MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Councilman Mike Barile is in hot water once again over the alleged illegal sewer connection at Blu at the Lakehouse Restaurant on South Lake Boulevard, a property he owns with his business partner Tommy Boniello.
Barile had been accused earlier this year of connecting the restaurant’s sewer line to a sewer main in Sewer District No. 1 near Clark Place without the requisite permits. He is now accused of having a second unpermitted line and could face fines and misdemeanor charges if the situation isn’t remedied.
The scenario dates back decades to when the property housed a small hamburger stand and Barile converted it into the restaurant it is today.
Barile was given a notice of violation as a result of the first unpermitted connection, but regulatory agencies opted to give him a chance to obtain the necessary permits to bring the hookup into compliance.
However, town officials said Barile never lived up to his obligations to come into compliance, and said that a dye test conducted on Dec. 6 revealed that the restaurant is connected to Sewer District No. 1 at a second location that “at no point [was] disclosed or approved by the town or the [Department of Environmental Protection].”
Consequently, the town engineering department issued Barile a second notice of violation, saying all connections must be capped and gave him a timeline to remedy the issue or face potential fines and criminal charges.
Pursuant to Town Law 135, the violation of the Sewer Use Law is a misdemeanor punishable by fine or imprisonment or both. Anyone found to have violated the code faces fines not to exceed $1,000 per violation each day of noncompliance.
Barile denies the accusations and said he continues to work with the DEP to resolve the issue.
In the notice of violation memo sent from town engineer Richard Franzetti to Barile and Boniello, Franzetti writes, “[With] your failure to comply with the terms of this second NOV (notice of violation) and cease and desist [order] in a timely fashion, the town reserves its right to disconnect your unauthorized use of SD #1 and to factor the cost in any fine or penalty assessed.”
Franzetti’s memo laid out 81 points detailing the timeline of events, with supporting documents, that led to the second notice of violation.
The memo states that Barile failed to submit a progress report of his plans to come into compliance with the Sewer Use Law by a Dec. 16 deadline.
“You failed to mitigate [any] further risk associated with the unauthorized connection to CSD #1 by utilizing the on-site [septic] or disconnecting such connection at the property,” Franzetti wrote in the memo. “In response to a question as to why you had not reconnected to the septic system, your counsel publicly stated, ‘That’s a good question. I wish I could answer that for you without getting in trouble.’ Consequently, I find your failure to mitigate potential noncompliance as it relates to the Sewer Use Law and the town’s status under the 1938 Agreement with DEP to have been willful.”
Franzetti wrote that on Dec. 17 he sent the DEP a letter in which he withdrew the town’s consent for Barile’s out-of-district hookup request, which was previously granted as being compliant because Barile submitted inaccurate “as-built” drawings and because all DEP-required actions and testing had not been completed to the satisfaction of both the town and DEP on or before a Dec. 6 deadline.
“As the result, I hereby issue a Notification of Violation pursuant to… the Sewer Use Law with respect to the unauthorized out-of-district connection of the line from the property to Sewer District # 1 through the second connection for unauthorized treatment at the New York City DEP Mahopac wastewater treatment facility,” the memo continues. “As the consequence, I hereby order you to cease and desist with your unauthorized use of CSD #1 and to disconnect any and all connecting lines from the property to the Clark Place manhole, as well as the second connection, by capping all such line(s) at the property.”
Franzetti wrote that work must be done only after 48 hours advanced notice to the town engineer and any members of the engineering department.
Additionally, Barile is required to submit a 10-day compliance plan. He is also required to submit correct “as-built drawings” under an independent third-party engineer’s seal.
“In the event that you elect to utilize the on-site [septic], notify the town, DEP and [county department of health] 48 hours in advance that the septic system is being returned to service to allow such agencies to conduct any inspection or testing of such septic system located at the property,” the memo concludes.
Barile told Mahopac News he believes the accusations are disingenuous, and he remains in contact with the DEP to remedy the problem. He said there are actually three or four connections to the sewer line in question and that it was common knowledge.
“There is one from the beach, one from a neighbor and one from Ferry Island and there might be another but I’m not sure,” he said. “They (town officials) knew this, and are trying to say I snuck a line in.”
Barile said the restaurant may have to go back to the septic system, but he will consult with the DEP to understand what his next move will be. He said he didn’t completely understand the accusations set forth in Franzetti’s notice.
“I am only doing what the DEP is telling me to do,” he said. “I don’t know [what it’s about] and I am the one who [received the violations]. It’s ring around the rosy with these guys.”
Town officials say the new violations stem from an investigation by Cozen O’Connor, an outside law firm based in Manhattan, an investigation that cost the town $120,000 to date.
The board voted 3-0 to pass the resolution to cite Barile and Boniello with Barile and Supervisor Ken Schmitt abstaining. Schmitt said he abstained because the resolution came with more than 260 pages of ancillary documents, which he hasn’t had the time to read.