As Carmel town board members call for an investigation into a sewer hookup on a property owned by Councilman Michael Barile, the bombastic businessman remained defiant that the connection was not a problem.
Barile is facing heat after it was revealed in a letter from the New York City Department of Protection that his property where Blu at the Lakehouse is located was connected to sewer and not a using septic system after Barile had said earlier this year the property used septic. The DEP visited the site on Sept. 4 to conduct a dye test on the existing septic field, but DEP officials wrote in a letter to the town that the force main for Blu Restaurant was online. Barile told the DEP the cap on the force main in the manhole at the intersection of Route 6N and Clark Place was removed the previous week.
That has led to questions over how long the sewer has been hooked up to Blu and if Barile did so without the proper approvals. According to The Journal News, the town engineering department said there was no authorization to make a connection and the DEP has also not approved the sewer connection.
Barile’s property was hit with a violation from the Putnam County Department of Health late Monday. The notice of non- compliance comes after The Journal News emailed the county a copy of a county permit from 26 years ago connected to Blu and detailed how Barile didn’t comply with the conditions on the permit.
“A review of the matter was conducted and it has been determined that a violation of the Putnam County Sanitary Code and the 1993 approvals has occurred,” the county wrote to Barile, according to The Journal News. “As such, a notice of non-compliance is being issued to the property owners by the Putnam County Department of Health.”
Barile, in an interview, said on Sept. 3 he disconnected from his septic field and connected to the sewer for the purpose of the DEP performing a test because officials from the agency told him they wanted to inspect the manhole and sewer line. The town engineering department is aware of the sewer hookup, Barile said.
Three applications have been submitted to the town over the past three months and Barile has attempted to pay the fees, to the tune of $4,000, and $6,471 in back capital charges, he said. On Monday when he went in to give in the checks, the engineering department refused to take them. He left them on the counter, but it’s unknown if or when the checks will be deposited.
Town engineer Richard Franzetti could not comment on the sewer line at Blu at the direction of the town board.
Barile said it is untrue that he doesn’t have permission from the DEP to hook up to the sewer and the only permit he needs now is from the state department of transportation. He said he already had authorization from the town when a resolution was passed in the early 1990s to use the sewer as an outside user.
As the DEP continues to investigate the matter, Barile said he is waiting for further instructions. He said he, his engineer and his attorney have called the DEP multiple times for further guidance and has yet to hear back the agency. Calls to the DEP were not returned to The Putnam Examiner.
“We did what the DEP wanted and now we’re waiting for an answer,” Barile said, adding the criticism he is facing is “insane.”
But Barile’s colleagues on the town board aren’t coming to his defense.
Supervisor Kenny Schmitt said Barile told him and the engineering department on Sept. 10 that the force main to Blu was connected and operational. Schmitt said the town board would seek advice from outside legal counsel that has not been determined yet.
According to a resolution from the early 1990s granting the Blu Restaurant property out of district use, it is contingent on conditions that need to be met first in order to hook up, Schmitt said.
“To the best of my knowledge they haven’t been met yet,” Schmitt said. “If you’re asking if he should’ve been tapped into the
main without first obtained those permits, my answer is yes, he should’ve received those permits first.”
When asked if he thought Barile has done anything wrong, Schmitt demurred and said he didn’t want to comment at this time.
Schmitt had publicly defended Barile countless times before and even last week said he believed Barile has done a fine job overall as a councilman.
“We’re going to look into it and hopefully we’re going to have more answers with what’s going happen going forward,” Schmitt said, adding the town hasn’t determined who removed the cap to hook up to the sewer line.
Councilman John Lupinacci echoed Schmitt’s words and said the town board needs to hire outside counsel regarding Barile and the sewer connection because town attorney Greg Folchetti has recused himself. Lupinacci said his recusal is because Folchetti works for every town board member as town counsel.
“If (Barile) did anything right or wrong, that is to be determined,” Lupinacci said. “We’re at the early stage at realizing what our options are and what can be done and what should be done.”
While Lupiacci stressed he wants to wait for all the facts to come out, he noted Barile is not supposed to connect because he lacks certain approvals. Further investigation will hopefully reveal when and why Barile connected to the sewer line, Lupinacci said.
In addition to outside counsel, there could be talks with the Putnam County District
Attorney’s Office and New York State Comptroller’s Office, Lupinacci said.
“If he hooked up a week ago, it changes things,” Lupinacci said. “If he hooked up 28 years ago, it’s a different story. We have to figure this out.”
Councilwoman Suzi McDonough has also called for an investigation, according to The Journal News.
Barile said people should wait until all the information comes out before casting judgment.
Putnam Democratic Committee chair Scott Reing, who is a Carmel resident, said he believes if Barile was hooked up without the correct authorization, even for just a day, he should resign from the town board. Hooking up to the sewer without proper permits could be a theft of services, Reing said.
“If we had a board member steal $100 bill from a lockbox in town hall, we would demand that they resign and this is the same thing,” Reing said. “If it was true he was hooked up and he wasn’t paying the sewer and sewer tax then I think it’s a reason to resign.”
“Any town employee who steals assets or services from the town should not be employed by the town,” Reing added.
Barile scoffed at the suggestion he step down and that there was possible theft of services, stressing everything was paid appropriately.
“If you’re asking me if I’m going to resign, oh no, definitely not,” Barile said. “It gets me madder, it makes me work harder.”