now known as Blu at the Lakehouse, it was previously known as Il Laghetto.
In 1993, that area of Route 6N was dug up for a Department of Transportation (DOT) project and during that time a sewer main head was installed nearby. It was capped and the restaurant continued to utilize the septic system.
A series of articles in The Journal News, written by David McKay Wilson, brought the issue to light, but Barile contended he had done nothing illegal and planned to hook the property up to the sewer main once the necessary permits were obtained.
Wilson’s most recent article, published last week, contends that the DEC was investigating the 1993 sewer line head installation, saying it may have been conducted “without a necessary use and occupancy permit…” Wilson wrote that depending on what the DEC finds, penalties of as much as $37,000 a day could be levied against Barile and Boniello. But according to Barile, no fine has been levied as of yet.
Barile disputed Wilson’s claim that no approvals were given for the sewer main head at the June 26 Town Board meeting and presented drawings illustrating that the county Board of Health and the DOT had signed off on the sewer line. He gave Mahopac News copies of the drawings. Those drawings are dated March 4, 1992.
“In this [Journal News] article, [Wilson] says that the Board of Health and the Department of Transportation had no knowledge of the sewer line that was put in or that nobody inspected it,” Barile said. “Here is a set of plans that are available anytime at my office, which is a plan profile that was approved for the sewer line. Between June 9, 1992, and Jan. 1, 1993, there were six revisions and the revisions were per Board of Health and DOT comments. It directly disputes the entire [Journal News] article.
“It was signed off by an engineer and it’s very easily FOILable. [Wilson] FOILs a lot…why didn’t he get this? Strange, isn’t it? The truth comes out eventually. Sometimes it just takes a little time.”
Barile said he met with DOT officials June 27 and told them he was beginning the process of taking the restaurant off its septic system and hooking it up to that sewer main head under Route 6N. He told Mahopac News he would not be fined by the DEC and would not need a State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permit because the discharge of sewage/wastewater is less than 1,000 gallons per day and contains no industrial or other non-sewage waste. DEC confirmed that the flow was under 1,000 gallons per day.
However, he will need other permits, including ones from the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the town of Carmel.
“I am satisfied with the direction this is heading,” said Supervisor Ken Schmitt. “[Barile] called me and filled me in after the [DEC] hearing. He will continue to pursue hooking up to the main and connect to the municipal system and will seek the approvals for an out-of-district permit. He will have to come before the Town Board to do it and he will have to recuse himself, of course.”
Schmitt said he believes that when the property held a small hamburger stand in the early ‘90s, it was small enough to use a septic system. But with the larger restaurants, the wastewater discharge has increased, necessitating the switch to the town’s sewer line. He said he believes that was Barile’s intention all along.
“From the environmental standpoint, the DEC prefers you hook up to a sewer system,” Schmitt said. “I think they (Barile and his partner) were forward-planning. They thought they would eventually have to hook up to it.”
Barile contends that the septic system at Blu Restaurant has never harmed Lake Mahopac and there is no evidence to show that it has.
“I have lived on that lake for 45 years and am probably the highest taxpayer on that lake family-wise,” he said at the June 26 Town Board meeting. “I water-ski on that lake; I raised my children on that lake; my children are raising their children on that lake. Do you really think in your wildest imagination I would do anything to harm a body of water that I have fought for for 45 years?”