Township of Lopatcong, NJ
Warren County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Adopted 12-30-1974 by Ord. No. 250 as Art. II of Ch. 89 of the 1974 Code of the Township of Lopatcong]
The sanitary sewers of the Township of Lopatcong shall be operated as a self-liquidating utility, and charges for such service shall be imposed upon users thereof. The revenue derived therefrom shall be dedicated to the purposes of such service as a self-liquidating utility.
[Amended 10-4-1995 by Ord. No. 1995-12; 3-5-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-05; 10-1-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-18; 6-16-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-05]
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
BASE ALLOWANCE
All customers will be given a water consumption allowance of 17,600 gallons annually or 4,400 gallons per quarter. Any customer using over the allowance will be charged a usage charge, per 1,000 gallons over the quarterly allowance, in the next quarter.
BASE CHARGE
A quarterly charge established for all classes of customers which will allow for 17,600 gallons annually or 4,400 gallons per quarter.
COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENT
Any room, group of rooms, building or other enclosure used for the sale or distribution of any product, commodity, article or service and specifically includes churches, chapels, clubrooms, firehouses, professional offices, banks, schools, group of rooms or other building or enclosure not included in the definition of "residential unit" or "industrial establishment."
INDUSTRIAL ESTABLISHMENT
Any room, group of rooms, building or other enclosure used for the manufacturing, processing, cleaning, laundering or assembling of any product, commodity or article.
RESIDENTIAL UNIT
Any room, group of rooms, house, trailer or other enclosure occupied or intended for occupancy as a separate living quarter by a family or other group of persons living together or by persons living alone.
SANITARY SEWER
The system of conduits installed or maintained by the Township in or near the public streets, thoroughfares and easements for the purpose of dispersing of fluid waste other than stormwater.
USAGE CALCULATION
Usage is based on the actual metered water consumption for the previous quarter. Water consumption readings will be based upon the readings provided to the Township Tax Collector by the water company. For nonmetered users, the assumed quarterly usage will be 16,750 gallons.
[Amended 12-21-1983 by Ord. No. 1983-20; 4-15-1987 by Ord. No. 1987-2; 8-19-1987 by Ord. No. 1987-8; 4-20-1988 by Ord. No. 1988-4; 6-15-1988 by Ord. No. 1988-16; 3-1-1989 by Ord. No. 1989-5; 3-21-1990 by Ord. No. 1990-14 3-20-1991 by Ord. No. 1991-3; 5-6-1992 by Ord. No. 1992-06; 4-7-1993 by Ord. No. 1993-07; 5-4-1994 by Ord. No. 1994-08; 10-4-1995 by Ord. No. 1995-12; 6-27-2006 by Ord. No. 2006-17; 3-5-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-05; 10-1-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-18; 11-5-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-20; 9-1-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-11]
A. 
All customer usage shall be based upon actual metered water consumption for the previous quarter. Nonmetered customers or customers who did not have a water consumption reading for the previous quarter will be assumed a quarterly usage of 16,750 gallons.
B. 
All residential customers shall pay a quarterly base sewer charge of $45. All commercial and industrial customers shall pay a quarterly base sewer charge of $50. The base charges described herein shall be paid by all customers regardless of usage.
[Amended 7-6-2011 by Ord. No. 2011-11]
C. 
Any customer using more than 4,400 gallons for the previous quarter will be charged a use charge of $12.25 per 1,000 gallons over the base allowance in addition to the base charge set forth in § 183-8B.
[Amended 7-6-2011 by Ord. No. 2011-11; 2-9-2012 by Ord. No. 12-02]
D. 
The usage charge for the quarter in which a new connection is made shall be based upon the assumed quarterly usage of 16,750 gallons.
E. 
In the event that it is contended by the owner or occupant of any commercial establishment, industrial establishment, residential unit or other equivalent dwelling unit that the calculation of the base and/or usage charges in accordance with the foregoing does not fairly reflect the amount of sewerage discharged into the sanitary sewer system, the method of calculating the charges may be adjusted for good cause shown, by filing first an administrative appeal to the Tax Collector and then upon filing of a written application to the Township Council. However, no such adjustment shall affect the sewer base or usage charges for the service quarterly in which the application is made unless the application is filed as provided and within the time limited in § 183-10F, nor shall any such adjustment affect the sewer base or usage charges for any previous quarter except as provided for in § 183-10F.
