MAHOPAC, N.Y. - The Town Board voted last week to give Councilman Mike Barile an extension to bring his alleged illegal sewer connection at Blu at the Lakehouse Restaurant on South Lake Boulevard—a property he owns with his business partner—into compliance.
Barile was accused last year of connecting the restaurant’s sewer line to a main in Sewer District No. 1 near Clark Place without the requisite permits. He was later accused of having a second line that lacked the necessary permits as well.
The scenario dates back decades to a time when the property housed a small hamburger stand linked to a septic system. Barile converted it into the larger restaurant that it is today.
Barile was given a notice of violation as a result of the first no-permit connection, but regulatory agencies opted to give him a chance to obtain the necessary permits to bring the hookup into compliance. However, back in December, town officials said that Barile had never lived up to his obligations to come into compliance. A dye test conducted on Dec. 6 revealed the restaurant was connected to Sewer District No. 1 at a second location that “at no point [was] disclosed or approved by the town or New York City’s [Department of Environmental Protection].”
Consequently, the town engineering department issued Barile a second notice of violation, saying all connections must be capped and giving him a timeline to remedy the issue or face fines and criminal charges. At its Dec. 18, 2019, meeting, the Town Board gave Barile a Feb. 18 deadline to bring the hookups into compliance or the pipes would be excavated and capped.
But at the board’s Feb. 19 meeting, it voted unanimously to extend that deadline to March 21.
“Our attorneys and engineers say there has been a good-faith effort on [Barile’s] part to get it resolved,” said Councilman Frank Lombardi. “They just need more time to get this completed and [town attorneys] felt it was no problem [to extend the deadline.]”
The town had hired special outside counsel, Manhattan-based Cozen O’Connor, after it, too, was accused by New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) of being in violation regarding the sewer hookup.
The DEP, one of several agencies that must issue a permit for the hookup, has said it would rather see the restaurant connected to the town’s sewer system. Otherwise, it would have to revert to the septic system that it once used when it was a smaller business. DEP prefers that a commercial entity not employ a septic system so close to the lake, but insists Barile must obtain the proper permits and undergo the necessary testing to connect to Sewer District No. 1.
Barile told Mahopac News he now has all the requisite permits—DEP, DEC, county health department and Town of Carmel—but still needs to have the pipes pressure-tested. He said that is a matter of getting everyone together on the same day to get it done.
“We have had good faith from Day 1, but it’s just been too many chiefs and not enough Indians,” he said. “I have all my permits. They just want the line tested, which is what we are trying to. We are waiting for the stars to align. I am not the one holding it up.”
Barile said he was confident the test will be done in time, and he will meet the March 21 deadline.
If he doesn’t, the resolution passed by the board last week, “reserves all rights to seek recovery of any payment of all such expenditures” resulting from the excavation and capping of the pipes.