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Post date: April 24 2002

State Targets Mobile Home Park's Rampant Sewage Problems

Attorney General Spitzer and state Department of Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello today announced a lawsuit against the owners and operators of a North Country mobile home park for prolonged violations of state health and environmental laws that threaten the well-being of its residents.

The lawsuit, filed today in Jefferson County Supreme Court, seeks a court order compelling the owners of Northland Estates in the Town of Watertown to repair or replace a sewage disposal system which regularly discharges sewage above the ground at several locations inside the park. The lawsuit also asks the court to order the park's owners to pay $16,400 in fines owed to the state plus interest, and to appoint a receiver to collect rents from park tenants and set the money aside for improvements to the sewage system.

***In addition, the lawsuit asks the court to set fines of up to $25,000 per day for persistent and prolonged violations of state environmental laws.

The owners and operators of Northland Estates named in the lawsuit are: Ken Burnham, 20 Old Stonefield, Pittsford; James A. Martin, 87 Sycamore Ridge, Honeoye Falls; and George Da Graca, 48 Misty Pine Road, Fairport.

"No one should be expected to live under these conditions, with pools of sewage just yards away from where children play," said Attorney General Spitzer. "It is simply unacceptable for the owners of this mobile home park to endanger the health of residents and the environment by allowing this situation to persist for several years. My office will continue working with the state health department to ensure this situation is remedied."

Health Department Commissioner Novello said: "The abject failure of the operators of the North Country mobile home park to provide a safe environment for residents and children using the facilities is reprehensible. I commend the aggressive action taken by the Attorney General's office and the Department of Health staff to protect the residents at the park and to hold the operators accountable for their continued failure to repair and improve the sewage system."

Northland Estates, on Route 11, has more than 200 mobile home sites. For several years, pools of raw sewage have formed on the ground within 50 feet of homes, easily accessible to children and pets. In warm weather, exposed sewage gives off foul odors that make it uncomfortable for residents to open their windows or enjoy being outdoors. Residents of Northland Estates have filed numerous complaints with the state Department of Health and with the Attorney General's office.

Health department officials performed a number of inspections at the mobile home park and the department made several efforts to work with park owners to resolve the matter. However, the owners of the park failed to meet deadlines to restrict access to contaminated areas of the park and to implement a state-ordered engineering plan to remedy the failed sewage system.

After being rebuffed for two years by the owners of Northland Estates, the state Department of Health referred the case to the Attorney General for prosecution.

It is estimated that repairing the sewage system at Northland Estates will cost $260,000.

The lawsuit is being handled by James O'Rourke, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Watertown regional office.