Warriors Mark Township developer complying with DEP order

A Warriors Mark Township developer, John Gilliland, is complying with a March 2 order issued by the state Department of Environmental Protection, according to a spokesperson.
“He is complying and wants to do so,” said Rebecca Walter during a recent phone interview with The Daily Herald. “He decided against appealing the decision.”
Walter explained a walkthrough of some of the properties named in the order was done with representatives of the DEP and the developer in late March. Township officials were not on hand during the inspection of Gilliland’s property, according to Walter.
She noted the only area of concern found was one location at Hickory Ridge II along Dry Hollow Road involving one or two lots and surface septic debris.
“They went through all of the properties and that was the only thing they found,” said Walter.
“I really don’t know how they will handle it from here.”
An article published earlier this year in The Huntingdon Daily News and reprinted in The Daily Herald in February stated, in December 2003 the DEP imposed a $40,000 fine against a Blair County waste hauler for illegally dumping solid waste from “job johnnies” and septic tanks on three different properties — two in Blair County and another in Warriors Mark Township.
In addition to the fine, Richard and Vera Barefoot of Barefoot Sanitary Service and R. W. Barefoot Inc. were ordered by DEP to “cease and desist collecting, transporting and disposing of sewage waste” and were made to liquidate their business assets — in effect, shutting down the company. The decision affected some of Gilliland’s properties and has brought development of the properties to a virtual standstill.
According to The Huntingdon Daily News article, a DEP representative, Karen Sitler, said at least one of Mr. Gilliland’s properties was being used by Barefoot to dump raw, untreated sewage waste illegally.
The company took DEP officials to various locations on Gilliland’s property and identified them as dumpsites during an investigation.
Barefoot officials indicated the dumping was done “with Mr. Gilliland’s knowledge and permission.”
Gilliland never obtained National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits for stormwater discharges for any of the proposed subdivisions, nor did he secure sewage facilities plans, according to Sitler.
She explained such permits are required when anyone submits a residential development proposal to a municipal planning commission in the commonwealth.
Huntingdon County planners expressed other concerns with some of Gilliland’s proposed developments and forwarded those to the Warriors Mark supervisors.
Eric Laur, a soil scientist with the DEP, explained where things go from here.
“The investigation is still continuing,” said Laur. “There is evidence of dumping on the Gilliland property but to what extent we haven’t determined yet. (As required by the order) we have received a site characterization plan from Gilliland and Barefoot and we are reviewing it.”
The plan summarizes the measures that will be taken to determine the extent any soil, surface water and groundwater contamination caused by unlawful disposal of residential septage and portable toilet waste.
Laur explained the DEP wanted to do the walkthrough as part of the site characterization plan.
Walter had expressed concern at this month’s township meeting about how the supervisors were handling requests for building permits regarding the properties. During a conversation with supervisor Don Bickle she was advised to contact Joe Hall, sewage enforcement officer, about the issuing of a permit. Since that time, the supervisors have implemented a new procedure regarding subdivisions owned or transferred to new ownership by Gilliland.
Attorney Larry Clapper explained anyone who contacts the township requesting a building permit for any property owned or previously owned by Gilliland is being instructed to contact, Dukes Pepper, the assistant counsel for DEP.
Walter asked if she could have the procedure in writing; however, no such agreement was given to her at the meeting. Instead, Walter forwarded a letter to Clapper dated the day after the April 6 meeting restating the verbal instructions.
“We had been advised not to issue permits in the areas that have been flagged because DEP hadn’t issued its permits,” said Stewart Neff, chairman of the Warriors Mark supervisors. “There was a lack of information on what should be done and a couple of months back supervisor Bickle referred a building permit issue to Mr. Hall. There was some confusion on our part.”
“I am very disappointed with the unprofessional and inconsistent information provided by the township,” said Walter. “I think it’s unreasonable and I don’t think they have treated Mr. Gilliland fairly and never have.”
Walter also explained several other concerns at the meeting and in a letter sent to Neff.
She indicated she had received a lack of response from the township recently and learned at the meeting the township e-mail address had been abandoned with no notice to the community.
She also detailed concerns with issues regarding her own personal property and questioned the township’s sewage enforcement officer and his involvement with the DEP investigation, which in Walter’s opinion, may affect his ability to be fair and impartial. She went so far as to request an alternate sewage enforcement officer for this and other reasons.
Her request was not agreed to by the supervisors and solicitor Clapper offered his opinion on the issue.
“I don’t think there was a conflict of interest, said Clapper. I think she is unhappy with some of Mr. Hall’s decisions.”