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Tennessee Clean
Water Network

123A S. Gay St.
Knoxville, TN 37902

Office: 865.522.7007
Fax: 865.525.4988

Rarity Communities Violates Settlement Agreement

November 20th, 2008 by Dana Wright

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!



3 Responses to “Rarity Communities Violates Settlement Agreement”

  1. DOEadeer Says:

    Just saw your posting. The pollution problems with Ross goes way beyond this project, Dana. Did you see where Ross’ business partner was named to a DOE environmental oversight board last week? TDEC also has major environmental oversight role at DOE.

    Akins is the very same scuzzball who wrote the priceless verbiage about this development describing it as an “eco-friendly community” that will “leave its natural resources in place.” Oh, puhleeze.

    I would humbly recommend TCWN follow up with not only Ross but Akins as well. Check out the comments and links on Frank Munger’s blog about Akins appointment:

    This stinks to high heaven.

  2. Renée Hoyos Says:

    Stinks is right! You know, this was one of the major multimillion dollar enforcement actions taken in ‘07. You’d think TDEC and the AG’s office would have followed up better? What am I thinking?!!!!

  3. jpl Says:

    Glad to see someone else out there shining light on these cockroaches. Here’s something that has gone largely unnoticed by the MSM. Ross and the former assessor (now mayor) from Loudon Co. have been under investigation by local DA Russell Johnson. Last month, Johnson turned over his info to the TBI. Seems Ross got a sweetheart assessment that allowed him to avoid big, big bucks on his taxes. New assessor blew the whistle. You can find the story here:


    Sumbody might be going to prison over this…..

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