F. 
Sewer rate discount for eligible account holders.
[Added 4-6-2016 by Ord. No. 2016-06]
(1) 
Discounted rates. There shall be a discount available to residential sewer account holders, who are 65 or more years of age, provided they meet the qualifications pursuant to § 183-8F(2)(a). There shall be a discount available to residential sewer account holders, who are less than 65 of age and are disabled, provided they meet the qualifications pursuant to § 183-8F(2)(b). A residential sewer account holder who meets all of the qualifications under either subsection shall receive a 10% deduction in the cost of his/her sewer bills. Only one of the two discounts (i.e., either the age 65 or over discount or the disabled person discount) will be applied per account holder and/or dwelling unit.
(2) 
Qualifications and eligibility for discounted service.
(a) 
Age 65 or over. In order to qualify for a discounted sewer user fee, an age-qualified user must apply to the Township Clerk for the discount and must meet all of the following requirements:
[1] 
Attain the age of 65 or more by the first day of the billing quarter for which a discount is claimed when applying. Proof of age shall be required (i.e., driver's license or birth certificate, shall be deemed sufficient). No discount shall apply retroactively for a preceding quarter.
[2] 
The sewer account must be in the name of the claimant, the account must be for a residential unit, and all charges must be current at the time of application.
[3] 
The property must be owned by the account holder or jointly owned with his or her spouse or domestic partner. It shall be the applicant's primary residence.
[4] 
The user must meet the eligibility requirements of the Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD) program or if the applicant does not meet the eligibility requirements of the PAAD program, must have a total income not in excess of $10,000 during the year preceding the application, exclusive of any one of the following types of benefits: social security benefits; federal benefits received by persons excluded from social security coverage including benefits under the Federal Railroad Retirement Act and other federal pensions, disability and retirement programs; or pension, disability or retirement programs of any state or its political subdivisions, or agencies thereof, for persons not covered under the Federal Social Security Act. Proof of income eligibility in the form of a tax return for the preceding year must be filed with the Township Clerk at the time of application and each year thereafter by April 20. If the user fails to meet the income requirement or does not file a copy with the Township Clerk of their last year's federal income tax return, the discount will be removed, effective April 1 of each year. If the user does not meet the Internal Revenue Service requirements to file a federal income tax return, the township will accept a sworn statement as to income.
[5] 
Rental units owned by the applicant are not eligible for this discounted rate.
(b) 
Disabled person. In order to qualify for a discounted sewer user fee, a disabled person must apply to the Township Clerk for the discount and meet all of the following requirements:
[1] 
The applicant must be disabled as of the first day of the billing quarter for which a discount is claimed when applying. Disability must be total and permanent in accordance with the provisions of the federal Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 301 et seq., or disabled under any federal law administrated by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs if the disability is rated as 60% or higher. No discount shall apply retroactively for a preceding quarter.
[2] 
The sewer account must be in the name of the claimant, the account must be for a residential unit, and all charges must be current at the time of application.
[3] 
The property must be owned by the account holder or jointly owned with his or her spouse or domestic partner. It shall be the applicant's primary residence.
[4] 
The user must meet the eligibility requirements of the Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD) program or if the applicant does not meet the eligibility requirements of the PAAD program, must have a total income not in excess of $10,000 during the year preceding the application, exclusive of any one of the following types of benefits: social security benefits; federal benefits received by persons excluded from social security coverage including benefits under the Federal Railroad Retirement Act and other federal pensions, disability and retirement programs; or pension, disability or retirement programs of any state or its political subdivisions, or agencies thereof, for persons not covered under the Federal Social Security Act. Proof of income eligibility in the form of a tax return for the preceding year must be filed with the Township Clerk at the time of application and each year thereafter by April 20. If the user fails to meet the income requirement or does not file a copy with the Township Clerk of their last year's federal income tax return, the discount will be removed, effective April 1 of each year. If the user does not meet the Internal Revenue Service requirements to file a federal income tax return, the township will accept a sworn statement to as to income.
[5] 
Rental units owned by the applicant are not eligible for this discounted rate.
