HARVARD -- A dispute was brought to the Board of Health about the paperwork needed to certify that a septic system has been installed per the Title V health code.

While a homeowner needs certification in order to sell the home, the installer wants payment for the work first.

A complaint by 29 Shaker Road homeowner Benjamin Hill stated that the licensed installer of his septic system, Gary Smith, would not provide needed paperwork until Hill paid him.

"I do this for a living," answered Smith at the Aug. 13 meeting. "I built the septic system to 100 percent of the plan that we presented to (the Board of Health and they) approved in December. I have an as-built that I would love to give to you. I need to get paid for the work I did first," Smith said.

Hill argued that Smith is obligated to provide the proper documentation if he is the installer. Smith argued that another individual worked on the septic system, in addition to him, and that he is not obligated to provide the paperwork until he is paid.

The whole matter was further complicated because the third party worked on the septic system after Smith had done his work, leaving a gray area as to who is responsible for what documentation.

"In my opinion, the installer is not obligated to submit the certificate of compliance because the final work was not done under his control," Nashoba Associated Boards of Health sanitarian, Ira Grossman, said to the board.

Hill's lawyer said Hill is scheduled to close on this property on Aug.


21 and he needs the certificate of compliance in order to do that, but Smith is not willing to deliver the paperwork needed.

Hill asked the board, "Is Mr. Smith required to submit any documentation or certificates to the board in order for the certificate of compliance to be issued or is he not? If he is, it's holding up the sale of the property."

Grossman said, "The short answer is that we do need the certificate or the as-built and certificate from the installer as well as the engineer. To get to that point is really clouded, and you may need to go to a public hearing."

Tom Philippou, chairman of the Board of Health, suggested that the parties come up with a document stating who exactly did what work on the system.

Grossman suggested that both individuals come up with all of the documentation if they cannot clarify exactly who did what.

"From the board's perspective," Philippou said, "since this is an unusual circumstance, we would have to get clarification from our attorney as to whether or not it is even appropriate to do that and what the official Title V definitions of the system are.

"To my understanding," he continued, "septic plans include everything from excavation to the final grading, and if that is the plan, and it wasn't completed in its entirety, then there may not be a plan in existence, and it may need to be completely redone."

Hill asked if it is possible for Smith to use money as leverage if he is required to provide the documentation.

Health board member Lorin Johnson said, "This really feels to me that this whole scenario is out of Title 5. We aren't here to make the kind of decisions that you are asking us to make. This is a disagreement between two parties," he said.

Both parties will bring the matter to a hearing at the next Board of Health meeting, tentatively set for Aug. 27.

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