RED BANK: BROKEN PIPE BLAMED FOR SEWAGE

The house at 251 Drs. Parker Boulevard had human waste spilling into the side yard from a pipe through the basement wall for at least two years, a neighbor said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A routine Red Bank zoning board hearing took disturbing turn last week.

Developer Charlie Farkouh, owner of Home and Land Development Corporation, appeared before the board Thursday night seeking variances to demolish a small house at 251 Drs. James Parker Boulevard and replace it with a new home.

The existing home is in “deplorable condition,” Farkouh’s attorney, David Shaheen, told the board. But that didn’t begin to describe a situation that one neighbor described as “awful.”

It turns out the former residents of the home had been living there for some time without a functioning sewer line, and human waste was ending up in the side yard, Farkouh told the board.

“It goes into a bucket” and gets dumped outside, Farkouh told the astonished board members.

After he acquired the property in November for $120,000, Farkouh said a plumber discovered that the sanitary sewer line had collapsed with the bounds of the property, making it the responsibility of the owner to repair.

Cliff Keen, who heads the public utilities department and since January 1 has been serving as acting interim borough administrator, said Monday that the borough had no awareness of the situation until being contacted by redbankgreen about Farkouh’s testimony.

No complaints had been filed, and there was no record of the homeowners reaching out to the borough, he said.

“It could have been they couldn’t afford to fix it,” he said.

The waste accumulation would have posed a health hazard, he said.

But Alfredo Sanchez, whose father owns a house next door, said his father had reported the problem “two or three times” to the town, “but nothing was ever done.”

The problem, he said, went back “at least two summers.” He said  waste could be seen emerging from a pipe through the basement wall and accumulating in the unpaved driveway.

“The smell was awful,” he said. “It was really bad.”

Sanchez said the house had been occupied by two or three elderly people, whom he did not know, and whose current whereabouts he had no information about. The seller was identified in property records as Mamie Holmes, who could not be located for comment.

Locust Avenue resident Ben Forest told the board that the situation as described was “disturbing” and indicative of growing poverty.

“This shouldn’t happen in America,” he said.