September 26, 2008

DEM, Cambio Sign Cleanup Pact for Business Park

By Lisa Vernon-Sparks; David E Chopy

COVENTRY -- Developer Nicholas E. Cambio has signed an agreement with the state to prevent the erosion of soil from his Centre of New England business park into neighboring lakes and wetlands.

Under the agreement signed Sept. 11, Cambio must pay the Department of Environment $103,000 in fines and place $225,000 in escrow to perform drainage and other work to protect the abutting properties.

The agreement lists a timetable for compliance in various areas. It states Cambio has until Tuesday to complete all work associated with installing sediment basins and other structures to curb runoff. He has until 2011 to clean up wetlands damaged by continuing development in the 480-acre business park.

The agreement -- technically a court consent order -- is the latest development in a battle between the DEM and the developer that has gone on for years.

Since Cambio began developing the park -- a mix of retail, commercial and residential construction off Arnold Road -- nearly 10 years ago, soil erosion, silt and sediment run-off have contaminated nearby lakes and streams.

The affected water bodies included the 229-acre Tiogue Lake, Little Tiogue Lake, Lake George, and Rope Walk Pond and Brook.

In 2001, the DEM sued Cambio in Superior Court for violating antipollution laws and wetlands regulations. The agency prevailed in the lawsuit but early last year it cited him for failing to make the needed improvements.

Now, Cambio "will be in compliance with these particular issues we have cited him for," said David E. Chopy, supervising sanitary engineer in the DEM's Office of Compliance and Inspection. "It has been a complicated case, because of the size of the place, the number of entities, and the number of activities going on."

Cambio's lawyer, Peter D. Ruggiero could not be reached for comment.

The consent agreement names only one of Cambio's companies, Commerce Park Associates 4, as liable for following up with the measures listed in the agreement. The original violation notice named Cambio and 15 companies he owns that are all connected to the Centre of New England. The DEM chose one company and stipulated that Cambio could not transfer ownership of this particular entity or its assets without the agency's approval, Chopy said.

"They have made a lot of progress. They made a lot changes to the site to improve it," Chopy said.

Besides installing sediment basins to catch discharge, he has planted large areas of vegetation and done selective paving, Chopy said. In addition, Cambio has been cleaning up wetlands within the park's borders.

"They have some more work on the site to do, but most of the work they have involves the restoration on the off-site wetlands," Chopy said.

Jeff Hakanson, president of the Tiogue Lake Association, whose group had been pushing for a clean-up since the beginning, said he is pleased something was finally being accomplished.

"This has been a violation since day one. I'm glad they are getting their act together," Hakanson said. "Hopefully we are coming to an end of the silt-laden events that have plagued Tiogue Lake and associated wetlands. I appreciate the DEM's efforts."

"They have made a lot of progress. They made a lot changes to the site to improve it."

Originally published by Lisa Vernon-Sparks, Journal Staff Writer.

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