Developer Fined for Pollution

By: Stephen McLamb
By: Stephen McLamb

Lenoir City, Loudon County (WVLT) - Thousands and thousands of East Tennesseans use Tellico Lake for boating, fishing and fun all season long.

And one Maryville developer shares in a record setting $3 million fine for allegedly polluting it and others across the state.

Maryville-based Rarity Communities and Sharp Construction face fines of just over 340 thousand dollars for its role in allegedly polluting Tellico Lake at its Rarity Pointe development project near Lenoir City in Loudon County.

Officials say the violations stem from permit violations to pollution, which largely consists of silt.

"These violations deal with controlling construction storm water on the site during construction activities," says Tisha Calabrese-Benton, TDEC Deputy Communications Director.

The enforcement order says the violations stem over a more than four year period which can have an effect on the environment.

"It can smother fish eggs, clog fish gills, affect the aquatic food chain," says Calabrese-Benton.

"We're going to be contesting both the fines as well as these past instances used in 2007 to generate a fine now," says Louis Crossley, Jr., attorney for Rarity Communities.

Attorneys for Rarity Communities and Sharp Construction say the fines levied were not consistent with fines given to others accused of similar violations and the other groups did not have permits.

"Rarity Communities had permits and was, as far as they could tell, abiding by them," Crossley says.

State officials say they are for business development but it must be done in accordance to state rules and regulations...a claim attorneys for the Rarity Pointe project say they are doing.

"Rarity Communities takes great care in every effort it can to comply with the environmental laws and is going to continue to do so," adds Crossley.

Calabrese-Benton says from here there will be the possibility of negotiating a settlement in the case.

If a settlement cannot be reached, she says the case will be heard before the state water quality control board.


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