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MAJOR DEVELOPERS AGREE TO RESTORE WETLANDS NEAR ATLANTA

 WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Windward Properties Inc. and Mobil Land Development (Georgia) Corp. have agreed to provide up to $225,000 in funding for wetland preservation projects near Atlanta, and to pay $100,000 in civil penalties as part of a more than $750,000 settlement for illegally filling three creeks and nearby wetlands, the Department of Justice announced today.
 The civil enforcement action, originally filed in 1991 in U.S. District Court in Atlanta by the department on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), alleges five Clean Water Act violations against Windward Properties Inc. and Mobil Land Development Corp., the developers of the 3,400-acre private residential and commercial Windward community in Alpharetta, Ga.
 The violations involved illegally filling wetlands for the construction of two road crossings, as well as the clearing and grading of a 23-acre wetland site in 1988, and the construction of Lake Windward Dam and an associated sports park in the early 1980s. A partial settlement announced earlier this year resolved all the alleged violations except those involving the dam and the sports park.
 The settlement followed a court decision that established an important principal that the statute of limitations for wetlands violations does not begin to run at least until the date the government reasonably could have discovered the violation, the department said.
 In today's action, the government lodged a partial consent decree with the court that completes a settlement process that began with the entry of another partial consent decree in May 1993. Taken together, the two consent decrees require Windward and Mobil to pay $175,000 in civil penalties; restore a 23-acre wetland; preserve in perpetuity about 55 acres of wetlands off-site and on-site; and provide up to $225,000 in funding for other wetlands projects near Alpharetta.
 "This is a significant accomplishment for our wetlands enforcement program and the environment," said Lois Schiffer, acting assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division. "The settlement is the culmination of almost five years of coordinated administrative proceedings and litigation by the department and EPA. Our commitment to this case illustrates our commitment to pursue wetlands violations nationwide."
 Acting EPA Regional Administrator Patrick M. Tobin said, "The settlement terms in the case demonstrate EPA's commitment to enforce wetlands requirements and our resolve to protect critical wetlands habitat in the rapidly developing Southeast."
 "The settlement reached in this case represents the continuing interest of the U.S. Attorney's Office in achieving compliance with environmental statutes in a manner which benefits all Georgians," said Gerrilyn G. Brill, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.
 Notice of the lodging of the consent decree with the court will be published in the Federal Register for a 30-day public comment period, after which time the consent decree may be entered by the court.
 -0- 12/13/93
 /CONTACT: Hagan Thompson of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 404-347-3004, or the Department of Justice, 202-616-2765 (TDD, 202-514-1888)/


CO: Windward Properties Inc.; Mobil Land Development (Georgia) Corp.;
 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; U.S. Department of Justice ST: Georgia IN: EXE SU: ENV


BN-BR -- AT002 -- 3251 12/13/93 14:45 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 13, 1993
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