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Developer Fined Over Orchids: New Town’s Builders Crossed Onto Land Protected for the Flower.

June 24, 2008

By Nicolas Zimmerman, Daily Press, Newport News, Va.

Jun. 24–JAMES CITY — The developers of New Town will pay more than $21,000 in civil fines for inadvertently clearing a little under a quarter of an acre of protected land surrounding a rare colony of endangered orchid, according to a consent order issued this month by the state Department of Environmental Quality.

The order was issued after New Town’s environmental consultants contacted DEQ last October to alert them that work crews had cleared, grubbed and graded land set aside for preservation in the developer’s permit to build near wetlands and streams.

The company blamed the foul-up on inaccurately placed flags.

New Town, a 300-acre mixed-used development near the intersection of Ironbound Road and Monticello Avenue, has been dogged by the endangered plant since late 2006, when a colony was discovered on the site’s southeastern edge. James City County’s Planning Commission ultimately agreed to let the developer build a narrower-than-normal buffer between New Town’s residential area and Route 199.

The species of pogonia is listed on the U.S. government’s register of endangered plant species and on Virginia’s register of threatened plant species. In addition to encroaching on the pogonia preserve’s buffer zone, New Town inadvertently cleared roughly .05 acres of wetlands buffer zone.

A message left for a New Town representative wasn’t immediately returned Thursday.

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Copyright (c) 2008, Daily Press, Newport News, Va.

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