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After developer files lawsuit, Pamelia board changes mind by allowing families into townhouses

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Unresolved issues the Pamelia Town Council has with sewer and water infrastructure at Emerald Acres subdivision will no longer prevent families from moving into townhouses they’ve signed leases for at the site off Route 37.

On Friday, the board reversed its decision of Sept. 30 that prevented additional certificates of occupancy to be issued by zoning and code enforcement officer Walter H. VanTassel, who at the time had already authorized three families to move in. Eight more families are expected to move in by the end of the week, Mr. VanTassel said Monday.

The board’s decision came just two days after developer Guy H. Javarone filed a $3.5 million lawsuit against Pamelia and its supervisor, Lawrence C. Longway, in U.S. District Court, Syracuse. The suit claims Mr. Longway repeatedly has attempted to block the project, which calls for a total of 53 three-bedroom rental units. Eleven of the 19 units planned for the project’s first phase are complete, and the remainder will be completed this fall.

Last week, the town’s attorney, engineer and board members met to discuss issues with the project’s sewer pump station and water meters, Mr. VanTassel said. But they decided the board couldn’t legally prevent families from moving into units, because infrastructure is operating properly.

“They were under the understanding that the pump station wouldn’t work, but they now realize that it is working,” Mr. VanTassel said, adding that equipment already was tested. “They told me the dispute they have over the pump station and water meters is a separate issue, and they can’t legally stop me from giving certificates of occupancy” for families to move in.

The code enforcement officer noted the timing of the decision.

“I do think it’s odd that we got approval right after Mr. Javarone filed the lawsuit,” Mr. VanTassel said.

Due to the pending litigation, Mr. Javarone and his son, Gaetano H., refused to comment about the project Monday. Mr. Longway, who also declined to comment, has recused himself from talking about the Javarones since 2011, when they filed a similar lawsuit against him related to the project.

The board has alleged the Javarones neglected to install a telemetry device at the pump station that will automatically alert engineers if there is a failure, Mr. VanTassel said. The board also has contended that Mr. Javarone should be responsible for paying the town to inspect connections to water meters for each unit. In response, the Javarones contend a town engineer already was on site when the meters were originally installed and inspected; they claim the sewer equipment the town has requested should not be required.

Bernier, Carr & Associates of Watertown completed its inspection of construction records last week and found no issues, said Kris D. Dimmick, vice president of operations. Those construction records have been sent to the state Department of Health and Department of Environmental Conservation for approval.

Board members did not return calls Monday seeking comment.

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