RANDOLPH, NJ - Randolph health officials closed Skylands Event and Conference Center due to an illegal sewer bypass in the facility’s basement. After working on remediation throughout the week, Skylands will reopen this weekend.

When residents complained of a serious odor behind the banquet center near their properties, township health officials visited the site and found a blocked grease trap and an illegal sewer bypass draining kitchen sewage into a sump pump.

“The health department received a complaint regarding the facility and conducted an inspection with our water and sewer department on Monday,” said Township Manager Stephen Mountain.

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“The inspection confirmed that the grease interceptor in the basement was blocked… In order to address the blocked line, [Skylands] apparently installed a bypass to a sump pump, so grease would get around the blockage,” Mountain explained.

The sump pump is primarily meant for rainwater, so it discharged the grease onto the grounds and possibly the stream nearby. Having a non-functioning sewer system resulted in an “unsatisfactory” rating from the health department, which forced the facility to shut down until repaired.

However, Skylands worked to correct the problem and have the facility re-inspected in order to prevent cancelations of weddings and events during this season.

“[The Randolph health official] has advised that all issues found under our local code have been abated, and they’ll be able to open this weekend,” he said. Since the physical problem of the blocked grease trap and sewer bypass has been resolved, the health department allowed Skylands to open.

While they have been cleared to open, Skylands also received a summons from the health department for the illegal discharge of the sewage and from the engineering department for the illicit connection which caused an impact on the waterway.

The township plumbing department also issued a summons requiring a detailed engineering report with the plan for installation and proper sizing of a new grease trap.

“The plan submitted via the plumbing inspector will be a long term fix with the installation of a larger grease tank,” Mountain explained. The health department allowed this conditional requirement to be completed in the future.

However, Skylands could be facing more violations at a county and even state level. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the Morris County Health Department are conducting a joint investigation to assess the environmental impact of the illegal sewer bypass. They will then choose whether or not to issue additional violations to the facility.