Troubled West Side Development Frequently Warned of Erosion Issues

Published 08/04 2014 06:07PM

Updated 08/04 2014 06:19PM

A development near Evansville's west side remains substantially behind schedule. As Eyewitness News uncovered, county officials have investigated and determined the project has been mired by consistent erosion control issues.

As Eyewitness News reported last Monday, the controversy surrounding soil erosion and run-off at the development has caught the attention of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. IDEM issued a notice requesting public comment on the Eagle Enclave project off of Felstead Road and the Lloyd Expressway.

When it rains, neighbors say large volumes of soil and mud travel downstream, ultimately draining into a woman's lake nearby.

IDEM and the Army Corps of Engineers became involved in the situation when inspectors noticed that fill material had been discharged into two streams and a quarter acre of wetlands without the proper permits. The developer, Dan Buck of Eagle Enclave LLC., has now applied for after-the-fact permits for water quality certification.

According to the developer, the project calls for commercial space and 56 homes. However, the project remains stuck in neutral. The first home at the site remains unfinished. The plots for ten other homes have already been purchased but construction has not begun, Buck said.

According to records obtained by Eyewitness News through the Freedom of Information Act, Buck has received 13 complaint evaluations since May 2013. The evaluations were conducted by the Vanderburgh County Engineering Department.

The letters have ten focus points and the sites are rated on a four-way scale: not applicable, satisfactory, marginal and unsatisfactory.

The 'marginal' designation is described as a situation in which a concern has been identified and corrective action is strongly recommended to remain in compliance. The unsatisfactory designation is described as a situation in which a violation has been identified and the site is not in compliance. Under the unsatisfactory designation, corrective action is required.

In the 13 letters obtained by Eyewitness News since the project began, the developer consistently received unsatisfactory or marginal ratings. Never once did the site receive a satisfactory rating when it came to erosion control measures.

In may 2013, county officials reported the conditions at the site 'present a high potential for off-site sedimentation,' according to records obtained by Eyewitness News. Over and over gain, engineers reported that sediment had left the site and fed into a woman's lake nearby. The run-off could possibly threaten the area's ecosystem, according to Michael Lockard of the Westside Improvement Association.

On March 24th, 2014, engineers discovered blue dye present in the ditch and recommended that it be removed, according to records. A week later records show engineers found the blue dye and sediment had again left the site and dumped into the woman's lake.

The woman believes the dye was in an effort to mask or conceal the run-off. The damage, she estimated, could cost $120,000 and take two years of work to fix.

Buck said the erosion issues trace back to abnormally heavy rains. However, weather records show only twice did it rain more than an inch on the days before the inspections were done. Buck said he's doing everything he can to rectify the situation.

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