resident concerned about the effects of apparent contamination at the site of the large Creekside development in Parkville requested an inspection by a statewide agency that proved violations of the Missouri Clean Water Law.
A letter detailing the inspection and its results was issued by officials with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Melissa Gindville said she requested the inspection after noticing “discoloration” of Brush Creek, located at Hwy. 45 and Brink-Myer Road.
“It wasn’t like stream-water,” she said of the murky-looking water, that she suspected had been contaminated by construction activity at The Meadows at Creekside, a more than 350-acre retail, residential and commercial development. In addition, Gindville obtained an aerial photograph that shows construction material in the path of the stream and downed trees at the mouth of the creek, which feeds into the Missouri River.
Gindville, who spoke during a telephone interview Tuesday, said a family member who worked in forestry advised her to contact officials with the DNR about the possible violation.
“I just want it to be done right,” she said of the worksite and potential clean-up. Jason Maki of Citizens for a Better Parkville, a citizens’ group opposed to the way the city has managed the development, said the issue especially is important since water from the creek flows into the Missouri River and could affect drinking water.
“It’s great they (DNR) opted to hold people (the developer) accountable for their responsibilities,” he said during a telephone interview Tuesday. He said while the DNR could take further action and impose fines, he hopes such actions aren’t necessary. “I’d rather the developer respond and comply,” he said.
Brian Mertz, of Parkville Development, received a letter dated Dec. 30. 2019, detailing violations and steps that need to be taken to correct the infractions. Mertz told The Landmark that the inspection noted that BMP’s (Best Management Practices) needed to be replaced in areas in which the silt necessitated new installations. He said the agency requires that such practices “that are removed to complete certain activities should be reinstalled as soon as practicable.”
Mertz added that contractors worked to “install, repair and/or replace the required BMP’s” immediately following the inspection in November and “damaged and/or removed BMP’s have been repaired or replaced as was practical as the construction process proceeded…”
In addition, Mertz said “The inspection noted that no sediment was being discharged from the site,” meaning that “no compliance issues impacted the environment or surrounding properties.” A “third party contractor” has performed inspections each week and after each rain event, as required by permit and law. The same contractor “also performs maintenance on the site BMP’s as required…”
DNR Environmental Specialist Leigh Mitchell said the department does not impose on-the-spot fines. But the agency could refer the matter to a separate enforcement section, depending on the severity of violations. Mitchell, who works in the DNR’s Kansas City office, said fines were not imposed as a result of the inspection because violations were not serious enough to warrant such actions.
“Egregious violations/harm to the environment may be treated differently,” Mitchell said in an email. He said the inspection was prompted by concerns by citizens. He added that a follow-up inspection may take place.
“If the permittee continues to not address the violations or new violations are identified, the issue may be escalated, which may lead to further enforcement action (which may include levying of penalties),” his email stated.
A copy of the letter, obtained through a Sunshine open records request, said the “Department’s records will document continued noncompliance of the environmental laws and regulations until the required actions are complete” and added that “failure to respond or address ongoing violations may result in a follow-up investigation.”
The water pollution compliance inspection was conducted in response to an “environmental concern” and mailed to Mertz and lists the following as participants: Ron Pfeiffer, owner of R & S Construction Consulting, Stacy Mostrom and Dustin Williams of Earthscapes of Liberty.
The letter states that this inspection, which took place in November, was the department’s first investigation to be conducted at the development and was a surprise inspection done without prior notification to company officials engaged in the development. The findings indicate that runoff from the site flows into nearby Brush Creek and that Earthscapes is “responsible for environmental matters.”
While the Building Permit Card was posted at the main entrance to the site, a separate sign, also required by the permit, was not provided. Inspectors noted that, at the time of their inspection, there was not visible run-off into Brush Creek, which is located near the southwest corner of the site.
“A storm water drain along the road identified as Susann Street in the (SWPPP) Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan does not have inlet protection,” the letter states. In addition, the letter states that although the SWPPP is “extensive,” it is not accessible to anyone on-site while land disturbance operations are in progress, as required by law.
The letter states that in order to comply with Missouri law the developers must post a notification sign at the main entrance to the site, must correct a failure to “properly install and maintain Best Management Practices for erosion and sediment control throughout the duration of the project.”
They maintain the developer also failed to minimize the exposure of building materials and products, construction waste, trash and other materials “to precipitation and to stormwater as required”…
In addition, the letter recommends that the developer contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has the sole authority to determine “if the project you are planning is within jurisdictional waters and is a regulated activity” for projects that place materials in lakes, rivers, streams, dry streambed or wetlands. The letter also recommended continued monitoring and performance reviews and revisions of the SWPPP to incorporate changes during the project, remove sediment dispersed by the end of the day, “provide good housekeeping practices on-site to keep solid waste from entering waters of the state.” The letter continues that Mertz should “ensure the facility completes and submits a Request for Termination of Operating Permit Form to the Department when the requirements for termination have been met.”