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Inn's sewage woes revisited

Health officials contemplate penalties, saying the Bayport Inn has not honored a cleanup agreement.

By JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 29, 2000


BAYPORT -- County Health Department officials were contemplating further action against the Bayport Inn late Friday after learning the inn's owners had not complied with a cleanup agreement reached a week earlier.

The sides struck a deal about three weeks after a Health Department inspector discovered a pipe that he said was pumping sewage from the inn to a neighboring property. A circuit judge was getting ready to decide whether to close the inn at the Health Department's request when the accord was announced.

photo
[Times photo: Maurice Rivenbark]
The Bayport Inn was supposed to clean up a neighbor's land, install a temporary wastewater system and reduce septic flow.
The terms called for the inn to sanitize the neighbor's land, install a temporary wastewater system pending connection to county sewer service and limit its septic flow by closing its hotel rooms and reducing its restaurant seating capacity to 125. The inn's owners had until Wednesday to apply for the appropriate permits, and they were to close shop until the plumbing work was done.

None of that happened, said Al Gray, environmental health manager for the Health Department. "I counted 245 seats, and they're licensed for 175 on their (Division of) Hotels and Restaurants license," Gray said. "The motel appeared open, too."

He said the inn's plumbing permit application was incomplete, lacking a site plan. The plumbing work had not been completed, he said, and the restaurant remained open.

"I informed the manager they're out of compliance with the settlement agreement and contacted" the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Gray said. He also was drafting a memo to Health Department lawyers seeking advice.

DBPR spokesman Judd Bagley said his department, which oversees the Division of Hotels and Restaurants, learned of the "alleged noncompliance" late Friday and had not made an independent confirmation.

"We are sending an inspector out to take a look and see for ourselves, to see how it applies, if it does at all, to our role as restaurant regulators," Bagley said.

The DBPR has given the Bayport Inn until Aug. 7 to comply with the Health Department's order to take care of its wastewater disposal problems. The state Department of Environmental Protection also is investigating whether the inn committed any environmental violations, and the county Development Department is looking into whether the inn has made any additions or improvements without permits.

Bayport Inn owner Bruce Hammond, general manager Lauren Murphy and attorney Tom Hersem were not available for comment.

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