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The Tai and Adele Aguirre Story

When Tai and Adele Aguirre renovated their home in upstate New York in 1994, little did they know that it would mark the beginning of a three-year legal nightmare with New York City bureaucrats that would nearly cost them their livelihood.

Tai and Adele moved from Queens to Putnam County, 100 miles from New York City, and purchased a dilapidated two-bedroom bungalow for renovation. The couple planned to use the bungalow as a residence and place of business. They received the necessary approvals for the renovation work. Both the Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH) and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) inspected the home's septic tank on numerous occasions and found it to be in good operating condition.

But then the NYCDEP unexpectedly sued the Aguirres, claiming that their septic tank did not meet state standards. The NYCDEP argued that the septic system was insufficient for a four-bedroom house. The Aguirres only had two bedrooms.

"They sued us over a septic system that was examined by them and found to be working perfectly," says Tai Aguirre who was perplexed by the NYCDEP's sudden change of mind.

According to the Atlantic Legal Foundation, which represented the couple, by suing the Aguirres, New York City hoped to set a precedent in state supreme court allowing the city to regulate land use and development 100 miles from the city.

The Aguirres refused to back down and waged a media campaign to publicize the NYCDEP's tactics. Although they had to spend thousands, the Aguirres were able to put the city on the defensive. A spokeswoman for the NYCDEP severely hurt the agency's credibility when she claimed that although the Aguirres' septic tank was in good condition now, she argued, "Some day in the future a septic could break down." The Aguirres used statements like this one to sway public opinion in their favor.

In April 1998, the NYCDEP dropped its lawsuit. "It's ironic that the terms of the settlement stipulated that we pump the septic tank less frequently than we already have been doing," says Tai Aguirre. "So why all these years of harassment and waste of taxpayer dollars?"
Source: Tai Aguirre: For more information contact Taivid Media 914 422 1990