ATLANTIC CITY — A hearing in a downtown courtroom Monday may have been the low point in the short, ruinous history of Revel Casino Hotel, as the property — already cold, dark and running on limited electricity — was on the verge of having a local sewerage company plug the disused resort’s wastewater pipes over a fee dispute.
Instead, a state court judge ordered Revel’s new owner to put $140,000 in escrow and scheduled another hearing for January.
Atlantic City Sewerage Co. wanted a court order allowing it to terminate service to the 6.2 million-square-foot property, claiming Polo North Country Club Inc. hasn’t paid a cent for wastewater service since buying the building for $82 million in April.
A lawsuit filed by the utility in September said Polo North owes about $162,000 for sewerage service.
Much of that bill is based on a fixed fee charged for metering equipment installed at Revel prior to Polo North’s purchase.
Polo North’s attorney, Fred Shenkman, on Monday said Polo North never asked for that equipment and that it’s far larger than what’s currently required at the property. He told Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Julio Mendez that the Boardwalk property, which has been closed to the public for more than a year, discharges virtually no wastewater.
“The water that’s there is for sprinkling about 100,000 plants outside,” he said.
Ira Megdal, an attorney for the utility, said his client’s 7,500 mostly residential customers will see their bills increase if the company can’t collect what it’s owed and is forced to keep providing uncompensated service at the Revel complex, which includes New Jersey’s second-tallest building.
“If Polo North doesn’t pay its costs, then the company will recover its costs elsewhere,” he told Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Julio Mendez. Disconnecting delinquent customers, Megdal said, is “the only way you can be in this business.”
Mendez decided, for now, against giving the utility permission to plug Revel’s pipes and instead gave Polo North 15 days to put $140,000 in escrow, where it will be held as the parties litigate the accuracy of the bill.
In another case, a bank says Polo North owes $1 million for energy service. The Bank of New York Mellon represents holders of $118.6 million in bonds used to build a power plant across the street from Revel.