developer protects wetlands to settle clean water violations
The owner and general contractor of a residential
development in Ayer, Massachusetts, have agreed to pay a penalty
of $27,500 and to donate a 7.6 acre parcel to the town to settle
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims that they discharged
pollutants into nearby waters without the required stormwater
permit and failed to apply for this permit.
According to the agreement signed recently with EPA’s New England
office, Crabtree Development will give the town 7.6 acres of
the Pingry Hill development. This parcel, which is largely wetlands
but also contains some upland areas, will be protected from development
and used for educational purposes by the Ayer Conservation Commission.
About 31 acres have already been disturbed in developing Pingry
Hill and the entire project is expected to disturb 135 acres.
EPA inspections in June 2009 found stormwater containing sand,
dirt, sediment, suspended solids, residues of construction material
and turbidity running off the site into nearby waters. At a follow-up
inspection in December 2009, many issues had not been corrected.
Although construction began in September 2007, Crabtree did not
apply for the required National Pollutant Discharge Elimination
System General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Construction
Site Activities until January 2010.
“The wetlands being donated to the town have significant environmental
value for flood control, pollutant reduction, habitat and education,”
said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England
office. “The flood and pollutant control benefits will help offset
some of the effects of the development.”
Construction activities (including other land-disturbing activities)
that disturb one acre or more are regulated under the NPDES storm
water program. In Massachusetts, operators of regulated construction
sites are required to develop and implement Storm Water Pollution
Plans (SWPPPs) and to obtain permit coverage from EPA prior to
commencement of construction activity.