I-TEAM: Contractor pushes back against regulators over construction site runoff

Owner claims an unauthorized person started a pump that dumped cloudy water into Pottsburg Creek

Owner claims an unauthorized person started a pump that dumped cloudy water into Pottsburg Creek.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – City and state inspectors on Wednesday once again visited a dig site in a neighborhood along Pottsburg Creek as neighbors continue to voice concern over potential environmental impacts.

One of the contractors involved sent a letter to state investigators in response, saying his crews had nothing to do with pumping cloudy water into the wetlands and creek.

In a letter sent to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Dirt on Demand LLC owner Daniel Bergin sent a log of activity on the Grove Park Boulevard site in Glynlea. The I-TEAM obtained it through a public records request.

“NO employee or subcontractor of Dirt On Demand LLC started the pump and moved the discharge hose to outfall into the creek on Friday July 16th, 2021,” Bergin wrote.

He went on to write that the project may have been tampered with by a trespasser or trespassers.

“This appears to be the work of an unaffiliated and unauthorized person(s) torturously interfering with the permitted construction activity being performed onsite.”

When reached by phone Wednesday morning, Bergin told the I-TEAM it speaks for itself. However, he added that he hopes to wrap up work at the site in the coming days.

The project has gotten negative reviews from neighbors who’ve been upset about the constant traffic and dirt left behind as dump trucks come and go along the residential road.

The trucks are hauling dirt from a construction site for a future Wawa gas station on Baymeadows Road. Crews there remove dirt, which is then transported to the Grove Park property. There, excavators with Shaw’s Land Clearing remove the dark dirt and replace it with light dirt from the property. That’s brought back to the gas station project.

Neither Shaw’s nor Brightway Real Estate has responded to requests for comment.

Records show Baymont II LLC purchased the property in April for $115,000. Since then, contractors have been digging on the site, which is behind homes, next to protected wetlands and just yards away from Pottsburg Creek. The creek feeds into the St. Johns River.

Drone video from neighbor Michael Best, which he says he took Friday, shows what appears to be silt for hundreds of yards into the creek. He said he was unsure if it was hazardous to the environment. His video traces streams back to the site, where a large water pump and hoses appeared to be operating.

At least two neighbors adjacent to the property have claimed the construction is causing their homes to shake, prompting structural concerns.

Chunxia Wang showed the I-TEAM cracks in her brick wall on her home, which she says surfaced after the work began. She showed her doors are also out of place, blaming her problems on what’s happening in her backyard.

“Certainly we like the natural areas around this and we hate seeing things this way,” said John Hale, who’s filed two complaints with the city.

On Wednesday, News4Jax saw both city and state inspectors on site, interviewing neighbors and taking water samples. Equipment was working on the site, but no trucks were coming and going like when the I-TEAM started investigating on Monday.

COJ seen at Pottsburg Creek on July 21, 2021.

City inspectors were still working on reports and possible enforcement action. They said they should be ready soon.

State inspectors said they also anticipated enforcement action and reports should be finalized in the coming weeks. Both said they were watching the project closely.

About the Author:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.