Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality has issued fines totaling $118,203 to a developer and construction company for water-quality violations at the Grand Cove development in Oregon City.
DEQ has set a May 25 deadline to appeal or pay the fines for allowing toxic stormwater to run off the construction site and into Clackamette Cove and the Clackamas and Willamette rivers. Construction contractors have begun to capture runoff in tanks and transport it to a wastewater-treatment facility.
The Cove, a 43-acre mixed-use development adjacent to the Clackamette Cove, is near the intersection of Main Street and McLoughlin Boulevard. Construction currently is underway on 244 units of garden-style apartments, along with about 12,000 square feet of live/work office space and recreational facilities, going in next to the Oregon City Shopping Center, on the south side of Main Street across from the Clackamas River Trail.
Construction has already fallen months behind on the $75 million project. Main Street originally was scheduled to reopen this spring, but now city officials are hoping it will reopen by the end of the summer.
"A lot of good things are going on at the Cove, despite the fact that Main Street has been closed a lot longer than we thought," said Oregon City Public Works Director John Lewis. "That's where this contractor will shine is with their building construction; we're hoping for that anyway."
A second phase of 370 units, including some live-work units, is being contemplated on the north side of Main Street along the Clackamas River Trail. Retail spaces are planned totaling 23,200 square feet next to a public plaza, including two restaurants providing 8,000 square feet. For residents, there would be a community center/lounge of 4,000 square feet and a 2,700-square-foot fitness center, said Ed Darrow, the project manager for Clackamette Cove LLC, a separate developer from the Grand Cove LLC being fined by DEQ.
"We've modified that plaza considerably so that it will be very public, with space for outside dining, music and a weekend market," Darrow said. "It'll attract people to the area and be a destination spot."
Oregon City's Urban Renewal Commission, the owner of the site, in 2015 agreed to reimburse the developer $695,000 after the completion of the Clackamette Cove projects, Darrow said. Another $50,000 was used to complete an environmental assessment, and a mitigation plan is being developed.
Two known toxic cleanup sites, Parker Pond and the old Rossman Landfill, drain into the Cove project. DEQ sampling indicates that these sites contain contaminants including petroleum hydrocarbons, heavy metals and PCBs.
Earlier this year, Oregon City and DEQ officials on multiple occasions observed turbid stormwater discharging from the construction site to the Clackamas River and Clackamette Cove.
DEQ assessed Grand Cove LLC, developer of the south side of the Cove, an $87,603 civil penalty for failing to implement erosion and sediment control measures, as required by DEQ's June 2016 construction permit, to prevent discharge of sediment to nearby waterways. DEQ officials estimated that about $72,000 of the fine represents the economic benefit Grand Cove gained by failing to implement adequate stormwater controls.
R&H Construction Co., the construction company for development, has been assessed a $30,600 civil penalty by DEQ for causing pollution to an Oregon waterway.
"DEQ assessed these penalties because failure to implement stormwater erosion controls can cause pollution in waterways that impact fish and other beneficial uses," said DEQ spokeswoman Jennifer Flynt. "Grand Cove LLC's permit requires various control measures in order to protect waterways from erosion and turbidity caused by construction projects. The discharges from the site to Clackamette Cove and the Clackamas River were turbid and contained numerous other pollutants from contaminated soil at the site that may harm fish and other beneficial uses of waters of the state."
Under DEQ direction, R&H Construction has begun stormwater containment and treatment in several areas on the site. In the next couple months, Clackamette Cove LLC, the developer on the north side of the site, is expected to ask OC's Urban Renewal Commission to approve a new development agreement that will allow for its increased density proposals.