Thursday, February 25, 2010

Easton Place citizen complaint 02/24/10

Easton Place citizen complaint

On 02/20,21,22/10, Easton Place, ALR16EAAY, had the following violations…

Failed to properly install and maintain BMPs
All BMPs were either failing or non-existent.
Failed to contain construction debris.
Allowed off-site tracking of mud and construction debris into streets.
Failed to provide adequate ground cover throughout the entire development.
Failed to provide approved gravel drive entrances to construction sites.
Failed to provide adequate stormwater inlet protection.
Failed to provide sediment basin.
All drainage from this site enters the unnamed tributary of Cottondale Creek untreated.
Failed to provide adequate slope grade vegetation.
On 02/22/10, allowed turbid, silt laden water to leave the site into the unnamed tributary of Cottondale Creek.
This developer has been operating since 03/09 with no NPDES permit. All discharges into the unnamed tributary to Cottondale Creek have been “unpermitted discharges.”
All ongoing construction is via Tuscaloosa City permit while NPDES is invalid.
 On 02/20/10, I flew over the site and photographed many issues.

1.     Offsite tracking was evident and throughout the completed section of residences.

2.     Multiple inlet boxes with no protection.

3.     Ground cover throughout the entire site is too sparse and has not been kept consistent.

4.     Slopes surrounding the site are bare in many places with failing or non-existent BMPs.

a.     Slopes noted by Ms. Janna McIndoe on 01/25, 08/08, and in an NOV dated 09/12/08 are still bare and badly eroded. It is quite evident that this developer fears no repercussions for his lack of compliance.

b.     Dirt piles noted in the same inspections by JM are still there and unprotected.

On 02/21/10 I returned to the site to ground-truth my photos and found the same conditions listed above. There was evidence in many places to indicate where concrete trucks have been using this site for washing trucks for some time.

On 02/22/10, Tuscaloosa received 0.16-inch rain. I visited the Easton Place site and found the following violations.

1.     Turbidity and siltation in the unnamed tributary of Cottondale Creek.

2.     Many BMPs failing on previous visits had not been repaired or replaced.

3.     BMPs that were non-existent were still missing.

4.     Construction debris was in the streets and creek.

5.     Off site tracking was evident at every construction location.

6.     Inlets that were not protected on previous visits were still unprotected.

7.     Slope grades still unprotected.

8.     Major erosion into unnamed tributary to Cottondale Creek

9.     Exposed dirt storage piles.

10.  No NPDES

 In all, I found many of the exact same issues during these last visits that were present since construction began. There seems to be an attitude of non-compliance with this developer, as with most in Tuscaloosa. It is my opinion that this comes from the lack of diligence by the city of Tuscaloosa over single homebuilders and ADEM for overall site compliance. Neither enforcement branch has demonstrated the will and or ability to issue adequate enforcement. All of the above mentioned violations were also noted by ADEM inspector, Janna McIndoe in reports 01/25/08 and again in an inspection report dated 08//0808/. There is no record of any follow-up by ADEM since 09/12/08. In fact, there are only 14 files in the entire folder.
Previous complaints issued by FoHC, 08/23,26/08 (not on record in ADEM files) noted the exact same conditions that exist today. ADEM nor the city of Tuscaloosa have taken any deterrent action. No fines, no follow-up to compliance orders, no penalties, no compliance has been noted at this site. It is and has been in a constant state of violation because, in my opinion, it is cheaper to violate the law than to obey. If there is no consequence to match the violations, there is no accountability.

The city of Tuscaloosa issues every house-building permit on the site. They have the ability and authority to demand $500.00 per day, per violation. Since late 2007 there has NEVER been a single fine issued or collected in the Cottondale Creek Basin on record. There has been no attempt by Tuscaloosa engineers or planners to address the 32% reduction called for in the TMDL for Hurricane Creek. All of this is direct evidence of non-complaint behavior on the part of Tuscaloosa as well as the developer.

ADEM, for the most part has been completely impotent in causing any deterrent to Trick Construction and or Burns Construction (partners at Covington Villas,  ALR164521) and their consistent non-complaint behavior. Warnings and orders issued are ignored for the most part. Even EPA Region 4 has had little effect of the conditions of the sites. (Burns is also owner of Jamestown Villas, ALR16ECN5)

 Until Tuscaloosa, ADEM, and EPA step up to the plate and penalize these consistent violations, they will never stop.

John L. Wathen

Hurricane Creekkeeper,

Friends of Hurricane Creek

Members of

Who has the authority to say someone else
is not being a good steward of the environment?

Anyone who notices.

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