Construction company asks township to withdraw plans

Groninger: Sewer updates are unnecessary

MIFFLINTOWN — A local construction company asked Fermanagh Township supervisors to withdraw proposed updates to its sanitary sewer plan.

John Groninger Jr., of John Groninger Inc., presented supervisors with results of a deposition on Monday that he said state the plans are unnecessary and could cause residents to see a hike in their sewer bills, during the board’s regular meeting.

During his presentation, Groninger said updates to the plan could result in some residents being hit with a $3,000 tap fee and a $119 monthly bill.

If the plan is updated, it may also require Arch Rock Sewer Treatment Plant to abandon its septic systems, a plant which is owned by John Groninger Inc.

He continued, saying that based on depositions that showed communications between Fermanagh Township and the Department of Environmental Protection employees, the updates were not a requirement.

The proposed Act 537 plan, he said, would affect everyone living along Arch Rock Road.

“Some things that were made clear in the deposition were not as clear as they could have been to us,” Groninger said. “In communications from DEP, it was implied to us that DEP was forcing some issues, but the direct question … was did DEP require the township to update their 537 plan. The answer is ‘no.'”

Township Solicitor Randy Zimmerman said during one DEP employee’s deposition, she testified that when she took her position, she contacted the municipality regarding moving forward with a plan.

Groninger continued, saying some language in the deposition could be confusing, and that the DEP stated it would be the municipality’s decision regarding how to move forward.

Groninger asked township official to withdraw the proposed plan, saying it is not affordable to residents.

“I think most of the people along the river who live along Arch Rock would not have $3,000 for the tap fee,” he said. Alternatively, he requested the township exclude his company’s apartment complex along Arch Rock from the plan. The apartment complex utilizes his privately owned sewage treatment facility, he said.

“If you’re not being forced by DEP to do it, we’re just asking that you reconsider the whole situation,” he said.

After the meeting, Zimmerman explained that, in 2015, the township’s previous engineering firm had submitted a task activity report saying that it was going to begin updating the township’s Act 537 sewage plan.

Zimmerman said EADS Group, the township’s engineering firm, undertook an antiquated version of that plan, which, if implemented, may require Groninger’s privately-owned waste water treatment plan to shut down.

Zimmerman said the plan was approved by the DEP about a year ago and was found to be in compliance with the regulations, however, Groninger appealed the decision administratively.

The township is in the midst of that litigation, he said.

Zimmerman said Groninger also has civil litigation pending against the township and Twin Boroughs Sanitation Authority.