The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality in June levied more than $100,000 in fines against Icon Construction, claiming the West Linn-based developer committed multiple stormwater-related permit violations in connection with four Canby housing projects.
Icon has appealed the fines and, through its attorneys, has aggressively denied any wrongdoing in its construction activities at the four large housing developments.
In a June 3 letter to Icon and its owner and founder, Mark Handris, DEQ alleged the firm committed multiple construction stormwater permit violations at its Beckwood, Hamilton Acres, Redwood Landing II and Redwood Landing III residential developments in Canby.
The violations included starting construction without obtaining permit coverage, making false statements on erosion and sediment control plans, failing to implement those plans, and placing waste where it was likely to enter state waterways.
The firm was assessed its largest fine, nearly $47,000, for alleged violations at its Hamilton Acres project, a new 41-lot housing development under construction on North Pine Street in northeast Canby.
There, DEQ alleged the company failed to follow its own erosion and sediment control plans and perform required monitoring to ensure the pollution controls were working as intended.
The agency also claimed the company discharged concrete waste and wash water directly onto the ground and located portable toilets near stormwater catch basins that discharge to Willow Creek.
The other three projects were Beckwood Place, a 42-lot development on Northeast 17 Avenue, and two phases of the massive Redwood Landing development on North Redwood: Redwood Landing II, a 44-lot development, and Redwood Landing III.
Through its attorneys at Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, Icon denied that its managers or workers violated any DEQ policies or polluted state waters and responded in detail to DEQ’s allegations.
Attorney Elizabeth Howard hit back at the state, claiming that its alleged violations went beyond the scope of its legal authority and were based on “inaccurate allegations and assumptions that are not supported by the evidence or law.”
She also accused DEQ of acting in bad faith, claiming the agency had attempted to “entrap” and “intimidate” the company. She said the projects that DEQ claimed polluted state waters do not actually drain into any waters of the state.
“DEQ does not have jurisdiction to levy a penalty against Icon for activities on a site from which stormwater does not drain or otherwise connect to waters of the state,” Howard wrote.
Laura Gleim, a public affairs specialist for DEQ, confirmed that Icon had appealed the penalties and had requested an informal meeting to determine if the two parties could reach a settlement.
“This sometimes takes several meetings,” Gleim told the Current in an email. “If we cannot reach a settlement, DEQ may refer the case for a hearing before an administrative law judge at Oregon’s Office of Administrative Hearings.”
The $114,089 fine against Icon was the largest of eight DEQ issued in June for various alleged environmental violations, including a winery discharging wastewater to a creek tributary, a hazardous waste landfill improperly disposing of corrosive waste, and a gas station failing to submit required annual air quality reports.
Organizations or individuals must either pay the fines or file an appeal within 20 days of receiving notice of the penalty. They may be able to offset a portion of a penalty by funding a supplemental environmental project that improves Oregon’s environment.
Penalties may also include orders requiring specific tasks to prevent ongoing violations or additional environmental harm.
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