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Organizing your community to bring public attention to builder’s bad deeds and seeking assistance from local, state and federal elected officials has proven to be more effective and much quicker for thousands of families. You do have choices and alternatives.  Janet Ahmad

New Jersey Developer Fined
Saturday, 29 July 2006

$763G fine imposed on Chester builder
A Chester developer who received 18 prior warnings was fined $763,500 for various violations, including failing to stop stormwater runoff from infiltrating nearby pristine streams in the development he was building in Budd Lake.

$763G fine imposed on Chester builder
MOUNT OLIVE TWP. — A Chester developer who received 18 prior warnings was fined $763,500 for various violations, including failing to stop stormwater runoff from infiltrating nearby pristine streams in the development he was building in Budd Lake.


The developer, Anthony Mortezai, said last Thursday that he will appeal the fines and hopes to resume building the 16 homes situated on 100 acres off Shop Lane.

The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) levied the fines on Thursday against Anthony and Golnaz Mortezai for their project known as Deerfield Estates/Resamir Estates.

Anthony Mortezai said on Thursday that he has appealed the fine and was hopeful he could continue building. According to Mortezai’s web site, the engineer also built the Mountain View Estates in Rockaway.

Construction has included work on some of the roadways in the development but otherwise, work has been at a standstill since the DEP issued the first notices of violation in October 2004.

It was one of the largest land use fines ever levied by the state, according to Scott Brubaker, chief of the DEP Bureau of Coastal and Land Use Compliance and Enforcement.

There can be no further work on the project until the fines are paid and the violations are corrected.

“It stems from the environmental impacts and the lack of compliance with notices of violation,” Brubaker said.

Wetlands Violations

The fines were for violating freshwater-wetlands and stream-encroachment permits on the construction sites of the development.

Brubaker said the developers failed to implement proper soil erosion control measures that would have kept the sediment on site. Those measures should have included setting up slit control fences and building detention basins to capture runoff.

“Instead, a significant amount of sediment escaped into creeks and eventually into the North Branch of the Raritan River,” Brubaker said.

The runoff resulted in turbid water that could potentially impact on the trout and other life in the stream, he said.

Brubaker said there may also be undetermined effects on other downstream properties.

Construction began in the fall of 2004 and the first violation notices were issued in October 2004 but the developer failed to comply, Brubaker said.

“We kept seeing the same violations over and over again,” he said. “They’ve had problems since they got going.”

DEP inspectors found that the developers overcleared vegetation in exceptional-resource-value freshwater wetland transition areas, failed to implement approved soil- and sediment-control measures, failed to file required deed restrictions, failed to purchase mitigation credits to offset development of regulated areas, and submitted inaccurate plans when they applied to the DEP for permits required to develop the site, according to a statement.

The DEP has suspended the developers’ freshwater-wetlands permit for permit-application inaccuracies and for ongoing violations that were degrading a high-quality waterway and causing sedimentation of local streams and water bodies, the statement said.

The DEP’s enforcement order also requires immediate steps to prevent degradation of water quality and restore cleared areas to their original condition.

The developers appealed the permit suspension and both parties told an administrative law judge in June that they would try to reach a settlement, Brubaker said.

Township Council President Rob Greenbaum said he has met several times with property owners who have said they were impacted by the construction. Greenbaum also was a member of the Planning Board when the project was approved in July 2004. He said no variances were required so the board couldn’t reject the project.

“No one was particularly happy with the plans because it was a pristine property with significant slopes and significant wetlands,” Greenbaum said. “From the beginning there were significant problems with stormwater runoff.”

Greenbaum also said he has suggested that the township’s business administrator, Rick Prill, ask the developers if they would consider selling the property to the township to be kept as open space.

“Freshwater wetlands play a vital role in protecting drinking-water supplies, providing habitat for significant populations of fish and wildlife, and preventing erosion and flooding,” DEP Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson said in a statement.


 
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