Turf Valley trying to reduce state fine

Work on two ponds done without permit

January 25, 2001|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

The owners of Turf Valley Resort and Conference Center in Ellicott City are negotiating to avoid paying a $100,000 state fine for rebuilding two golf course ponds last year without a permit and continuing the project despite a county-issued stop-work order.

Joseph Laverghetta, an attorney for Turf Valley, said the contractor hired by the Mangione family, owner of the 346-acre resort, didn't think a permit was required to rebuild the 40-year-old ponds and received conflicting advice from state and county agencies about whether to obey the stop-work order. He said the work was done as part of a home-building development at Turf Valley.

But county Department of Public Works Director James M. Irvin said the need for a permit was clear and no one should have been confused. "All you've got to do is call" his department, he said, to resolve questions.

The work was done early last year when two sediment-control ponds were rebuilt on the club's golf courses - a job that was undertaken next to a stream on the property. According to the administrative complaint, order and penalty issued by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), the work allowed sediment to drain into the stream, which drains into Little Patuxent River and, eventually, the Chesapeake Bay.

Howard County inspectors looked at the site in February and issued a stop-work order Feb. 29. The case went to MDE, but later visits by inspectors in March showed that work continued until the job was completed.

The $100,000 fine was levied Nov. 30. Instead of paying or formally appealing, however, the Mangione family asked to negotiate with the state, said David Lyons, chief of MDE's enforcement division.

Lyons said one meeting involving attorneys from both sides took place last month, but the issue has not been settled.

The state will negotiate such matters, Lyons said, to more quickly reach a settlement and stop the risk of further pollution and to avoid the time and expense of a formal hearing.

Silt, he said, can cover a streambed, reducing oxygen in the water and killing aquatic life.

According to documents in the case, inspectors found an "extensive amount of grading activity, including the renovation of two ponds, the installation of pipe for an irrigation system, and the construction of a dirt haul road."

Also, the documents said, sediment entered the stream March 2.

Inspections as late as March 13 found work continuing, despite the stop-work order.

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