I have one of those neighbors. Couple of weeks ago I posted here about
an old abandoned sepic tank caving in. I filled it with bolders,
stones and sand. It is solid so no one will fall in. My neighbor told
me that I should have called clean harbor an have it removed at a huge
cost. The truth is that there is nothing to remove. The steel tank has
disintegrated. There has been no sewage in this tank for over 60
years. Why is this considered a health hazzard? If I try to sell my
house my neighbor will probably mention it to any prospective buyer
(or the person who eventually buys it). I'm not sure how he found out
about it. By the way, I live in New Hampsire. Not sure what the laws
are regarding this.
If you are lucky, you'll out live him and it won't matter. Since it is
filled, I doubt you'd have any problems if he did try to make a stink about
it. No reason to call Clean Harbors and pay a lot of money for nothing.
Part of this thread was one fellow stating he was not about to fill in his
tank, it did not matter, etc. On the news yesterday, a horse fell into an
abandoned tank here in CT. Killingsworth, IIRC. It was quite a project to
get the horse lifted out with a tow truck.
You might call a septic company, tell them what you have and
have someone come out and give you some options. Otherwise,
there is not much you can do.
Since I am a contractor, I have to do things correctly or I
will be in a lot of trouble. Homeowners don't worry so much
about this, so they tend to get into expensive situations when
they could have done the right thing far less expensively.
A client had an old well. It had to be plugged because it was
within 500 feet of a new gas station. He didn't want to pay
the 1200 bucks to have it plugged, so he cut the pump line
loose and let it all fall into the well. When the inspector
found the well, due to excavation on the site, he called the
TNRCC and reported it. Well company came out and spent 2 days
fishing out the old pump, plugging the well and charged $5,000
for the privilege.
I don't know what will happen in your case. It may be that
the septic company will come out and do an inspection and
suggest filling with sand. OTOH, they may require the tank to
be excavated, pumped out and filled. Just call someone and
ask what they think should be done. They will not report you
to the authorities, regardless. At least you will know what
you are up against. Might be nothing.
Really good advice. If there is an issue - fix it. Not everyone subscribes to
the "I'll look the other way while you pull your shit and you'll look the other
way while I pull mine" ethic. On the other hand, you don't have to do it to the
nth degree and necessarily do what the neighbor says - you only need to meet
codes and regulations.
I'd check with the town or munincipality also to see what the requirements and
get a hardcopy of them. Keep records of any work you have done along with that
copy of the codes. Then you'll be protected against any ill intention on the
part of any neighbor, and you can inform this particular neighbor of the
legality of the (fixed) condition of your old septic.
But there's really no way around doing things right. So educate yourself, fix
it if necessary, then educate your neighbor.
There is no jurisdiction that recognizes reporting a violation as 'harassment'.
The neighbor seems informed, so I really doubt this would work as an
intimidation tactic. Indeed, our poster might find out what *else* the neighbor
*had* been quietly putting up with for the sake of neighborly relations, if he
were to follow your advice!
I agree with Robert. The most important thing to find out is what
the local requirements are. And I would do that discreetly. As
suggested, calling a company that deals with septic tanks is one
way. You could also call town hall and say you're looking at buying
a property that has an old septic tank, etc and ask what the deal is.
I'd also get a copy of any state disclosure sheet that is used for
real estate sales and see what questions are on it.
And I agree with the OP, that if he filled it in with sound material,
I don't see it as a real issue of any kind. It wouldn't bother me as
a purchaser. However, what the local law says may be another matter.
I have found that the septic companies KNOW what the
requirements are and are really good at letting you know what
your options are. After all, that is their business. They
have often helped me to do things much less expensively. The
authorities generally aren't much help in determining exactly
what CAN be done. They are good at inspecting and approving
work, but not in deciding what work to do.
Then find out what the laws and ordinances are. You might actually be OK. Then
you can educate your neighbor, and that will be the end of it.
Otherwise, fix it. It would have to be disclosed anyway, in NH?
First, the obvious -- call the local health authority, whether it be
county or city and ask. If you're that concerned about disclosing it,
look it up on the state web site. I strongly expect that having
filled it conscientiously you'll be fine but if it's bugging you to
not know, then find out from local authority what the local
As for disclosure, as in most places I'd be pretty sure there's a
"full disclosure" law in NH as in most (if not all) states that
requires all known situations be made known to a potential buyer.
You're far worse off in not disclosing something and having it come
out opening yourself for liability as well as violation of the
disclosure laws than possibly could be for be upfront.
As for the nosy neighbor, if you're up front an honest, what can he/
she do to harm? You can't prevent them from talking to anybody so you
may as well do the right thing (tm) and get on w/ it...
imo, ymmv, $0.02, etc., etc., ...
So, you basically filled an old empty, dry, hole with rock. There's no
problem that I see. Let it lawn over and the neighbor won't have a leg to
stand on. Anyone wanting to snoop will need a search warrant.
"mstrspy" < firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote in message
So, you're familiar with the laws specific to abandoned septic tanks
in his town in NH?
Let it lawn over and the neighbor won't have a leg to
He has a leg to stand on if the law wasn't followed and he reports
it. Not saying this is true, but it sure is possible, unless you know
the law and whether what he did met the reqts of the law.
I seriously doubt a municipal code or health official needs a search
warrant to enter a yard to look at a reported health/safety problem.
They aren't entering the domicile and it's a public health issue.
Pursuant to Camara v. Municipal Court of City and County of San
Francisco, 387 U. S. 523 (1967) public officials do need a warrant to
enter private property if the owner does not consent to their entry.
The rest of the story is that the US Supreme Court ruled that the only
probable cause needed is the need to conduct public safety inspections.
The upshot of their decision is that warrants are required but they are
easy to get.
Well we aren\'t no thin blue heroes and yet we aren\'t no blackguards to.
New buyers won't need a search warrant, their home inspector won't need a search
warrant. Town authorities won't need a search warrant. There's no search
warranted needed for new buyers and said neighbor to converse, and take action
if this problem isn't disclosed.
The search warrant thing addresses none of the concern he should have if this
isn't done to code.
In my area you only need to pump it out and then collapse the concrete tank
in on itself when running the sewer line through it then filled with fill. I
imagine steel tanks would get the same treatment because they are mostly
rust and could never stand being removed.
Another sign of the jailhouse "no snitch" ethic of the "I'll look away from your
transgressions if you look away from mine" kind of neighbor.
You may not believe it, but there stands a real good chance that this neighbor
fixes what needs to be fixed, to code, on his own property, and follows
ordinances (no loose dogs, no crazy Sat. 1am noises), and therefore has no
particular "dirt" for folks like the poster (or you) to "dig up on him".
*Most* people have no or few, minor code stuff going on that's not grandfathered
or something like that (no violation).
So there's no sitting pretty digging dirt on someone to intimidate them into
Banty (some folks just amaze me...)
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