Watchdog: Site's soil erosion is a concern


March 28, 2010|By Liz F. Kay |

The problem: Soil has been eroding from an abandoned construction site in Cherry Hill for years.

The backstory: Gary Peters loves fishing in the Middle Branch. He's been fishing for 50 years all over North America, but his best trips have been on the Middle Branch, he said, catching rockfish and striped bass and releasing them back into the water.

The Catonsville resident worries, however, that soil washing down a hill off an abandoned construction site on Waterview Avenue will harm the ecosystem.

"All that mud's going into the habitat there in the Middle Branch, which is a good fishery," he said.

Peters, who used to work in construction, can't understand how the owners of the property have been able to let the erosion continue for years.

"If it had been me doing that, I'd be in jail," he said. "It goes into the sewer and goes right into the bay."

Gayle Curry, who works in the area, has also been concerned. He contacted Watchdog because mud from the site has covered lanes of Waterview Avenue and created huge puddles.

"It looks like a miniature Grand Canyon, with the striations in the soil where the rain has cut through that stuff," Curry said.

"Your average homeowner, if somebody did something like that, they'd send inspectors out and send them citations in the mail," he said. "Somebody owns it, but why can't they get whoever owns it to fix the problems?"

They're working on it, said Kurt Kocher, spokesman for the Department of Public Works, which is in charge of erosion and sediment control enforcement.

City transportation maintenance workers have responded to the immediate problem - dirt in the roadway, he said.

Baltimore officials have been trying to fix the root of the issue, the erosion from the 5-acre site, since 2007, Kocher said. Because 3100 Waterview Ave. is private property, the owner is responsible for paying to create a proper sediment and erosion control system, he said.

"We're going after the property owner to try to get them to address this or to try to force them to address this," he said. "We cannot continue to have runoff like that."

But city officials have not been able to reach the owners, listed as Waterview Avenue LLC in the state real estate assessment database online. Now they're trying to reach the representative listed in state records, Kocher said.

Tax bills for the property, which have been paid through last year, have been sent to a suite on Druid Park Lake Drive. That's the same address as Consolidated Investment Management Group, developers who planned to build WaterView Overlook, a complex of 42 luxury townhouses and 77 luxury condominiums. According to CIMG's Web site, sales were to begin in 2005.

Once completed, the building was going be one of Baltimore's highest rated "green" developments, with energy-efficient appliances and recycled-wood floors.

Calls to the phone number listed on CIMG's Web site were not answered Friday afternoon.

Who can fix this: City residents should call 311 to report problems.

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