DEP levies $45,540 penalty
The owner of a development in Franklin Township has been assessed a civil penality of $45,530 by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for violations of the Clean Streams Law.
He will also be required to pay $2,451.52 in costs expended by the Carbon County Conservation District in relation to the development.
Mieczyslaw Klecha, the owner of the Homestead in the Pines development in Franklin Township, did not dispute that he conducted activities in violation of the Clean Streams Law, and saved $50,000 by continuing the unpermitted activities rather than complying with the law.
The DEP approved an NPDES permit on April 30, 2002, to Homestead in the Pines, LCC, authorizing storm water discharge from construction activities into Saw Mill Run. Klecha entered into a sales agreement to purchase the site from Frederick W. Sherrerd III and Nina E. Sherrerd prior to the permit's approval, and purchased the site on June 4, 2002.
Klecha engaged in construction activities at the site without acquiring a permit from the DEP or transferring the existing permit to himself, and was informed by the Carbon County Conservation District on September 1, 2004, that this permit had not been transferred. He asserted that he "reasonably believed he had the permit due to his purchase of the Homestead in the Pines development."
Klecha submitted an incomplete application to transfer the permit to himself on or about Feb. 26, 2007. The permit expired by its own terms on April 30, 2007. Klecha did not submit an application for renewal.
He submitted an application for a NPDES permit on May 5, 2009, which failed to meet appropriate design standards. He was sent a letter from the DEP identifying the deficiencies of the pending permit application and was asked to respond by Jan. 29, 2010.
Klecha was informed by his engineering consultant, Keystone Consulting Engineers, that it would cost an additional $50,000 to address these deficiencies. He did not respond to the DEP's deficiency letter; the DEP sent a follow-up letter on May 11, 2010 indicating that they had not received a response, and that the permit application would be returned if a response was not received by June 10, 2010. They did not receive a response.
In addition, Klecha's construction activities did not comply with the original permit issued to Homestead in the Pines, LCC. The permit authorized a discharge of storm water from 3.8 acres of earth disturbance activities; Klecha disturbed approximately 10 acres of the site.
The permit did not authorize the construction of any residences on individual lots because the majority of lots 1 through 12 are outside of the identified limits of disturbance; Klecha constructed all of the existing residences in the approximately 12-lot subdivision at the site known as the Homestead at the Pines.
He also did not contact the Conservation District at least seven days prior to beginning construction activities, as expressly required by the permit.
Klecha was also required to have an adequate erosion and sedimentation control plan approved by the Carbon County Conservation District, but did not submit or implement this plans. He also failed to have the homes' roof drains connected to an underground infiltration system, as required by the permit.
On Oct. 11, 2006, the DEP issued a compliance order to Klecha requiring him to cease all disturbance activities, implement permanent stabilization best management practices for all disturbed areas; to submit a revised erosion and sediment control plan that conformed with DEP regulations and site conditions; and to acquire permit authorization for earth disturbance activities for the site. Klecha did not appeal the compliance order, nor did he file any written non-compliance reports to the DEP or Conservation District as required by the permit nor did he submit a revised erosion and sediment control plan to the Conservation District by Oct. 25, 2006 as required by the DEP's order.
Representatives of the DEP and/or the Conservation District inspected the site and observed the failure to implement erosion and sedimentation controls multiple times between Sept. 19, 2006, and June 23, 2009.
Klecha also failed to produce an erosion and sedimentation plan on site in response to a request from a representative of the Conservation District multiple times between Oct. 11, 2006, and Aug. 20, 2007.
Klecha also failed to properly construct a detention basin on the site as required. The installed basin lacked a sediment filtering device, and was installed after the roadway.
The permit required that the basin be installed prior to roadway construction to allow additional time for stabilization. He constructed two roads without acquiring a permit or implementing an erosion and sediment control plan, and failed to properly install roadside swales.
He also failed to properly install a drop inlet to filter and direct water from the roadway to the detention basin, and created unapproved soil stock piles without installing temporary erosion or sediment control measures.
Inspections on Jan. 8, 2007, and Aug. 20, 2007, also revealed the discharge of sediment from the site to Saw Mill Run. It was noted that Klecha disturbed the soil immediately adjacent to the water without adequate erosion and sediment controls.
Franklin Township had delayed releasing Klecha's bond because he had not installed the roads and associated appurtenances in accordance with the NPDES, and issued a stop work order for the development in 2007.
The DEP sent a letter to Klecha's attorney on July 16, 2010 indicating that they would pursue formal enforcement if prior issues could not be resolved through written agreement. They received no response.
The DEP also issued a letter on Dec. 1, 2011, indicating that they would return Klecha's permit application if they did not receive a response to their 2009 deficiency letter within 30 days.
They did not receive a response, and notified Klecha on Jan. 9, 2012, notifying him that the application had been withdrawn.