Johnson County home developer to pay $51,690 for allegedly violating Clean Water Act

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A Johnson County development company tied to home builder Tom French will pay a $51,690 penalty for allegedly failing to adequately control storm water runoff at two housing developments in Olathe, according to a news release from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Heartland Development LP has agreed to pay the penalty to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act at the Covington Creek and Covington Court housing developments near 115th Street and Lone Elm Road.

In the consent agreement, Heartland Development neither admitted nor denied the allegations and legal conclusions in the settlement with the EPA.

French, who signed the agreement as president of Heartland Development, was not available for comment.

“Runoff from construction sites contains pollutants that harm our nation’s waters and impair downstream property owners’ use and enjoyment of those waters,” David Cozad, director of EPA Region 7 enforcement and compliance assurance division, said in the release.

“It’s also unfair to other construction companies that follow the rules,” he said. “These enforcement actions demonstrate the Agency’s commitment to protecting streams and other waterways and ensuring a level playing field for businesses.”

According to the settlement documents, the two housing developments are on about 50 acres of land. Heartland Development, or persons acting on its behalf, began clearing and grading a significant portion of the construction site in 2015.

Stormwater and snow melt drain from the site into the Little Cedar Creek, which flows into Cedar Creek.

In early March 2021, an EPA inspector found that significant amounts of sediment had washed from the site into Little Cedar Creek. The inspector told a representative of Heartland Development that its sediment and erosion controls were ineffective or lacking.

A little over a week later, an EPA inspector returned after close to an inch rain had fallen. The inspector discovered that Heartland Development had not corrected previous violations and no additional actions had been taken to address erosion and sediment due to the rain, according to the settlement documents.

In February, an EPA inspector drove by the site and saw that areas remained unstabilized or were missing such items as silt fencing and concrete washouts.