City At Odds With Illinois Restaurant Over Grease Trap Maintenance
A giant grease ball inside some old pipes have a City in Illinois and a restaurant owner at odds over who should pay for work done by the City’s Public Works Department.
The City claims the property owner is responsible for the damage to the pipe, but the property owner asserts that the 60-year-old pipes were just worn down.
“They had to dig several holes because they couldn’t find where the pipe was,” the property owner said. “I don’t think that main line was ever inspected.”
In May 2014, they purchased the property. Prior to the purchase, the pipe was connected to a hotel, pizza parlor and a soap store on the property. In 2015, the restaurant opened on the site. There were problems with the plumbing when the restaurant moved in.
But the disagreement with the City began in January 2018, according to a statement from the City.
Before the City was involved, the restaurant owner said there were issues with the sewage, and they hired a plumber to do repairs. When the issues continued, the City’s Public Works Department got involved and began an investigation. A crew had permission from the Public Works Director to fix the problem if they could.
“It was determined that the plugged line was between the main line and the property, and that there were no other lines coming into the line where the plug was located,” according to a statement from the City.
The Public Works Department, in January 2018 reported solidified fats, oils and grease completely clogged a 3-foot section of sewer line north of the building, according to Public Works notes. Public works employees reported seeing grease trap equipment sitting on the back porch of the restaurant, according to the statement by the City, and the restaurant owner acknowledged the greasy mass in the line was the problem and reportedly told someone about dumping “stuff’ down the drains.
The City installed a new line and billed the property owners for the cost of the work. According to the restaurant owner, the bill exceeded $8,000.
The property owner sent the City an invoice from the plumber that he hired to work on the line prior to the City’s involvement and asked the City to cover the tab. The City in February 2018 denied the request in a letter, stating the large amounts of grease and non-flushable items in the isolated sewer line caused the damage.
“The grease and trash not only destroyed City property but also violates multiple City ordinances,” the letter stated. The City offered to set up a payment plan but never received a response, according to the statement.
A City employee in August 2019 discovered grease clogging the new sewer line. The city verified the grease came from the restaurant and cleared the line after business hours.
According to the Public Works Department, before the findings in August, the restaurant installed the grease trap equipment, and the City stopped trying to collect on the bill for the pipe’s replacement, so long as the restaurant owners remained compliant. It was the need for repairs once more that set the billing back into motion.
“The City Council has bent over backward to work with the restaurant owners and property owner,” the City Administrator said. “We were even willing to suspend all the repair costs.”
The City Council is still deciding the path it will take regarding the work done to unclog the pipe after it was replaced.
“The Council loves the local businesses and does everything they can to help them out,” the City Administrator said. “At the same time, though, they have to protect City property that the citizens have entrusted to them. They don’t ever want to see things come to this point.”
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