No Pool For Rule Breaker

From the Record/Herald:

Feud keeps Ridgefield family from using pool

Theodoros “Ted” Papas has the nicest pool on the block.

His 5-year-old daughter calls it “the beach.” Some in the neighborhood call it the “Taj Mahal” of pools.

But no one is wiling away the hot summer days in the $80,000 oasis, built on the edge of a 30-foot cliff in Ridgefield.

Papas and his family have been banned from the back yard because of an escalating spat with borough officials and his neighbor, Joseph N. Deguilmo.

Officials revoked permits for the pool and deck, saying a former building official mistakenly overlooked deviations from the original building plans. They have fined Papas $6,000 for three building violations, plus another $1,500 every day the pool remains out of compliance – and they have banned him from his own back yard until the violations are resolved.

The pool fight came to a head on Father’s Day, when Papas illegally held a party with about 10 friends and their children. Deguilmo called police, who visited the home three times to order the guests out of the pool. On the third trip, police posted a red sign on a gate entrance to the back yard, signaling it was off-limits.

Ridgefield officials say Theodoros “Ted” Papas violated the following three ordinances:

Building a fence higher than 6 feet. The retaining wall around the pool is double that in some places, the borough says.

Paving more than 40 percent of a back yard with impervious materials. The area around the pool is covered with brick pavers.

Building without a permit. Papas moved part of the retaining wall to satisfy the borough but failed to get a permit first.

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24 Responses to No Pool For Rule Breaker

  1. Anonymous says:

    Toms River, NJ: Officials: New testing proves leak at Ciba site

    Company denies link to pollution
    Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 06/23/06

    DOVER TOWNSHIP — Groundwater testing conducted at the former Ciba-Geigy Corp. Superfund site shows a lined landfill on the property is leaking, presenting a “substantial environmental health hazard,” township officials said Thursday.

    Mayor Paul C. Brush and Council President Gregory P. McGuckin contend that the test results will bolster Dover’s efforts to force Ciba to remove more than 35,000 drums from the lined landfill.

    “We’ve contended all along that there is a problem with Cell 1 out there,” Brush said, referring to a lined landfill on the land now owned by Ciba Specialty Chemicals Corp. “Our two scientists have taken tests, and the tests confirm what we’ve said all along.”

    McGuckin said Ciba’s contention that groundwater pollution in the area cannot be linked to the landfill is not viable.

    “They admit there is a plume of contamination, and that plume just happens to be under, around and next to Cell 1. But it’s not coming from Cell 1, according to Ciba,” McGuckin said. “I say, “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a duck.’ ”

    Carcinogens found

    McGuckin and Brush, along with the rest of the Township Council, received a closed-session presentation Tuesday on the experts’ findings. They said Thursday that the testing showed that several hazardous materials, including known carcinogens, were found in the water samples, which they plan to turn over to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

    In their joint statement, McGuckin and Brush stressed that the contaminants they contend are leaking from Cell 1 do not appear to jeopardize the public water supply. They expressed concern, however, that the pollutants could pose a risk to irrigation wells in the neighborhood.

    Ciba Specialty Chemicals spokeswoman Donna M. Jakubowski said the township still cannot prove that the pollutants come from the landfill.

    “The existence of contaminants is not proof that the landfill is leaking,” Jakubowski said. “We know that there is groundwater contamination at the site. That is why we have the pump-and-treat system.”

    Jakubowski was referring to the massive groundwater cleanup that is ongoing at the Ciba site, which includes pumping more than 2 million gallons of water from the ground each day, treating it to remove pollutants, and then depositing the water on the site’s northeast corner.

    Past problems

    The pollution is the result of Ciba’s former industrial-dye and resin-making operations. The 1,350-acre Ciba property has been on the federal Superfund list since 1982. All production work ceased on the site in December 1996.

    Ciba is paying for the cleanup of pollution source areas on its property, and last year more than 40,000 drums were removed from an unlined landfill on the site. The drums were taken from the ground, opened to determine their contents, and then hauled off-site for disposal.

    The company is also using the bioremediation process to remove contaminants from polluted soil on its property. The process relies on bacteria that already exist at the Ciba site to break down and remove pollutants.

    But Ciba officials have contended for years that the lined landfill, which is thought to contain about 38,000 drums of waste, is functioning properly and should not be disturbed. Township officials contend that the landfill is leaking and will eventually present a health hazard to Dover residents.

