Developers sued over storm water discharge violations

The suit seeks up to a $10,000-a-day fine against the developers.



YOUNGSTOWN — Ohio Atty. Gen. Marc Dann has sued developers of the Pine Lake Reserve condominium complex in Beaver Township, alleging they harmed the environment by discharging sediment-laden storm water into Pine Lake in violation of permits issued by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

The suit seeks a court order permanently enjoining the developers of the 108-acre property, located off Market Street on the west side of the lake, from further violations and a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for each day of violation. The suit was filed Friday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. It lists Evergreen Land Development Ltd.; Alfonso Valdes, a partner in Evergreen; and Thomas A. Zebrasky, a former Evergreen partner, as defendants.

Storm water discharge

“Sediment-laden storm water was observed being discharged from Pine Lake Reserve into Pine Lake, harming or adversely affecting aquatic life,” the suit said, without specifying what was harmed and in what manner. The complaint listed nine dates this allegedly occurred between 2003 and 2006 and alleges the developers “failed to implement appropriate erosion and sediment control practices” on those dates.

Shortly after construction began in the summer of 2003, the developers failed to direct storm water runoff in excess of the capacity of a silt fence through a sediment-settling pond before discharging the water into the lake, the suit said.

Dann’s complaint also alleges the developers installed a sanitary sewer extension in 2004 at least three months before the Ohio EPA issued the permit to install it.

Atty. Edwin Romero, who represents Evergreen, did not respond to a request for comment on Dann’s lawsuit.

Other suits

However, when they were sued in March by the Pine Lake Homeowners Association, representing neighbors of the condominium complex, over storm water control and zoning issues, the developers said they had installed elaborate Ohio EPA-approved storm water and sediment control systems, including a detention pond and lakefront storm water filtration tanks. The homeowners’ association suit is still pending in the same court.

Shortly after that suit was filed, Don Garver, urban conservationist with the Mahoning County Soil and Water Conservation District, who had visited the site regularly since construction began, said the developers had cooperated well with his storm water and sediment control recommendations.

In an unrelated matter, Dann sued the Mahoning County commissioners last week, alleging excessive discharges of ammonia, phosphorus, metals and bacteria from the county’s Boardman, Campbell and Mineral Ridge sewage treatment plants. County Prosecutor Paul Gains said the county believes its plants are in substantial compliance with environmental standards and he’d contest Dann’s claims.

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