TDEC Critic Involved in Mitigation Melee

As part of a story on the controversy over the state’s mitigation program and related legislation, Anne Paine uses the example of a Sumner County creek that was apparently damaged by a development that was supposed to pay into the mitigation fund, but did not.
Halo Properties LLC had sought permission about four years ago to shorten and move the creek. It agreed to pay $140,000 to the Tennessee Stream Mitigation Program for the approval to do so. The company also contracted to pay $27,000 to fill in a 0.39-acre wetland elsewhere.
The money for wetlands was paid in 2008 to the Harpeth Wetland Bank, but documents show the $140,000 was not, despite the requirement.
“My understanding is it is being paid,” said Danny Hale of Halo Realty in Hendersonville. “Either it has or it will be,” he said.
He was a partner in Halo Properties but said that company is in receivership. He said the property was sold two years ago.
….A road was built across the property where the creek was shifted and the wetlands removed, but no development was built.
In January 2009, the state issued a notice of violation to Halo Properties, on grounds that included the failure to pay the $140,000. An official invoice to Halo from the stream mitigation program was not sent until November 2011, though Halo asked for one earlier.
One of two annual required monitoring reports of the site where the stream was shifted has not been received, TDEC officials said last week.
The issue is being assessed by the state’s water pollution control division, Meg Lockhart, TDEC spokeswoman, said Friday.
Sulkin’s group and the Tennessee Environmental Council, meanwhile, are taking action on a situation they say has only lingered.
They said they sent notice Friday that they intend to sue Danny Hale of Halo for polluting streams.
The company has failed to meet requirements, including not having paid the stream mitigation money, not planting enough trees and not establishing a 50-foot buffer on each side of the stream, they say in their letter.
…Hale is one of the businesspeople who blasted TDEC in round-table talks Gov. Bill Haslam held last year as comments were sought on how to make the state more business-friendly

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