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EPA sends Harbor Point plan back for revisions

Plans for the $1 billion Harbor Point development have been disapproved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency amid concerns over monitoring of toxic waste during construction on the site.

In a letter sent to Beatty Development Group LLC, EPA officials from the regional office in Philadelphia raised questions about the plan for monitoring the potential discharge of hexavalent chromium as more than 1,000 pylons are drilled through a protective cap to help anchor a 23-story high-rise for Exelon and other development.

Harbor Point

FILE-The Harbor Point site is shown from the Legg Mason building, in this Sept. 10, 2013 file photo. (The Daily Record Photo/Maximilian Franz, File)

EPA officials set a 30-day deadline for revisions to the development plans. The letter is dated Oct. 31. Approval from EPA and the Maryland Department of the Environment is required before construction may begin.

In the meantime, officials at the MDE also sent a disapproval letter to Beatty Development with a separate list of concerns, agency spokesman Jay Apperson said Friday.

“The whole thing is an interactive process,” Apperson said of the work by the two environmental agencies that will require revisions by the developer before approval can be given. “Eventually, if all comments are addressed, everything can be approved, but we’re not there yet.”

Marco Greenberg, vice president of Beatty Development Group, said in an emailed statement that the agencies’ feedback was expected and that the developers will strive to meet the 30-day deadline.

A public forum on the project’s environmental issues called by City Councilman James B. Kraft is scheduled for Nov. 14 at the Morgan Stanley building, which opened at Harbor Point in 2010. EPA and MDE officials are expected to attend the forum, along with Beatty Development executives.

The 27-acre Harbor Point was once the location of Allied Signal, an industrial chromium plant that ceased to manufacture the toxic substance there in 1985.

In 1989, a consent decree was signed by Allied (which was acquired by Honeywell), the EPA and the Maryland Department of the Environment to investigate the extent of contamination of the soil on the waterfront site. As part of a $100 million cleanup that started in 1990, the chromium was ultimately covered by a protective cap.

Beatty Development has said it needs to pierce the protective cap in order to develop the property. Michael Beatty, president of the development company, has also said the project is more costly because of the chromium cap and the extra environmental concerns.

This summer, after much bitter debate, city leaders voted to issue up to $125 million in tax increment financing, or TIF, bonds, to help pay for portions of the project.

Beatty had said he hoped to break ground on the Exelon tower this fall.

But negotiations between the developer, EPA and MDE have been ongoing for months on the detailed development plan, or DDP, for the site.

The EPA’s disapproval of the DDP means groundbreaking will be delayed for at least one more month.

“Our team appreciates the feedback from EPA and MDE on the Harbor Point detailed development plan,” Beatty Development Group’s Greenberg said in his emailed statement. “It is a very comprehensive plan, and we anticipated that both agencies would have comments as part of the normal process in a project of this scope. Both agencies have requested additional information, which we are eager to provide.

“The consent decree governing the site mandates that EPA either ‘approve’ a DDP if it has no comments, or ‘disapprove’ it if it requires additional information,” Greenberg added. “EPA has requested that the background air monitoring conducted at their request be redone using a different method. We look forward to working with the agencies to complete this additional monitoring.”