Wis. AG settles with construction company

Bryan Cohen Apr. 13, 2011, 12:26pm

Van Hollen

ELLSWORTH, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced on Monday that his office has resolved civil environmental prosecution it brought against a Prescott, Wis., construction company and its owners and operators.

Holst Excavating Inc. allegedly violated state stormwater permitting and erosion control laws during its construction of a real estate project called the "Diamond Bluff Addition," a development of 28 single-family homes on a 39-acre parcel of land near the Mississippi River in Diamond Bluff, Wis.

Holst Excavating and owners Wiliam Holst and Nancy Beeler allegedly failed to apply to the DNR to obtain coverage under a water pollution control permit regulating storm water runoff before beginning construction. The DNR must consider whether a proposed project will affect any "historic properties" like archaeological sites before granting approval.

Holst Excavating allegedly applied for stormwater permit coverage in early 2006 and was asked to contact the Wisconsin Historical Society for more detailed information due to a number of archaeological sites present on the property.

The defendants allegedly began to construct roadways and drainage ditches in the fall of 2007 without first advising the DNR, conducting an archaeological investigation, getting clearance from the Wisconsin Historical Society or obtaining stormwater permit coverage.

After learning of the construction activities, the DNR contacted William Holst, who allegedly said that he grew tired of waiting for government approval and proceeded without it.

The civil case alleges that the defendants disturbed approximately 2.04 acres of land without the required stormwater permit and that from Oct. 2, 2007 until April 11, 2008, the defendants failed to implement and maintain best management practices to minimize the possible discharge of eroding sediments from the disturbed lands.

"The Wisconsin Department of Justice will continue to work with DNR to ensure that water quality and archaeological site protection laws are followed," Van Hollen said.

In the settlement agreement, the defendants have committed to returning the construction project to compliance with erosion control laws by completing the permit process for the first phase of development. They will also conduct all compulsory archaeological investigations and obtain all required water pollution control permits before engaging in the construction of subsequent phases of the real estate project. The defendants will also pay attorney fees, surcharges, penalties and costs totaling $25,000.

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