An Annapolis alderman will introduce an emergency resolution Monday in response to new environmental violations identified at a construction site near Quiet Waters Park.
Alderman Rob Savidge, D-Ward 7, drafted the resolution last week after constituents identified what he called “a whole slew of more/new violations” of erosion control and roads and safety standards at the future site of Parkside Preserve, a residential development currently being built by Reliable Contracting Co.
Following a heavy snowfall and rainstorm, Annapolis officials inspected the work site located off Annapolis Neck Road on Jan. 17 and found violations, including a broken silt fence and sediment flows off-site resulting in two $1,000 fines, City Manager David Jarrell said. The contractor was given one day to fix the fence and a subsequent inspection on Wednesday found the fence was still broken, which triggered a third fine of $1,000.
Subsequent inspections Thursday and Friday found no new violations, Jarrell said.
This is the third time the city has issued fines to the Anne Arundel County construction company.
In August, inspectors four violations and fined the company $2,000 but did not make the contractor stop working. The company was fined $2,500 in December 2020. Last October, the city gave Reliable a five-day window to address additional environmental concerns identified by residents.
Jarrell said that while the city did not issue a stop work order last week, the field correction notice functioned as one because the contractor had to stop construction to focus on fixing the violations.
If Savidge’s resolution passes, it would require a stop work order be issued on “any project that has an off-site discharge of pollution where the city was not 100% in compliance with the standards” in city law or Maryland environmental regulations, according to a draft of the resolution provided to The Capital.
Jackie Guild, deputy city manager for resilience and sustainability, is working on tightening the city’s rules related to violations and repeat offenses. Moving forward, the city will move more swiftly to fine developers who commit violations. For instance, instead of multiple off-site flows triggering a citation, the city will now issue a citation after the first flow, Jarrell said. And most violations will be required to be remedied within a day.
The steps taken by inspectors at the Parkside Preserve site are a preview of that new process and will apply to all developments in the city, Jarrell said.
City officials are expected to meet with the contractor and environmental advocates at the worksite this week to discuss the issue, Guild said.
Since July, Savidge, who chairs the Environmental Matter Committee, has raised the alarm about ongoing violations at the worksite and urged the city to issue fines to Reliable Contracting Co. and impose a stop work order until the violations are fixed.
The Parkside Preserve project has been in the works for a decade. Plans approved in 2015 include a residential development off Annapolis Neck Road with more than 150 new homes on 39 acres near Quiet Waters Park.
According to Savidge’s resolution, stop work orders should be “used in the future more readily as an enforcement tool to establish a clear message that pollution prevention work must be a priority by the contractor.”
In a series of emails Friday, Savidge expressed his frustration that a stop work order had not yet been issued for the site. Savidge, and project manager for stormwater management projects in Anne Arundel County, included photos of a broken silt fence, muddy water puddling along roads around the construction site and construction materials laying along city roads.
All of the conditions in the photos are violations of state law, he said.
“As an engineer, you know how important these standards are. So why is [the Department of Public Works] giving Reliable so many breaks and passes on a multitude of issues?” Savidge wrote to Jarrell and other city officials.
“If my sites looked like this in the county I would get shut down ASAP and my director would have serious words with me, and put something in my personnel file,” Savidge continued. “In short, he would go ballistic.”
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Concerns about the future residential site date back years, according to residents who say they are worried about pollution and the city’s failure to enforce its environmental laws. On a Saturday morning in October, a group of environmental advocates held a protest, briefly delaying work vehicles trying to enter the site.
Savidge is seeking support to suspend the rules and pass the resolution Monday.
After Mayor Gavin Buckley was sworn in for a second term in December, he threw a One Annapolis Ball to celebrate. Among the donors who helped pay for the event was Reliable Contracting Co., which donated $2,500.
The donation shows that the contracting company is trying to buy favor with the Buckley administration, Savidge said.
“If the mayor were to sign on to my legislation, it will show he cannot be bought or influenced by these special interest groups,” he said.
Buckley said he had not had a chance to look at the legislation but defended the donation, saying the company has donated to prior mayors and is one of the city’s largest contractors. The city sustained a heavy snowstorm followed by torrential rain earlier this month, which could have contributed to the runoff and sediment controls failing, Buckley said.
“They put in what looks to me extraordinary measures on this sort of stuff,” he said. “And if something fails, we need to find out why.”