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Archive for November, 2008

Rarity Communities Violates Settlement Agreement

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Early last month the TCWN staff conducted a site visit at Rarity Oaks.  The purpose of this visit was to determine if the site was in compliance with a settlement Rarity Communities, Inc. and TDEC signed in May of this year.  You see, since June of 2006, Rarity Oaks has been in violation of TDEC’s rules and regulations for land disturbing activities and impacting waters of the state.  At first the site was being graded and waters of the state were being excavated all without permits.  I find it difficult to believe Rarity Communities, who has developed numerous previously undisturbed tracts of land in Eastern Tennessee, was unaware they needed a permit.  Once TDEC did issue them permits the developer consistently failed to install the appropriate measures to protect our waters which in turn caused significant amounts of sediment to pollute two streams on site.  Over the course of two years TDEC issued the site 2 notices of violation, and finally in April of 2007, filed a Commissioner’s Order against Rarity.  This type of order requires the permit holder to complete specific tasks and establishes a fine to be paid for violations. Rarity, of course, appealed this order, and in May of this year settled with TDEC in what is called an Agreed Order which also addressed permit violations from another Rarity site.

So TCWN became curious as to whether Rarity had complied with this Agreed Order.  We spoke with TDEC’s Knoxville Environmental Field Office, conducted a file search and finally visited the site.   This is what we found:

Which causes this:

It was obvious Rarity had not complied with the Agreed Order.  Our next step was to let TDEC know.  We wrote them a letter detailing each way in which the conditions of the Agreed Order had not been met. We requested the site immediately be stabilized and for Rarity to pay the full extent of the fine, which is $2,500 a day.  TDEC promptly and adequately responded to our letter in a brief statement agreeing the site was not complying with the Order.  TDEC stated they fully intend to enforce the Order and will keep TCWN copied with any follow up actions on the matter.  Thanks TDEC!

This site is a perfect example of blatant disregard for the rules and direct indifference towards causing conditions of pollution in our waters.  How many of us would sign a binding legal agreement to complete certain tasks and then walk away without fulfilling any of them?  There is no reason for deliberately ignoring the Order. This is a developer working throughout Eastern Tennessee who has no excuse to be unaware of the rules or be in consistent violation of them.  We appreciate TDEC’s recognition of these obvious violations and look forward to working with the Department to address this issue. We also hope TDEC recognizes this pattern of behavior in which some developers either think they are above the rules or simply believe they won’t get caught if they break them. Why else would Rarity Communities, Inc. so deliberately break the rules and the conditions of the settlement unless they believed they could get away with it?

Most recently, we got curious again and went back to the site last week.  And this is what we found on our second visit:

Apparently Rarity Communities does not like the public knowing what is happening on their site.  It’s great to see the site has been seeded and straw has been distributed to initiate stabilization, however, there is much more to be done.  We’ll keep you posted on what happens next!

This water could be a lot more fun…

Friday, November 14th, 2008

It was a big day today.  The Guy loaded me up in the truck and we went to work. Instead of getting out and going to the office, I was thrown in the way back and The Other Lady, The Lady Next Door, and The Lady with the Treats all jumped in.  Even though I was denied my normal seat next to the Guy, I was excited that we were all going on a trip.

So after a drive in the car (the back is fun, btw!  You can see the other dogs better and growl at them. I recommend it.) we went to look at the water.  I think i need to tell you readers out there; I do not like the water…I love the water.  So when we saw all of the water that was out there, I was sure that this would be a big day for Koa.

But the water is all muddy.  I can’t see the fish and I’m not allowed to even jump in.


On the way home, The Other Lady was talking about things that we can do to make sure the water doesn’t get so muddy.  She was saying that there are rules that need to be followed by people digging (I like to dig!) in the dirt to keep it from going into the streams and killing the fish (I like fish, too!).

The Other Lady works hard at helping people in Nashville make and follow rules to help with this stuff.  On the drive home, I showed her how to growl.  I think she should try that when she talks to the people in Nashville.

I hope it works soon.  The water isn’t as fun when I can’t get in.

New ways to keep up with TCWN

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

If you just can’t get enough of TCWN, then have I got great news for you.

You can now follow us on Twitter.

You can join our cause on Facebook.

You can even be our friend on MySpace.

Still not enough?  Then feel free to upload water-related photos to our group on Flickr or link your water videos to our YouTube Channel.

That should keep you busy for awhile.

Giles County Update

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

I’ve just returned from Giles Co. where I spoke to the Environmental committee about water corporatization and options for grants if the spring stays in public ownership.

First let me say that the community has done wonders educating their decisionmakers on the evils of water corporatization.  Many members of the committee did not want to see the spring sold to an outside company.  My job was merely to bat in the final player and I think that was done. It looks like the majority of the county commission is supportive of keeping the spring in public hands.  Phew!!

However, Ice River Springs, a Canadian company still has their paper work into the state.  They are still players in Tennessee’s water market and frankly, until they leave, they will always be a threat.

We are still going to monitor the events of Giles County and update those to you.


Greetings from the newest member of TCWN

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Woof! My name is Koa. I’m a puppy. My job is to lighten up people around here, sheesh! I bring puppy perspective to current water issues. But mostly I let them pet me. Especially the lady in the big office. What’s with her? She’s always trying to get me to come to her. I know she’s going to pick me up which isn’t so bad, but then she doesn’t let me lick her face. I don’t come to her too often. Like never.

I spend most of my time with my Guy. You know him as Greg. He does mapping and his computer is so slow, he has time to pay attention to me. I go home with him. He’s a big guy and so I feel safe when I stand behind him and have to bark at something.

I like Kristina. She’s the only one I go to. She has snacks in her desk drawer so that’s why.

I try to get Dana to play with me but she’s too busy working. Whatever. She probably likes cats.

That Morgan person is nice, but she has dogs of her own. I can smell them.

Sometimes when things get too serious in staff meetings, I fart. That gets them out of the conference room and cooled off. I can do it without opening my eyes. I’m a big girl now. I sent Dana to the bathroom on Monday. What did they do before I came on board? I’ll never know.

They take me on water sampling trips and Guy, I mean Greg, takes me on his wetland trips. You may think I only have a knees high view, but I see things you can’t see. I’ll be reporting from my lofty perch here on the ground about clean water in Tennessee.

This is Koa reporting from Puppy Perspective. Over and out!