Developer of senior housing in Muscatine agrees to $8,000 fine for allowing runoff to pollute Mad Creek

A former LeClaire developer now living in West Des Moines has agreed to pay an $8,000 fine for storm water runoff violations at a senior housing site in Muscatine that polluted the nearby Mad Creek.

James Bergman, of JNB Oak Park LP, signed the administrative consent order with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) last month. Bergman was one of the developers of Thomas Place Senior Housing in Bettendorf.

He had received a 15-year, 70 percent tax rebate from the City of Muscatine to build Oak Park Senior Living housing development at 913 Clubhouse Dr., Muscatine.

According to the consent order, JNB Oak Park hired KMA Trucking and Excavating to control storm water runoff at the construction site, and JNB was issued a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit April 8, 2019.

But when the site was inspected April 18, 2019, construction had begun without the storm water pollution prevention plan signed by the permittee or contractor, without the prevention plan
being posted on site as required and without a concrete washout area as required by the plan.

A notice of violation was sent to JNB April 23, and on Sept. 16 the department received a complaint about dirt being piled on top of and over the silt fence that was installed to prevent soil runoff at the site.

An IDNR inspection Sept. 18, 2019 found dirt was piled on top of and over the silt fence, and that the silt fence was missing in multiple areas around the site.

Two days later, the IDNR inspector "observed that sediment had migrated off site to Isett Avenue and storm sewer work had taken place in the right-of-way without sediment or erosion controls."

Another notice of violation was sent the developer Sept. 20 summarizing the violation and recommending corrective action, and on Sept. 23 a representative of JNB called the IDNR office to report new erosion controls were installed around the site, according to the IDNR consent order.

However, on a return visit Sept. 25 the inspector observed "sediment laden" storm water discharging from Isett Avenue into a ditch where it flowed directly into a tributary of Mud Creek.

"JNB is engaged in the business of construction," the IDNR administrative consent order stated. "This is a highly regulated activity and therefore JNB has an obligation to be aware of the applicable regulations and comply with those regulations."

"Moreover, on multiple occasions the department communicated to JNB the need to implement proper storm water controls," according to the agreement. "Nevertheless, adequate controls were not installed and a discharge occurred."

Asked why the case took two years from when the violations occurred and the administrative consent order and fine was ordered, IDNR Attorney Carrie Schoenebaum refused to provide an explanation, stating only that the IDNR takes such matters "very seriously."

CLICK HERE to download the administrative consent order.

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