[Amended 6-18-1986 by Ord. No. 1986-6; 3-1-1989 by Ord. No. 1989-5; 3-21-1990 by Ord. No. 1990-14; 5-20-1998 by Ord. No. 1998-18; 12-28-1998 by Ord. No. 1998-34; 2-3-1999 by Ord. No. 1999-04; 11-7-2001 by Ord. No. 2001-30; 7-16-2003 by Ord. No. 2003-14; 2-4-2004 by Ord. No. 2004-3; 8-3-2005 by Ord. No. 2005-13]
A. 
All residential properties where the costs incident to the installation of sewerage laterals and other lines necessary to effect connection of the sewerage mains of the Township of Lopatcong have been borne by the owners of such properties shall, as a condition precedent to effecting connection with the sewerage facilities of the Township, pay an initial service charge of $2,000 to the Township for all one- and two-bedroom properties. The initial service charge application to all residential properties which contains three or more bedrooms shall be $2,500.
B. 
The initial service charge applicable to apartment/condominium units of whatever nature shall be as follows: those containing one-bedroom units, $2,000; two-bedroom units, $2,000; and three-or-more-bedroom units, $2,500.
C. 
For commercial and industrial properties, said charge shall be based upon the actual gallonage as certified by the applicant and approved by the Municipal Engineer of the Township of Lopatcong. Said charge shall be $6.70 per gallon. For example, if an applicant proposes to produce 2,000 gallons of wastewater for treatment, the connection charge will be $6.70 times 2,000 or $13,400.
D. 
The connection fee payable to the Township of Lopatcong shall be $1,200 per residential unit under all the following conditions:
(1) 
The sewerage flow from the subdivision is conveyed solely through the sewage transport system of an adjacent municipality; and
(2) 
The homeowners’ association or other such entity shall maintain sole responsibility for the repair and maintenance of the sewage system within the immediate confines of the subdivision.
E. 
The initial service charge shall be due and paid at the time of the connection of the residential property to the sewer system.
[Added 2-19-1992 by Ord. No. 1992-02; amended 10-4-1995 by Ord. No. 1995-12; 3-5-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-05; 10-1-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-18; 11-5-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-20; 6-16-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-05]
A. 
The effective date for new buildings for the beginning of the quarterly base and usage charges shall be the date of the issuance of the certificate of occupancy, and for existing buildings, the quarterly base and usage charges shall begin 30 days after the date of official notice to connect to the sewer system.
B. 
The payment of the base and usage charges is required even though the building may be vacant.
C. 
The quarterly sewer charges shall be payable by the owner of each commercial establishment, industrial establishment, residential unit or other equivalent dwelling unit 30 days from the date of the quarterly bill.
D. 
Sewer base and usage charges shall draw the same interest from the time they become due, as taxes upon real estate in the Township, and they shall be a lien upon the premises with respect to which the charges are made until paid. The Township shall have the same remedies for the collection thereof with interest, costs and penalties as it has by law for the collection of taxes upon real estate.
E. 
The Township Tax Collector shall prepare and mail or otherwise deliver sewer bills to the person charged not later than 30 days from the date the water readings are received by the Township Tax Collector.
F. 
If it is contended by the owner or occupant of any commercial establishment, industrial establishment, residential unit or equivalent dwelling unit that there is any error in the imposition or cancellation of the sewer base and/or usage charges for any quarter, as finally determined and shown on the sewer charge bill for that quarter, the sewer base and/or usage charge may be adjusted for good cause shown, by filing first an administrative appeal to the Tax Collector and then to the Township Council upon written application of the owner or occupant after hearing on notice to the Tax Collector. However, no such application shall be considered unless it is filed with the Tax Collector within 30 days of the date of the quarterly bill in question.
Residents may apply to the Township for approval to install at their expense a second water meter in order to record outside-the-home water usage and to receive an abatement for the water which is not discharged into the sewer system.
A. 
The second meter must be a permanent meter and of equivalent quality as the existing domestic meter and must be installed in a similar manner. Installation and maintenance of the second meter is the sole responsibility of the customer. An improperly installed meter must be corrected before participation in the second meter program is approved. The use of portable meters attached to outside faucets is not permitted, except in certain instances involving the filling of a swimming pool or temporary irrigations to establish a new lawn. Residents must contact the Township to determine if a portable meter is permitted. The resident must supply a plan or sketch of the existing service showing the location of the branch for the second meter service line connection in conjunction with the existing domestic meter and internal plumbing. An initial explanation of where the water passing through the second meter goes and how the water is used must be provided with the plan.
B. 
