U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recover $400,000 civil penalty in
settlement of Clean Water Act and consent decree violations by Century Homebuilders
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 2006 Clean Water Act violation case against Century Homebuilders has been closed with the receipt of payment of $400,000 in civil penalties plus the purchase of $60,000 in mitigation credits from Everglades National Park. The penalties were assessed in a 2010 consent decree (CD) between the U.S. District Court in Miami and Century Homebuilders when Century Homebuilders failed to fulfill its commitment to enhance 47 acres of wetlands associated with a residential development in the city of Doral, Miami-Dade County, Fla.
The Clean Water Act requires authorization in the form of a Department of the Army permit, issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, for the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, including certain wetlands. The permit issued to Century Homebuilders authorized impacts to 415 acres of wetlands for the Doral development, with the condition that the company offset those impacts by enhancing 47 acres of wetlands on site and restoring other wetlands in Everglades National Park.
The Corps found that Century Homebuilders failed to enhance the 47-acre on site parcel to the level required by the permit. The U.S. District Court in Miami approved a CD, resolving a complaint for injunctive relief and civil penalties brought by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on behalf of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, alleging violations of the Clean Water Act by Century Homebuilders, LLC, its vice president of land development and related entities. The CD ordered Century Homebuilders and other defendants to pay a penalty, maintain and preserve the on-site wetlands in perpetuity and purchase $60,000 worth of wetland mitigation credits from Everglades National Park to account for the delay in enhancing the on-site wetlands.
Following entry of the CD, the corporate defendants failed to comply with all of its terms and conditions, including timely payment of the civil penalty, and sold the wetland mitigation parcel without properly advising the government. DOJ subsequently initiated contempt of court proceedings, and a court-approved settlement followed in April 2012. As part of the settlement, the corporate representative of Century Homebuilders, Sergio Pino, became personally responsible for the civil penalty. Pino had not been named as a defendant when the CD was entered.
As of April 1, 2013, the government has recovered all monies due. While monitoring continues, all remedial work on the 47-acre parcel has been completed and financial assurances to permanently protect the site have been put in place.
“Compliance and enforcement is an important component of the Corps’ regulatory program and helps us to ensure the continued protection of our nation’s aquatic resources,” said Theresa Hudson, chief of Jacksonville District’s enforcement section. “We take violations and unauthorized activities very seriously.”
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