Developers get second extension on wetland remediation

Company owns up to mistake, says it has no intention of ‘ignoring any of its responsibilities’

City council has granted a group of developers a second deadline extension to submit a plan on how they intend to remediate wetlands near Jubilee.

Parkway Properties Ltd. has been accused of altering the wetlands during construction work on a subdivision near the city’s southern border.

Council, at its Dec. 14 meeting, extended the deadline to March 15 for submission of a report which must include a timeline for remedial action to be completed by the date specified by a qualified environmental professional. This is the second extension as council already extended the original Oct. 26 deadline to Nov. 30.

The developers must submit a report from a qualified environmental professional describing the former and present environmental characteristics of the site, the changes and impacts, and a plan to address soil deposition and remediation of the wetland.

The site was altered several years ago by the developers of Maryland Estates as soil was dumped on the property to make way for development.

Dan Samson, president of Parkway Properties, said the parties involved in the development had no ill intentions and didn’t realize they were doing anything wrong.

He told city council in September that there was no fish habitat, no inlet or outlet involved and the developers thought it was simply a depression with poor drainage.

“There was a similar-sized wetland in the Maryland subdivision that the city approved for elimination when the first phase of that subdivision was approved,” Samson said. “We did not think the area that we were continuing to fill was any different.”

The movement of soil began in early 2007 and lasted until 2012, Samson said, adding he never realized anything was amiss until two years later when he got a call from the city on March 14, 2014 requesting immediate cessation of the movement of further materials.

Samson said the developers agreed there would be no further movement but in the city’s mind the damage had already been done.

In May of 2014, the city ordered the developers to submit the report outlining how it would either remediate the wetlands or pay some form of compensation to atone for the damage.

But a consultant hired to come up with a remediation plan did not deliver in time and was subsequently fired by Parkway.

By May of 2015 there was still no report and Samson told the city in a hand-delivered letter that “Parkway Properties acknowledges that we have made changes to this area and has no intention of ignoring any of its responsibilities and that “the work required in exploring all the alternatives is complicated and a time consuming process requiring at least six months to complete.”

But city staff appeared to be losing patience and at a June 15, 2015 in-camera meeting told city council that “formal action is…considered necessary to bring this issue to resolution.”

On July 21, 2015 solicitors for the city delivered a Remedial Action Requirement to Parkway Properties ordering remediation be performed by Oct. 26 or the city would take legal action.

Samson said he and his follow developers were “extremely shocked and disappointed” as they had received no communication from the city since Samson’s hand-delivered letter to the city in May.

Council, after hearing Samson make his case at the Sept. 14 council meeting, granted the November extension.

Now, nearly one month later, that deadline is being extended further and the developers will have until March to bring forward a report that will have to be approved by council before any action is taken.

Parkway is considering a few different options for remediation.

They include:

n Remediating the wetland which, according to a biologist’s report has had vegetation removed, soil deposited, and ditches excavated.

n Remediating a former wetland, east of the bridge over Willow Creek, that was adversely impacted by construction of Jubilee Parkway.

n Enhancing lands located at the southwest corner of Parkway’s property, which would enhance the water flow and habitat of Woods Creek.

n Dedicating additional lands adjacent to Willow Creek in order to enhance the park network and protect the creek.