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EPA sends Harbor Point plan back to developer for more changes

EPA and MDE say Beatty needs to improve his air monitoring plan before Harbor Point construction can start

Above: EPA still has objections to the air monitoring plan at Harbor Point, which stretches along the waterfront between Harbor East and Fells Point.

Harbor Point’s developer has more work to do to satisfy environmental regulators, who are asking for more modifications to the project’s safety plan before they will permit groundbreaking at the chromium-contaminated site.

Russell H. Fish, remediation manager for the Environmental Protection Agency, wrote that a “satisfactory response” to dozens of technical questions is required before the Beatty Development Group can start construction of the Exelon Tower on the grounds of a former Allied Chemical factory.

The Maryland Department of the Environment concurs with the EPA’s decision, spokesman Jay Apperson said today.

At issue are procedures that will alert regulators about whether chromium particles are being released into the air during construction. In early December, regulators approved a detailed design plan for the Exelon Tower, but required submission of air monitoring and quality assurance plans.

On the basis of the design approval, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and the Board of Estimates last month approved $36 million in TIF municipal bonds to fund infrastructure improvements at Harbor Point, including a new connecting bridge via Central Avenue.

The funds are the first of $107 million in bond money expected to be spent for roads, parks and a waterfront promenade at the site.

Another Delay to Exelon Tower

While it was widely believed that the EPA and MDE would approve the air monitoring plan, the two agencies instead have asked for dozens of changes to plan documents. The changes are contained in a 15-page letter, dated January 30, to Jonathan Flesher, senior development director of the Beatty Group.

The changes will likely push back groundbreaking of the 23-story Exelon Tower until mid to late March because it will require at least 15 days of baseline testing after approval of the monitoring plan before construction can begin.

Developer Michael Beatty is under tremendous pressure to get started on the Exelon Tower, the only building so far committed to the site. He originally promised to open the tower for occupancy by the summer of 2015, but this date is no longer feasible.

Apperson said MDE and EPA are being extra careful in their approval of sampling methodologies and air monitoring because “we want these to be the best available” to guarantee that chromium-contaminated dust is not released during construction into neighborhoods around the site.

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