Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Balsam Mountain Preserve Fined $300K

Sylva radio station WRGC reports this morning:

Jackson County is fining Balsam Mountain Preserve $300,000 for erosion and sediment control violations in relation to the dam breach earlier this month. The fine was announced last night. The county accuses Balsam Mountain Preserve of five consistent violations over a period from February to June. Those are failure to follow an approved plan, failure to provide adequate groundcover, insufficient measures to retain sediment on site, inadequate buffer zone, and unprotected exposed slopes. The fine was reached, according to the letter given to the developers, by adding up $500 per violation per day. According to Planning Department officials, this amount does not include whatever Balsam Mountain Preserve has to spend to return to compliance and to clean up what resulted from the break. The development has five days to appeal.

See copy of letter from county officials to Balsam Mountain Preserve

No word yet on whether or not this is the largest fine ever assessed against a Chaffin/Light Associates project. Stuff happens, but what's most disgusting about BMP's behavior is how they sent reps to speak at public hearings in Jackson County, touting their own environmental righteousness, at the very same time that they were violating erosion regulations.

That's a little bit like Elvis visiting the Nixon White House to speak out against drug abuse.

The Balsam Mountain Preserve website still contains puffery about their matchless stewardship of the streams flowing from their golf course:

When we say that Balsam Mountain Preserve's 38 miles streams are the purest you'll find anywhere, we're not exaggerating. That's a scientific fact, documented by our own on-staff naturalists and some of the many professional researchers who use Balsam Mountain as a living laboratory.

As a result of the careful work of the Balsam Mountain Trust, which manages the land and streams in our preserve, Balsam Mountain Preserve earned high marks in an independent study measuring water quality. Thanks to our pristine waters, our streams are the last homes of the southern brook trout. Once common throughout the region, this fish has grown rare as more streams become inundated with silt and chemicals. But the southern brook trout is thriving here - and that's good news for those who enjoy both fishing and the beauty of untouched nature.

Coming soon, a look at other Jackson County developers (such as Legasus) and comparing their claims against their record of crimes against nature.

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