DEP FINES PULTE LIFESTYLE COMMUNITIES
$555,000 FOR FAILURE
TO COMPLY WITH FRESHWATER WETLANDS DEVELOPMENT PERMIT
(05/102) TRENTON -- Commissioner Bradley M.
Campbell today announced that the Department of Environmental
Protection (DEP) fined Pulte Lifestyle Communities, Inc. $555,000
for violations of the state's Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act
at its Franklin Township, Somerset County construction site.
"Developers and builders are hereby on notice: DEP is actively
monitoring compliance with the conditions of land use permits
statewide," said Commissioner Campbell. "Builders who
disregard permit limits and safeguards, as Pulte did in this case,
will face significant fines and penalties."
Pulte failed to comply with a DEP permit which authorized the
developer to disturb 1.3 acres of freshwater wetlands and transition
areas in order to construct 499 homes, various roadways and utilities
including underground electric wires, sewers and water pipes.
The permit required Pulte to minimize impacts to sensitive environmental
areas and comply with the permit's conditions and limitations.
Rather than comply with the limitations of its permit, Pulte
disturbed approximately 3.3 acres of freshwater wetlands and transition
areas during construction of the subdivision. Disturbing freshwater
wetlands jeopardizes water quality, flood control and the maintenance
of groundwater during droughts.
Pulte also failed to file deed restrictions in Somerset County
prior to initiating construction activities, which prevents interested
parties from reviewing the permit and subsequent owners from determining
which parts of the site are restricted from future development.
Also, Pulte exceeded the scope of its permit by clearing land
within stream buffer zones, which can negatively impact water
quality and cause excessive sedimentation.
In addition to paying the $555,000 penalty, Pulte Homes must
restore the disturbed wetlands and comply with all conditions
of its permit. Pulte on May 5 submitted a restoration plan, which
the Department approved on May 11, 2005.
Pulte may request an adminsitrative hearing to contest the violations
and penalty issued by DEP.