Sewer troubles remain for Old Company Store owners
The owners of the Old Company Store found themselves temporarily road-blocked yet again at Thursday's Sewer Commission meeting.
John and Sandra Assad, who closed the Old Company Store in 2016, requested a variance from Wareham’s Zoning Board in January which would allow them to convert the back of the store into apartments. The request was denied without prejudice when the Zoning Board discovered that an unpaid utility bill to the tune of $12,984 remained.
The overdue bill is the product of an assessment done by the Wareham Water Pollution Control Facility on several Elm Street properties owned by the Assads. The couple says that they have never been able to see the assessment, despite repeated requests to Wareham Water Pollution Control Facility Director Guy Campinha.
“We’re asking for some proof that we owe this, when we can document everything that we’ve paid. We need some substantiation,” Sandra said. “If you found a $12,000 bill in the mail, you’d think that was unfair.”
The Assads insisted that they had paid all of their bills both before and after a 2006 sewer line hookup. They own the pump station that the sewer line was tied into.
John produced a letter which was sent in 2006 to the Wareham Selectmen. The letter was written by Campinha.
It stated that the sewer hookup would go forward as the Assads had agreed to pay back electrical costs and costs for upgrades to their pump station, previously paid for by the Wareham Water Pollution Control Facility.
The Assads say that they were never made aware of this condition. The agreement was made by a representative of Fields Engineering, acting as their agent. John claimed that the agreement to pay back money had been made without his consent and that the representative did not inform either him or Sandra of the money they had apparently agreed to pay.
A letter to the Assads, from Town Treasurer John Foster, detailed the unpaid costs, including $3,062 for unpaid electric bills and $3,415 for labor, parts and repair at the pump station.
John offered an electricity bill for the pump station he owns, dated April of 2005, from the Town of Wareham. It was marked "paid" with the check number.
Campinha, usually in attendance, was absent from the meeting on vacation. Without his presence, the board was unwilling to release the assessment to the Assads, feeling that they lacked the expertise and authority to do so.
Chair James Giberti promised to work on what the commission thought was the best option: a meeting attended by the Assads, Campinha, the Sewer Commission, the Board of Selectmen, Town Administrator Derek Sullivan and Town Counsel Richard Bowen.
“Without all of the information from everyone, we can’t accurately assess the situation and figure out exactly what is going on,” he explained.