During a Galion City Council meeting on June 10, citizen Howard Morrow alleged there were violations of Evrionmental Protection Agency laws occurring in the construction area of the Hesby Drive project.
Hesby Drive is the city’s locally funded roadway that, when complete, will connect Bucyrus Road to the Galion City Schools campus, and also extend Heise Park Lane west to connect with the road. It will be a permanent road.
Morrow returned to the June 24 council meeting. He once again maintained that he did not file any complaint with the Ohio EPA regarding the alleged violations. While he did speak to a representative from the agency, he said it was about “other issues.”
“I would think you’d be more interested in seeing how you can solve your problem, not wondering who reported things,” Morrow stated.
He then recounted the violations he believes have occurred or are occurring: The road is being built in a wetland retention area and state guidelines are not being followed, and the embankments on each side of the roadway are too steep.
According to him, when he tried to get answers from the city, no one would listen. The school superintendent did not have answers either. Then when he talked to the EPA, they were unaware dirt was being put into the retention area.
After a seven-minute monologue, Council President Carl Watt asked Morrow to make his point. Morrow then stated he would still like an emergency meeting to be called so that he could provide council with his documentation of the violations.
While a special meeting was not called that evening, the city has responded to the EPA violation concerns. All associated documents were provided to the Inquirer earlier this week.
EPA violations and responses
A notice of violation letter was sent to the City of Galion by Lynette Hablitzel of the Division of Surface Water at the Ohio EPA, dated June 10, 2014.
The letter states in part: “Ohio EPA had received a complaint about fill in a wetlands and a lack of sediment and erosion controls.” Hablitzel and Heather Allamon, an environmental specialist with the Division of Surface Water, inspected the project site on May 29 to evaluate compliance with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. They also spoke to Safety-Service Director John Swain, Project Engineer Lyn Makeever and Dale Close, Jr. of Underground Utilities (the contractor for the Hesby Drive project).
The letter cited several violations, which Makeever responded to in a letter dated June 18. The violations are listed below, with the responses.
- At the time of inspection, areas of earth disturbance were observed beyond the proposed site plan. Hablitzel recommended submitting a separate Notice of Intent to correct the issue.
Makeever: Construction documents are comprised of three sets of plans. The one referenced from 2000 does not indicate the total project limits; the correct total acreage disturbed by the project is 8.21 acres. A second NOI has been submitted.
- The erosion control plans reviewed were last revised in 2000 and were “very deficient.”
Makeever: New erosion control plans will be developed to update the existing plans.
- Inspection logs were not being kept.
Makeever: The contractor’s representative was informed at the pre-construction meeting that he is required to maintain inspection logs in accordance with permit requirements. I informed him that a log book should be kept on site for inspection upon request.
- No sediment controls were in use.
Makeever: “Unfortunately the utility crew decided to pump the sediment basin water into Harding Way West to drain the sediment basin enabling them to complete the installation of the new waterline. I agree this should not have happened. The storm sewer now has been installed…” Also, there was an area along the Galion City School’s detention basin that did need a silt fence and it was installed. “Now that the entire storm sewer system has been installed and dandy bags placed on the inlet structures, future sedimentation issues should not present a problem.”
- A better construction entrance is needed off State Route 19. The permit requires a stable construction entrance.
Makeever: “The existing stoned parking area owned by the Hesby Estate was permitted to be used as a construction entrance and staging area. The contractor is required to maintain this area in accordance the intent of the permit.”
- Stabilization of bare soils was not being performed.
Makeever: Bare soil areas that are no longer being disturbed are being reseeded at this time.
- Project is not designed to address the post construction storm water management requirements of the permit.
Makeever: We will develop a post construction storm water management plan utilizing the most favorable BMP’s for this site.
A separate letter from Heather Allamon, dated June 11, said in part: “We observed a wetland being filled in as part of the construction of a road…no wetland delineation was performed and no permit was obtained to impact the wetland.”
According to her, sections 401 and 404 of the federal Clean Water Act require anyone wishing to discharge dredged or fill material into the waters of the United States to obtain a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a water quality certification from the Ohio EPA.
“To correct this violation, you have the option of applying for an After-the-Fact Permit, or restoring the wetland to the approximate original conditions,” Allamon recommended.
Makeever also issued a response to this letter: “I was aware that the small area being filled at Station 10+00 of Hesby Drive was possible [sic] a wetland. However, I also believed that such a small area was exempt from the requirement of needing a Section 401 and Section 404 permit. I did submit for and received a NOI permit from your agency prior to the commencement of the construction project as required.”
Makeever said it is the city’s intent to apply for an “After-the-Fact Permit” for the area disturbed by the construction project.
Click here to see the full text of these records.
During the June 24 council meeting, Mayor Tom O’Leary noted the biggest issue is the impact on the wetland. City officials spoke to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last Friday.
“It was determined that the issue is of such little consequence it will not need any permitting, or at worst, it will require an After-the-Fact Permit,” he summarized.
O’Leary also stated that now with the ODOT widening project lagging behind, it is easy to say these issues could have been addressed sooner. He pointed out that the Portland Way bridge will be closed beginning in the middle of July. The bridge replacement is expected to take 90 days.
“One can only imagine if this road way isn’t done what will happen,” he continued. “There is a sense of urgency to get Hesby complete enough to handle traffic.” Otherwise, ODOT’s detour route will be through Heise Park, then dividing north and southbound traffic on Gill Avenue and Union Street.
The Hesby project is moving forward in hopes to stay ahead of the widening project.