The resident must acquire a plumbing permit from the Construction Department. The minimum plumbing permit fee is $61. Upon installation of the meter, the plumbing inspector will perform an inspection on the installation. The resident shall call (908) 859-3355, ext. 232, to schedule an appointment. The Plumbing Inspector will take an initial reading. Credit will not be given for any use prior to the initial inspection. During an initial inspection, baseline information on the meter manufacturer, size, serial number and initial reading will be obtained. After the initial inspection, Township personnel will seal the meter.
C. 
If either the city water meter or second water meter is to be removed for repair or replaced for any reason, contact the Township prior to removal for a final reading on the old meter and a baseline reading for the new meter. Meters are sealed by the Township's inspector during the initial reading. Removal of an authority seal will result in ineligibility for credit and suspension from the program. In order to reenter the program another initial reading must be taken and the meter resealed.
D. 
The Township requires that the meter be installed in an accessible location. The Township employees will not be responsible for moving any items that may be in the way of the meter. Credit is based upon the readings on the meters. If the meters are changed, the Township must verify readings or no credit can or will be given.
(1) 
Meters must be installed horizontally with no connections downstream of the second meter that passes water to any interior water outlet.
(2) 
Meter access must not be blocked by boxes, furniture or other personal items. A clear path must be provided to the meter.
(3) 
There must be at least three feet of clear space in front of the meter dial. Township personnel will not remove panels or wall sections.
(4) 
Meters cannot be installed where the dial is inverted or the view of the dial is obstructed.
(5) 
Meters cannot be installed in crawl spaces. Where second meters are installed in underground pits, the meter must not be more than 24 inches below grade. Pit covers should be free of debris and must not be covered by landscaping.
(6) 
Meters must be installed within three feet and five feet above the floor. Township employees will not climb ladders to read meters.
E. 
As part of the permitting process, the resident must provide written authorization to permit the Township personnel to enter his/her property at reasonable times and intervals to read, inspect and test the second water meter. Township personnel are ultimately responsible for their own safety on the job.
F. 
The resident shall submit a reading to the Township Sewer Collector on or before October 15 of each year. Readings must be taken by the Township Zoning Officer or another employee designated by the Township. Residents must contact the Township prior to October 15 of each year to schedule an appointment to have their second meter read. Any and all abatements may be in the form of a refund and/or a credit. The Township shall have discretion to determine whether an abatement will be paid as a refund or a credit. All credits shall be received during the fourth quarter of that year. If the amount of the credit exceeds the sewer bill for the fourth quarter, the balance of the credit shall be applied to the first quarter for the following year.
[Amended 12-4-2013 by Ord. No. 2013-13; 12-30-2013 by Ord. No. 2013-15]
G. 
Seasonal maintenance.
(1) 
Failure to properly winterize an irrigation system can damage a second meter resulting in meter failure or inaccurate recording of water usage.
(2) 
Compressed air is often used to force water from the irrigation system to prevent freezing. Excessive air pressure or flow can damage a meter's internal components. Meters that are removed for the winter to prevent freezing must be reinstalled, resealed and an initial reading must be taken in order to qualify for an annual credit.
[Added 8-5-2009 by Ord. No. 2009-10; amended 10-6-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-13]
Residents using public water to fill their swimming pools may obtain a credit towards their sewer bill for the water used to fill their pools. In order to obtain said credit, resident must submit a "sewer credit for swimming pool" application before September 30 of each year. The amount of credit will be determining by as follows:
A. 
New pool credit: A one-time credit of $75 will be given for filling a new swimming pool for the first time. This credit only applies to pools with Township building permits. It does not apply to refilling your pool. Customers that have a deduct meter are not eligible for this pool credit.
B. 
Annual pool credit: An annual credit of $35 will be given for refilling a swimming pool. This credit only applies to pools with Township building permits. Customers that have a deduct meter are not eligible for this pool credit.
[Added 11-5-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-20]
Any dispute as to the billing or charges so determined by § 183-8 as to the amount of the bill or the calculation thereof may be appealed as follows:
A. 
To a panel of the Township of Lopatcong referred to as the Sewer Appeal Panel, made up of the Township’s Sewer Engineer, the Chief Financial Officer and a Township resident.
B. 
Said appeal shall be in writing and shall be made within the timeframe set forth in § 183-10, and the decision of the Sewer Appeal Panel shall be final and binding.