Holst Excavating Inc., Prescott, and its owners and operators, William Holst and Nancy Beeler, have agreed to pay a $25,000 fine to the state and will come into compliance with the state’s erosion control laws under the terms of a civil environmental settlement announced Monday by Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources had asked the state’s Department of Justice to prosecute the company for violating state stormwater permitting and erosion control laws in the course of its construction of a real estate development project known as the Diamond Bluff Addition located in the town of Diamond Bluff.
Under state law, Van Hollen said in a news release, owners of construction sites where an acre or more of land will be disturbed must apply to the DNR and obtain coverage under a water pollution control permit regulating stormwater runoff before construction can begin. According to the release, after Holst applied for stormwater permit coverage in early 2006, the DNR reviewed the available archaeological and historical information and found indications that a number of archaeological sites were present on the property.
For that reason the DNR repeatedly asked Holst to contact the Wisconsin Historical Society for more detailed information about how the company might be able to proceed with the project before DNR could decide whether to issue Holst a stormwater permit.
In the fall of 2007, without first advising the DNR, without conducting an archaeological investigation or getting clearance from the Wisconsin Historical Society, and without obtaining stormwater permit coverage, Holst proceeded to construct roadways and drainage ditches for the first of the three planned phases of development for Diamond Ridge, according to the release. After the DNR’s discovery of the unpermitted construction activities, William Holst told the DNR that he got tired of waiting for the various government approvals and went ahead without them.
Although available archeological information indicates the presence of burial mounds in the vicinity, a subsequent investigation indicated that none were damaged during the first unlawful phase of construction.
The violations charged in the civil case were:
• During October 2007, the defendants disturbed about 2.04 acres of land in the course of constructing some 900 feet of roadways, cul-de-sacs and ditches, all without the required stormwater permit.
• From October 2, 2007, until at least April 11, 2008, the defendants failed to implement and maintain the required best management practices to minimize the possible discharge of eroding sediments from the disturbed lands.
According to the release, in the spring of 2008, about five months after the ground was first disturbed, a DNR inspector observed that no erosion control BMPs were in place at this site. There was no seeding, no mulching, no ditch checks installed and no silt fence in place, according to the release.
Assistant Attorney General Thomas L. Dosch represented the state.
The full Diamond Bluff Addition development is expected to contain about 28 single-family home sites on a 39-acre parcel of land near the Mississippi River.