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Construction site operator found guilty of failing to obtain storm-water permits

By: Ali Teske//June 22, 2022//

Construction site operator found guilty of failing to obtain storm-water permits

By: Ali Teske//June 22, 2022//

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A jury has found a Waterford man guilty of failing to carry out storm-water best practices at a Milwaukee construction site, the DOJ announced Monday.

Steven Sharpe was sentenced to pay $39,531.00 as a monetary penalty and is now prohibited from submitting storm-water permitting documents to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for three years. The state alleged Sharped had committed five violations, including failing to obtain a storm-water discharge permit, develop a storm-water management plan and inspect storm-water best-management practices.

According to the court complaint, Sharpe had an agreement with Gregorio Montoto, Valdemar Escobar and Mauricio Zermeno, business partners operating under the name Sport Center, for the construction of a recreational soccer field on five acres with areas of delineated wetland at 9622 W. Allyn Street, 9015 North 96th Street and 9125 North 96th Street, in Milwaukee.

De-vegetation and other construction activities for the project began in December 2015. The DNR issued the first of its many citations to Sport Center on Feb. 17, 2016, for its failure to obtain proper permitting and to have an erosion-control plan in place. A stop-work order was issued by Milwaukee on February 25, but the work continued.

At a May 3 DNR enforcement conference, Montoto informed the DNR that he had hired Sharpe to obtain the needed storm-water permits. At that same conference, Sharpe acknowledged he was an architect with experience related to storm-water permitting.

A second enforcement conference was held on Sept. 8. The complaint alleges that the defendants told the DNR they might scrap their plans for the soccer complex and build apartments instead. The DNR provided photographic evidence showing that silt fences at the site were not being maintained, and that runoff was leaving the site and discharging to a nearby street. According to the complaint, Sharpe said he had been unable to complete a permit application online.

The court documents acknowledge that Sharpe submitted design and inspection reports for the site to the DNR, purchased certain erosion-control materials for the site and discussed storm-water permitting with the DNR and the city of Milwaukee. A completed notice of intent to provide a point-source discharge of storm water from the site to waters of the state was never submitted despite back-and-forth communication between Sharpe and the DNR. Inspection reports were not submitted after December 2016.

On at least 24 occasions from February 2016 to October 2019, water with sediment from the construction site ran into surrounding streets and sidewalks. Between those dates, the DNR staff also conducted 24 inspections of the site. During 13 of those, storm-water practices were not being carried out.

Sport Center was administratively dissolved on December 10, 2018.

The DOJ said runoff from the site is continuing to affect Milwaukee’s municipal storm-water system, nearby wetlands and the Little Menomonee River.

Sharpe pleaded no contest and was sentenced on June 10.

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