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West Fargo developer fined for violating run-off rules

Map: Charleswood

A West Fargo real estate developer must pay $37,500 in civil penalties after violating federal standards involving storm water run-off at its construction sites.

The Environmental Protection Agency sued Charleswood Inc. after the company failed a 2004 inspection that revealed the developer had not performed dozens of required self-inspections or reports.

The inspections were necessary to keep track of construction practices that prevent run-off of concrete sediment and chemicals into nearby storm drains. The practices were not implemented at Charleswood, according to the federal lawsuit.

The suit was filed in Fargo's U.S. District Court, along with an agreement indicating the developer and the EPA already had resolved the matter outside of court.

Several attempts Wednesday to reach representatives of Charleswood Inc., including a visit to the company's West Fargo headquarters, were unsuccessful.

The Charleswood development includes 480 acres north of 13th Avenue, east of Sheyenne Street, west of Ninth Street and south of Interstate 94.

Lawsuits against construction developers have become more frequent since the EPA stepped up its campaign to stop damaging storm water run-off, said Andrew Ames, a spokesman for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

"There's a high potential for harm," Ames said. "The run-off can flow directly into the nearest waterway, carrying any of the pollutants from the site, which can be sediment and chemicals."

According to the EPA's lawsuit, Charleswood failed to complete about 65 inspections and reports between October 2003 and March 2005.

As part of the settlement between the EPA and Charleswood, the West Fargo developer did not admit any liability as to the allegations in the EPA's lawsuit.

However, Charleswood is required to implement site procedures and self-inspections to ensure there is no future storm water run-off in the area's construction sites.