I am writing to you regarding storm water and sediment issues in York County. I have been contacted continuously for six months about two developments under construction on Bonum Road, Cypress Pointe (D.R. Horton) and Lake Crest (Mattamy Homes).
York County Environmental Compliance has the monumental task of monitoring and inspecting construction sites for compliance to all stormwater and sediment containment ordinances. Considering the scope of construction in York County, I am astounded at what they accomplish. The efforts of Environmental Compliance are appreciated by everyone I know who is concerned about water quality in streams, creek beds, conduits, Lake Wylie and Catawba River. I look forward to the day when emails and calls to EC regarding stormwater and sediment erosion violations are rare.
Unfortunately, that day has yet to arrive.
It is unacceptable a contractor in violation of sediment erosion has a 15-day grace period before a fine can be considered. The fine amounts are a pittance to these contractors and developers. This is the way development is done in York County, and they anticipate the odds are in their favor that non-compliance will be less expensive than compliance. Fines should be significant enough to signal York County means business when it comes to environmental controls, specifically in cases of sediment erosion and stormwater protections. Environmental Compliance staff should have the authority to fine more frequently and at higher amounts to ensure immediate and effective correction and future compliance. Additionally, there should be a new threshold of enforcement penalty that is less onerous than a stop work order, yet grant more immediacy than waiting 15 days to apply a penalty. The county’s current procedures encourage a “better-to-ask-forgiveness-than-permission” attitude from the developers and contractors.
I urge you to request York County Council takes decisive action to put the construction community on notice that this county is serious about erosion control and other environmental safeguards.
The concerns residents of Bonum Road have raised throughout the planning process for developments have become a devastating environmental reality. Sediment erosion, re-directed water flow and discharges of sediment into Lake Wylie are repeated offenses. This leads me to ask these questions:
1. Did the civil and environmental engineers account for the changes in topography created by the major grading of large amounts of soil when calculating stormwater sequestration requirements along Bonum Road?
2. Assuming the original designs were correct, did the contractors follow those plans and implement BMP’s appropriate to the disturbed, un-stabilized topography and to protect the environmentally sensitive areas these sites impact?
3. If 1&2 are compliant, then why do the residents continually experience episodes of sediment erosion, water diversion and other issues when it rains more than 1 inch?
4. What can be done to stop the erosion and remediate the sediment damage? What can be done to make necessary repairs to prevent future diverted storm water from damaging the property of Bonum Road residents?
5. Why does the county allow large tracts of land, 20 to 30 acres at a time, to be clear cut, and then allow the land to remain undeveloped for months at a time without legitimate active construction? The dirt from these bare sites blows off, polluting the air we breathe and leaving residue on surrounding property. Large mounds of bare dirt often cause environmental control failures during storms. This has happened repeatedly on Bonum Road.
What does York County plan to do to prevent future developments from repeating the environmental degradation? Bonum Road is the norm in York County and not the exception. Erosion issues have long been a problem. I have a data bank of thousands of photos. Residents are experiencing damage to their property from sediment erosion and water flow re-direction. Still, the county continues to issue permits to the same contractors and developers who go on to fill more coves, creek beds, and waterways with sediment and brush. Property owners are faced with flooded yards, washed out driveways, and water damage to their homes and outbuildings.
I do not understand why elected York County officials continue to turn a blind eye to the destruction of our most vital resource, the Catawba River Basin and Lake Wylie.
Connie D. Miller, Lake Wylie Covekeeper