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Roxbury People Ignore Sewer Pump Letters, Risk Big-Buck Repair Bills

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ROXBURY, NJ – It’s not often you get offered something for free, so Roxbury officials are wondering why property owners in Landing are ignoring letters from the township that do just that.

About 450 buildings in Landing are equipped with machines called grinder pumps that push household wastewater into the Roxbury sewer system. The pumps are owned by the township, which is willing to repair or replace them if they fail.

All the township needs are easements allowing town workers to come on private properties to make the repairs.

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However, about 200 of the property owners have not responded to Roxbury’s urgently-worded requests for those easements, town officials said. They warned that, by failing to grant the easements, these people are risking an expensive situation: If their grinder pumps fail, they;ll have to pay a plumber or pump repair service to fix or replace the units.

“The pumps are usually about $1,800,” said Roxbury Township Engineer Michael Kobylarz. That’s just for the unit, not for the labor fees involved in repairing or replacing them.

Roxbury officials say the township is one of the few in the state willing to fix or replace broken grinder pumps for free. It was something set up when sewers were brought to Landing in the 1990s, they said.

The only cost to the property owner would be paying to have the easement permission paper notarized.

“We sent out numerous letters,” said Roxbury Councilman Bob DeFillippo. “The problem is they’re letters from the government. If they don’t understand them, people tend to ignore them.”

The letters clearly warn those who did not respond to prior grinder pump easement requests that they are at risk, stating “legally the township cannot enter onto your property to maintain this facility” without getting the easement permission.

“If the executed easement is not received by the township within said time period, this notice is to also advise you that the township will no longer be responsible for the maintenance, repair, rebuilding, reconstruction or replacement of the grinder pump system and the property owner will assume maintenance responsibility of the system and all associated costs,” warned the “Final Notice” letters most recently mailed July 17.

DeFillippo said the township doesn’t want people to go that route. He suggested phone calls from town hall might be necessary to urge action by the easement slackers.

Roxbury Councilman Richard Zoschak pointed out that grinder pumps have a tendency to fail at the worst times, a situation that can cause waste to backup into a house.

“When you have a lot of people over to the house, these things die out and you cannot use your facilities,” he said. “So, it’s really important to get that letter out, otherwise you’re going to have to call a private company to come in and do the repairs because the township is not going to be responsible.”

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