Melville senior complex to turn over sewage plant to county
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The owners of a Melville luxury senior complex plan to surrender its sewage treatment plant to Suffolk County on Friday, saying the county's new, lower rates have made running the plant unaffordable.
County spokesman Justin Meyers said if the Greens at Half Hollow management abandons the sewage treatment plant, "then the county will take it over."
Meyers said sewage rates are being determined, but they will be based on what it costs to run the facility. Garden City attorney Ronald J. Rosenberg, who represents the Greens, said officials "look forward to speaking with the county further" about the handover.
The county's Department of Public Works decreased the Greens at Half Hollow's rates in October 2012 after the complex's homeowners association asked the county to review the rates.
County public works Commissioner Gilbert Anderson said in a letter dated Oct. 12, 2012, that after examining documents provided by the plant's operators, county officials determined the charges attributed to the Greens Homeowners Association were not "fair and reasonable," so they set the lower rate.
The Greens management sued the county in January 2013, seeking to have the new rates annulled and demanding compensatory damages.
A Suffolk County state Supreme Court judge dismissed most of the lawsuit in June, including the request to annul the rates. Rosenberg said they are appealing the decision.
The high cost of sewage treatment is an issue across Long Island. Nassau County recently reached a deal with a private New Jersey company to manage the county's massive sewer system. Officials have said the plan will save at least $233 million over 20 years and improve environmental protection.
Rosenberg sent a letter to the county on June 3 informing officials of plans to hand over the plant's keys, books and records on July 18.
Rosenberg said that before the new rates, the plant collected about $830,000 each year, which is about what it costs to run the plant annually.
Since last April, the plant has only collected about $354,000 because of the lower rates, he said.
"It is simply financially unfeasible for GHH [the Greens at Half Hollow] to continue to operate and maintain the STP [sewage treatment plant] while at the same time receiving less than half of what it previously received from many of the connectees," Rosenberg wrote in a letter to the county.
The plant has 1,310 connections -- the majority of which are at the Greens, he said.
Anderson said in the October 2012 letter that the sewage treatment plant's agreement gives the county the authority to "approve fair and reasonable charges for each entity's proportionate share of the operation and maintenance costs of the system."