Md. accuses Konterra developer of pollution violations

By Ovetta Wiggins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 28, 2010

The State of Maryland has fined the developer of a massive mixed-use project in Prince George's County $170,000 for alleged violations of regulations regarding sediment control and water pollution.

The state Department of the Environment filed the complaint last month against Laurel Sand and Gravel Inc. and 1325 G Street Associates for work at the site of a former sand and gravel mine that is being turned into Konterra Town Center East. The town center will be the anchor of Konterra, a 2,200-acre mixed-use development along the Interstate 95 corridor in Laurel.

Laurel Sand and Gravel and 1325 G Street Associates are part of a group of related companies controlled by Konterra developers Kingdon Gould Jr. and his son, Caleb Gould.

The state's complaint alleges that the defendants' activities resulted "in the discharge of vast amounts of sediment pollution to Indian Creek causing actual and substantial harm to the environment."

Jay Apperson, a spokesman for the Department of the Environment, said that the Goulds have requested an administrative hearing but that a date has not been set.

Andre Gingles, an attorney for the developer, said, "It is a matter of pending litigation; therefore, we cannot comment at this time."

The state alleges in the five-count complaint that the defendants did not obtain the proper permit before they began grading the land in May 2007 and that they failed to maintain the site, which resulted in the "discharge of a pollutant from the site into waters of the state." The defendants continued to prepare the ground for development without the necessary permit until February 2008, according to the complaint.

The state says that when its environmental investigators surveyed the site in February 2008, they found that the defendants had not followed the requirements of the original sediment and erosion-control plan. The defendants had performed mass grading of the site before completing the construction of a required sediment basin and other sediment-control measures, the complaint said. The state alleges that the defendants used alternative measures, including sediment bags to filter sediment pollution before it reached the watershed, but that those efforts failed.

According to the complaint, the defendants did "significant mining reclamation and earth disturbance" without receiving a storm-water discharge permit, and they failed to perform biweekly and post-storm inspections and site condition corrections, which are required under the state permit.

Kingdon Gould purchased the former sand and gravel operation more than 30 years ago with plans to create a mini-city in the northern part of the county.

Konterra Town Center East, the cornerstone of the project, is planned as a 488-acre development that will include 4,500 residential units, 5.3 million square feet of commercial, retail and office space, and 500,000 square feet of hospitality space. Caleb Gould said this summer that, despite many fits and starts, he expects to break ground on the project in 2012.

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