    Political squabbling

    In 2003, the Township Committee, led by Mayor John F. Russo Jr., filed suit against Ciba Specialty Chemicals Corp. in an effort to have the drums removed. The lawsuit was criticized by Brush, who ran against and eventually defeated Russo in a bitter election campaign.

    After his election, Brush, who had initially vowed to stop the lawsuit, said that after he received more information from the township’s environmental attorney, he decided the suit should continue.

    A court order stemming from the lawsuit allowed the township’s experts onto the Ciba property in late April to perform the groundwater sampling.

    “All that we said in 2003 has now been borne out by the expert report and the testing that has just been completed by the town,” Russo said Thursday. “The landfill is leaking, and that was what we contended when we filed the suit.”

    The landfill, which receives a monitoring permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection, was never licensed to accept hazardous waste. But DEP officials have said it is clear that hazardous substances were dumped there while the landfill was operating, between 1977 and 1982.

    A concerned community

    Bruce Anderson, who is president of Toxic Environment Affects Children’s Health, a group formed by families of children with cancer, said the groundwater testing results confirm what he has believed for almost a decade: that the lined landfill is leaking.

    “I think it’s very important for the community to have these drums removed to protect the children and the community as a whole,” Anderson said. “These drums need to be removed because they contain highly toxic waste.”

    Anderson and his family have been demanding the removal of the Ciba drums for years and have occasionally picketed by the company’s Oak Ridge Parkway entrance in an effort to draw attention to the issue.

    Last year, then-DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell sided with the township and threatened Ciba with litigation if the drums were not removed from the landfill. Dover officials are hopeful that Campbell’s successor, Lisa P. Jackson, will take a similar stance.

    Campbell noted in a letter to Ciba officials that the landfill’s liner was not meant to resist the corrosive effects of some of the hazardous wastes dumped there. Ciba countered that the landfill’s cap and containment system was improved in the early 1990s and that Campbell was relying on outdated data.

    Brush said it is time for Ciba to work with the township to remove the drums.

    “They have a legal and moral obligation to our residents to clean up Cell 1,” the mayor said. “They’ve been a corporate resident of this town for more than 50 years and they’ve done a lot of damage to this town.”

  2. Sounds like his neighbor is jealous of his pool

    I wish neighbors would just mind their own business

  3. UnRealtor says:

    While I sympathize with this pool owner, his pool is essentially a “liquid McMansion,” and he’s not immune for the rules everyone else must follow.

    Best to buy a copy of the local building code. The town hall should have a copy.

  4. Anonymous says:

    talk about a grumpy old man

  5. Anonymous says:

    “The pool fight came to a head on Father’s Day, when Papas illegally held a party with about 10 friends and their children. Deguilmo called police, who visited the home three times to order the guests out of the pool.”
    Cab ayyone help me understand “How the said party is being called illegal?”

  6. UnRealtor says:

    “At issue is the length Papas went to claim a staple of affluent suburban life in this tightly packed neighborhood of single-family homes along Edgewater Avenue.

    His back yard was previously a steep slope leading to a row of homes 30 feet below.

    Papas, 35 and the owner of a construction company, trucked in tons of dirt and rocks to level the slope, making his back yard an elevated plateau up to a dozen feet above his neighbors’ land on each side.

    The 4-foot deep, 25,000-gallon pool covers more than half of the back yard and is about the size of seven small parking spaces. Water cascades down a plastic fountain waterfall on one side of the pool, just next to an outdoor shower.

    The remaining backyard area is covered with brick pavers and a deck the length of the house.”

    I’d be pretty PO’d too if my neighbor built a 12 foot retaining wall on my property line.

  7. Anonymous says:

    These seem to be reasonable rules that the town has. I sure wouldn’t want an anything gos attitude in my town.

    Are there any pictures out there of it?

  8. grim says:

    Having the party wasn’t illegal.

    The problem was he had it in his backyard, after he was banned from using it. Seems he has been pretty cavalier about breaking the law.

    Heck, even the article talks about him doing it.

    Despite the ban, on Wednesday, Papas took a visitor into his back yard and opened a pool shed. Children’s inflatable pool toys spilled out.

    Seems high fences don’t make good neighbors..


  9. buyanewhome says:

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  10. Are there any pictures out there of it?

    Click on the article that Grim posted for a pic.

