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State official denies alleged sewer code violation

Tom Jackson • Dec 15, 2011 at 3:42 PM

Under fire for doing sewer work at his Kelleys Island home without a permit, an assistant director at the Ohio Department of Health is firing back.

Martin Tremmel showed up at Tuesday’s Erie County health board meeting and accused health commissioner Pete Schade of being “vindictive.”

He said Schade and Bob England, the county’s environmental health director, were engaging in a “pattern of personal attacks.”

He also threatened a lawsuit — he said he’s “weighing my legal options” and his grievances include “libel and slander, conduct unbecoming of a public official, malicious prosecution, state ethics violations, discriminatory intent, collusion” and other abuses.

After Tremmel finished reading from a prepared eight-page statement, Schade offered his take.

The health department has done nothing wrong, Schade said, and he still expects Tremmel to bring his sewer system up to code.

Last month, Schade criticized Tremmel — who has served on a state technical advisory committee dealing with household sewer systems — for failing to obtain a permit to modify the sewer system at his $466,000 home on Kelleys Island.

Tremmel is also battling separate accusations he failed to obtain a permit to build a fence and pool on the property.

He lost another legal battle a few years ago when he tried to register to vote on the island. Erie County’s elections board determined he actually lives in Columbus.

As one of the state’s top experts on private sewer systems, Tremmel knew he had to obtain a permit when he modified the sewer system, Schade said.

Tremmel conceded he “probably” should have known better, but he said he never intended to violate the law and his failure to get a permit was an oversight.

He also accused Schade of trying to damage his reputation and complained the county health officials sent a letter to the state health office where he works, rather than to his home.

Tremmel insisted  nothing in the law requires him to do further work on his sewer system.

He said he was particularly upset the county health department pointed to aerial photographs of his property to show he had carried out the sewer work.

Tremmel said he was “very troubled” the health department was taking such pictures.

The health department, however, actually used aerial photos that are publicly available on the county auditor’s website, Schade said.

“He knows those pictures are on there,” Schade said.

England said he believes the code requires Tremmel to modernize his sewer system.

“He should probably read our rules,” England said.

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