WASHINGTON TWP. - An ordeal which has lasted over two years concerning the Washington Township sewage system extension looks like it is coming to an end.
Washington Township residents Kevin McCauley and Judith Ackerman withdrew their respective appeals of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection sewer line extension permit for the Washington Township sewage system.
Mark Shaw, the attorney for the township in the appeals case, provided the details of the case at a teleconference meeting held Jan. 4.
Washington Township Authority officers Mark Beichner, Eric Bauer and Thomas Maher attended the meeting as well as the township's legal counsel Joe Keebler.
The withdrawal of the appeals means the Washington Township Municipal Authority can move forward with its sewage line extensions for the northern and southern ends of the current sewage system.
As part of the settlement, McCauley and Ackerman will not be held responsible for the legal fees incurred by the Washington Township Municipal Authority or the DEP.
If the suit was found to be frivolous, McCauley and Ackerman would have been held responsible for Washington Township Municipal Authority and the DEP legal costs, under Pennsylvania law.
The settlement also states McCauley and Ackerman would not take any further legal action relating to the sewage project including but not limited to challenging the PennVEST financing or the construction of the project.
McCauley and Ackerman would be able to file for litigation if damage to their property or persons is incurred during the construction of the project.
Keebler urged the board to make a motion to approve the settlement and have municipal authority president Mark Beichner sign the agreement.
Washington Township voted to approve the Act 537 Plan amendment regarding the sewer line extensions on Nov. 2, 2018, and the approval was published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on Nov. 24, 2018. Any appeal of the decision had to be filed by Dec. 24, 2018.
McCauley and Ackerman filed their respective appeals more than nine months after the one month deadline for appeals expired.
McCauley and Ackerman filed appeals regarding the water quality permit of sewer line extension.
According to McCauley, he got word from his attorney Dec. 30, 2020, that the judge would hear the appeal. However, the attorney also informed McCauley she was leaving the law firm.
Since McCauley had to replace his attorney, the judge granted an extension and the appeal was to be heard Jan. 27, 2021.
But McCauley was informed if the Washington Township attorney called Pennsylvania DEP Environmental Program Manager John Holden to the stand and he would testify that the DEP did not base its findings regarding water quality on the Act 537, the judge could deem McCauley's case as frivolous and he would be required to pay all of Washington Township's legal fees regarding the issue.
Once McCauley found he would be responsible for the township's legal fees, he decided it was in his best interest to agree to a settlement.