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#BetterBelleville

This morning I woke up with a gem on my Facebook…

https://patch.com/new-jersey/belleville/nutley-belleville-get-7k-rebates-pvsc-here-s-why

I’m not sure which is worse, the fact that the PVSC has the audacity to brag about this scam or the fact that they tout the ‘rebates’ they ‘give back’ to the Township as something beneficial.  SMH.

I have first-hand experience with this shake down scam.  Here’s how the hustle works...  Unsuspecting property owners, both residential and commercial, receive Zoning or Planning Board approvals (if required) for a project.  Then it’s off to the Building / Construction Code Department to submit the plans for review.  Eventually a permit fee is calculated, and permits are ready for pick up.  Totally normal, right?  Indeed.  Usually at this point, the unsuspecting owner orders materials, schedules contractors and is ready to begin work.  That is up until you head into the Building / Construction Code Department to pick up the permits and you’re told you cannot have them until you pay a ‘Sewer Connection Fee’ to the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC).   Please understand, the ‘Sewer Connection Fee’ is a phony, made up fee that has nothing, zero to do with a sewer connection.

Most of you know that I own the building next to Town Hall.  Most of you also know I received unanimous Planning Board approval for my variance, was issued permits from the Building / Construction Code Department, and was actively under construction for months. This was before the Township shut down my construction project with an illegal Police Department Order, which still stands today.  However, I dealt with this exact issue with the PVSC prior to receiving my permits.   I was informed by the Building / Construction Code Department that I could NOT have my permits until I paid a ‘Sewer Connection Fee’ to PVSC.  Not sure yet what was going on, I asked how much this "fee" was.  I was informed that the calculated fee was approximately $19,000.  $19,000!  - Keep in mind, my building already had a sewer connection, and even if it was new construction, the PVSC does not perform the physical connection.  Additionally, if it was new construction, any increase in sewerage going to PVSC is then billed to the Township and the Township passes the ongoing charges to the property owner via a legitimate sewer fee, just like your water bill.  At the time, I spoke directly to the Director of the PVSC. I asked him if my building already had a sewer line, which was already connected to the sewer main and absolutely no physical connection or re-connection was needed, why I was being charged $19,000 for a ‘Sewer Connection Fee.’  Keep in mind, if I had to connect or re-connect to the sewer, PVSC doesn’t even do it.  While my building might produce additional sewage, PVSC charges Belleville for the extra flow and Belleville charges the property owner.  In the end, I changed my drawings and the fee was substantially reduced.  I did this just to attain my permits, but I vowed to one day circle back and revisit this ruse.  Please know, the Township and the Building / Construction Code Department has very little to say about this.  This is a PVSC tactic that they force upon their member municipalities, which is then forced down the throats of individuals trying to make improvements to their property.

Years ago, in neighboring Lyndhurst, stories of two restaurants being extorted for north of $18,500 each raised this exact issue in an article appropriately titled ‘Connection Fees Stink.” See the images below.

This a total scam and kickback program, which has had many municipalities questioning it for a long time.  I guarantee you as Mayor, this scam will be addressed by my administration.  If not directly with PVSC, I have no problem going to each and every Mayor in the consortium and explaining this racket.  This practice of PVSC sending bag men (and women) to sit in the Building / Construction Code Department to review permits, then holding permits hostage for a ransom from unsuspecting property owners, who literally think they are about to begin construction, needs to end.  Especially when you realize the fee is literally for AIR! They neither install, hook-up nor have any involvement in the operation of your sewerage. Nothing. All they do is take your money. Lots of it. This is going to end.

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