    Seems high fences don’t make good neighbors..
    Even when they’re 6′ and on top of a 6′ retaining wall!

    “retaining walls and fencing that support and surround the elevated back yard are too high, officials said. On top of the 6-foot brick wall is a 6-foot white fence.

    Borough regulations limit fences to 6 feet.”

    To those who think the neighbor is just a cranky old man, consider the the room you’re in right now is about 8′ tall. Then imagine if it was another 4′ tall.
    It’s like having one of those walls they build along the highway to block out the traffic noise (and sun).

  11. Metroplexual says:

    Ignore building codes at your own peril. They will get you eventually.

  12. Anonymous says:

    correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t the bldg official who later resigned approve it? and wasn’t it the building official who made the mistake here?
    the article went on to say that when the official resigned, papas urged the new official to check it out who then revoked the permit.
    his violation on building without a permit was to comply with the “new” rules. from his standpoint it was new because he wasn’t told about it in the beginning.
    sounds like papas is going to pay a hefty price for one guy’s oversight.

  13. Anonymous says:

    the guy requests for a permit. he is given a permit. he goes ahead and builds a pool. his daughters and other kids come over to enjoy it.
    what an a__.

  14. Grim Ghost says:

    I was reading a book on building codes that mentioned that every line in the code corresponded to a dead body. [ A little exaggeration, but not totally so]. Most building codes exist for a reason.

    And moving a retaining wall without a permission can be a serious issue. You can do real damage to a neighbors property, water drainage and the like. I sympathize with the owner to some extend if he got his plans passed originally, but he’s a professional builder, he should know whats allowed and whats not !!

  15. UnRealtor says:

    “I think I need more pics other than that one, perhaps the newspaper should show the view from the nieghbors house instead of the pool owner.”

    I’d like to see a photo taken from the neighbors below, who see a 12 foot retaining wall, with a 6 foot fence on top.

    That’s an 18 foot barrier — must feel like living in a prison cell.

  16. Yes, the article says the former inspector approved it. (Makes me wonder why he resigned so quickly. Bribes?)
    So I would hazard to guess that makes the town culpable as well. I feel both the town and the owner should shoulder the cost in either removing the pool or making changes to bring it to code.

    But it seems the owner (Papas) didn’t follow the submitted plans, “…saying a former building official mistakenly overlooked deviations from the original building plans.”

    And he didn’t have the new inspector return to the property, the neighbor (Deguilmo) did, “…Armand Marini, revisited the Papas back yard at Deguilmo’s urging and found several violations.”

    And when Papas claims to have done work this year to comply, he didn’t have a permit, “…Marini revoked all permits for the pool and deck in February. That meant Papas was no longer allowed in his back yard.”

    See, reading comprehension is important.

    Both parties come across badly, but I’m sure it has to do with the “bad blood” between them.
    I don’t think Papas is the innocent victim he tries to portray. Simply, he didn’t follow the submitted plans.
    And Deguilmo seems to be so upset about the 12 FOOT WALL that was put up along his property line that he comes across poorly.

    Also, the view in the picture is from the neighbor’s house.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Will someone please explain what this means:

    “Despite the ban, on Wednesday, Papas took a visitor into his back yard and opened a pool shed. Children’s inflatable pool toys spilled out.

    “These are floaties,” he said. They are ‘not hooker toys.’ ”

    What the bleep?

  18. “These are floaties,” he said. They are ‘not hooker toys.’ ”

    What the bleep?

    His retort to his neighbors complaint about noisy partygoers from “as far away as New York”.

    They both come across real bitter in this article.

  19. Anonymous says:


    See, reading comprehension is important

    LOL! my bad. thanks for pointing that out.

  20. The real question is, why would anyone want to spend $80K on a pool especially when the house is in Ridgefield?

  21. UnRealtor says:

    Papas: Maas

    Deguilmo: No Maas

  22. Metroplexual says:

    Grim GHost,

    Absolutely, if he was a regular guy I would have some sympathy. He totally did this to himself. I hope they make him take it apart.

  23. Another loss for Papas:

    RIDGEFIELD — To hear Theodoros “Ted” Papas tell it, his family lost two weeks of summer on Monday.

    That’s because a state Superior Court judge denied the family’s bid for temporary access to its back yard, meaning an $80,000 cliffside pool will remain off-limits at least until a hearing scheduled for July 11

  24. Well being says:

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