Palumbo sued for building on flood plain

February 03, 1993|By Timothy B. Wheeler | Timothy B. Wheeler,Staff Writer

A Prince George's County delegate has been sued by the state for building on a flood plain and damaging freshwater wetlands on property he owns in Charles County.

In a suit filed last month in Charles County Circuit Court, the Department of Natural Resources seeks to collect $50,000 in penalties from Del. Richard A. Palumbo, D-Prince George's.

The state wants Mr. Palumbo to remove the gravel road and building foundation that he constructed on the site and to restore the flood plain and more than one-third of an acre of wetlands that he destroyed.

Mr. Palumbo, a lawyer from Hyattsville, would not comment on the case yesterday, saying "it wouldn't be prudent for me" in light of the state lawsuit.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is investigating whether to take enforcement action against Mr. Palumbo, said a spokeswoman in the agency's Philadelphia regional office. Wetlands also are protected by federal law and regulations.

Landowners are required to get state permits before disturbing wetlands and flood plains because these low-lying areas help control pollution and flooding. Wetlands also harbor many rare plants and animals.

Mr. Palumbo did not have the permits when he built a 320-foot road and laid the foundation for a building addition on 114 acres he owns near Port Tobacco, officials said.

Mr. Palumbo was ordered in December to stop work after federal and state inspectors spotted the unauthorized road. He applied for a permit afterward, contending that he had not known he needed one.

But the state's lawsuit says that Mr. Palumbo was cited in 1988 for illegally building a road that crossed a small stream on the same property.

The stream, Wills Branch, feeds into a tributary of the Potomac River. He was warned then that any further road work would require state and federal permits, the suit says.

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