Property owner raises stink over broken Sussex sewer

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:52

    Sussex-When Jose Viana attempted to fix a broken sewer line a year and a half ago on his property at 78 Fountain Square, he never realized the difficult battle he was in for. Sewage from a faulty manhole - actually, more of a steel plate over a hole in the ground - has been seeping down a backyard area towards a garage that is part of his property. Viana, a landlord, rents out apartments in the building and over the adjacent garage. "I do not have use of the land and my tenants are bothered by the terrible smell," he said. Viana is willing to fix the problem himself but was told he can not be granted a building permit do so. Frustrated after being bounced back and forth among various officials, Viana engaged attorney Martin Van Der Heide, who brought the affair to the attention of the borough council two weeks ago. "The plumbing inspector said it's beyond his authority to allow a home owner to fix this because the sewer serves multiple users," Van Der Heide said. Although the health department had sent Viana a letter regarding the sewage, it also agreed that it is the town's responsibility to resolve because it is a public sewer that supplies four neighboring homes. Mayor Katherine Little and the town council told him they were aware of the sewage leakage and also knew that a year ago plans were designed to replace the lines, but the project was abandoned for reasons that were not explained. "It is a matter for the town attorneys to handle now," said Little, advising Van Der Heide to have a private discussion with Kevin Kelly, the borough attorney. Van Der Heide said he is waiting to hear from Kelly, who did not return several calls from The Advertiser-News seeking comment. Viana wants the situation resolved for once and for all, but for now will settle for a simple answer.