The chairwoman of the Zoning Board of Appeals resigned Monday after learning that village officials agreed in May to allow a septic tank cleaner to dump 30,000 tons of wastewater daily into a sewer line on his property.
Becky Dash, a seven-year member of the Zoning Board, said she was shocked to hear about the project. She complained that the Village Board had "done nothing but stall" when Zuech's Septic Tank Service of Farmersville requested permission through the Zoning Board in March to construct a dewatering plant at the same location and to send the wastewater to the nearby village treatment plant through a manhole on the property.
After village officials requested more information and several weeks passed after the March meeting, business owner Fritz Zuech -- who is also the town supervisor of Farmersville -- withdrew his application and began construction of the plant on his own property near the intersection of Routes 16 and 98.
"In March it fell by the wayside. He came in and gave a presentation and the [Village] Board wanted to see a pilot plant. There was nothing regarding an agreement mentioned" and later Zuech gave up without receiving a commitment from the village, Dash said.
Village records and meeting minutes show that on May 9, Zuech proposed constructing a cement truck parking pad for dumping wastewater into the manhole at the end of Pennsylvania Avenue, where it would then be distributed to the village's treatment plant. The pad would guard against spills, with flows to be measured "on the honor system" and bacteria levels to be tested at random by the plant operator.
The agreement was approved during the meeting by three trustees and the mayor with a resolution authorizing Zuech to dump a maximum of 30,000 gallons daily at the rate of 44 cents per 100 gallons, or more if the industrial sewer rate is increased.
Dash said she eventually discovered the village had signed a letter of intent to discuss the project with Zuech as early as October 2004, when Zuech hoped to trade his wastewater treatment service for removal of the village's plant sludge. Then she contacted a state Department of Environmental Conservation official, who told her the procedures were "not the way to go about it."
After Dash submitted a written resignation Monday, Mayor Judy L. Harrington urged her to reconsider and said there is a lot more to the project than what Dash described and that it amounts to "more than a handshake." Dash would not reconsider her decision.
After the meeting, village officials said Zuech's dewatering plant represents a new technology that is misunderstood but welcomed by the DEC. They said the plant is still under construction and the wastewater has not been deposited in the village's system yet.
They verified that the project for depositing the wastewater in the manhole in Pennsylvania Avenue is being reviewed by the DEC and that the village has no authority over it.