Agency notifies legislator of improper dredging

Balto. County delegate calls letter by Corps of Engineers a `mistake'

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April 07, 2005|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

A state lawmaker dredged Middle River near his property without proper authorization and failed to dump the spoil at a predesignated site, the Army Corps of Engineers has concluded.

Del. Richard K. Impallaria could face possible fines or court action because, according to a letter sent March 29 by the federal agency to Impallaria, he undertook the work "without proper DA [Department of the Army] authorization."

He can avoid those penalties if the case is resolved with mitigation or if the Corps of Engineers reissues a permit to correct the violations, a spokesman said.

Impallaria, also involved in a dispute with Baltimore County environmental officials over separate issues pertaining to his property, said that the letter he received "was a big mistake."

"Those people in that letter called me up and apologized and said that another letter will be sent to me saying that everything has been corrected," he said.

But Robert Nelson, the spokesman, said he could "not verify anyone on our staff had a conversation [with Impallaria] that contained an apology. The letter stands, and it outlines how we will deal with this case step by step."

Yesterday, Impallaria said he spoke with a supervisor in the Office of Enforcement Management. "Obviously, I was told a corrective letter would be sent to me," he said.

The March 29 letter told the legislator, who owns a 2-acre site on the headwaters of Middle River, that he did not comply with permits he obtained to do the work.

The letter said:

"Material was dredged from a sandbar located near shore outside the authorized dredge footprint therefore exceeding dredge limits."

"Spoil material was not taken to Hart-Miller Island and an alternate spoil site was not requested as per Special Condition Number 5."

The letter was sent four days after a Corps of Engineers inspector met with Impallaria to try to work out a solution.

Impallaria was issued a federal permit in 1999 to dredge an area of Middle River for a pier and boat slip, the Corps of Engineers spokesman has said.

Meanwhile, the March 31 deadline has passed for Impallaria to start replanting an area where, county officials say, trees were removed without a permit. County officials also want Impallaria to clean up concrete and other debris from a stream leading into the river.

Under the state Chesapeake Bay Critical Area law, any grading, removal of trees and vegetation or other work within 100 feet of tidal waters must face a government review.

In the past, Impallaria has said that the county has lost paperwork pertaining to his case. He also said that he was a victim of officials giving him incorrect or inconsistent information about the work he did in the 1000 block of Old Eastern Ave. He also has said that many of the downed trees on his tract were the result of Tropical Storm Isabel.

County officials say they have tried to reach a solution with Impallaria but to no avail.

"The county has made repeated attempts to work with Delegate Impallaria to resolve this issue," Donald I. Mohler III, a spokesman for County Executive James T. Smith Jr., said yesterday. "To date none of those attempts have been successful."

Impallaria, 42, a Republican, represents Baltimore County's east side and a section of Harford County. He was elected in 2002.

His property is near three privately owned marinas on a stretch of the river once envisioned as a waterfront destination, an idea that has since been dropped.

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