EPA looking to penalize apartment community

State inspections have found the site’s silt fences to be inadequate.
Friday, August 17, 2007 | 2:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:09 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

The Environmental Protection Agency will seek civil penalties against an apartment community and golf course in northeastern Columbia because of violations of its storm water pollution prevention plan.

The EPA has ordered The Links at Columbia to reduce runoff from its construction site into Hinkson Creek.

Two inspections by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, in July 2006 and April 2007, and an inspection by the EPA in May 2007 found the site’s silt fences inadequate.

Silt fences are fabric fences that prevent runoff and the silt it carries from entering watersheds.

Kris Lancaster, a spokesperson for the EPA, said The Links’ silt fences “were poorly entrenched and not adequately anchored. The fabric needs to be buried underground so the fences can stand up under high-velocity runoff.”

Lancaster said the EPA will be evaluating the case in the next few weeks to determine the amount and level of civil penalties.

Hugh Jarratt, an attorney for Lindsey Management, the Arkansas-based company developing The Links, said: “Since Lindsey Management Company Inc. was made aware of possible sedimentation at our construction site, we have engaged the services of a local engineer to inspect the site weekly or immediately after any rain greater than one-fourth of an inch, whichever is more frequent. After the site is inspected, an independent contractor is being hired to immediately repair any damage that Mother Nature may have caused to our erosion control system.”

When completed, The Links at Columbia will include 64 buildings and a nine-hole golf course.

David Nichols, manager of engineering and inspections for Columbia, said the entire 118-acre site was disturbed at the same time. The creek runs through the center of the site.

“I think, if they had minimized the amount of area, it might have been more manageable for them,” Nichols said.

The future of Hinkson Creek was a concern when rezoning was requested from the city of Columbia, said Jeff Barrow, a member of Columbia’s Planning and Zoning Commission. The stream, once a popular recreational destination, has been polluted by runoff during the past decade.

Barrow said caution is necessary when large companies from outside Columbia propose large developments.

“Although it’s good to get outside investments, we really need to be careful, because most of these companies have no connection or commitment to our community,” he said.

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