|Posted by Anne Siren on September 28, 2012 at 2:05 PM|
But city says it’s all legal
Pompano Beach – When residents on NW 21 Ct. woke up Monday, they saw four 25-foot tanks within 50 feet of their homes.
The tanks were lined up in back of Walmart on Copans Road. Large valves and hoses connected the tanks.
On Tuesday, residents met with Walmart representatives, Mayor Lamar Fisher, an engineer from Kimley-Horn and other city officials to get some answers.
Lucas Anthony from Kimley-Horn explained that the work and the equipment were staged for drainage improvements to the Walmart Shopping Center. He said oil and fuel leaks from cars in the parking lot combined with automobiles from Mercedes-Benz and Champion Motors dealerships have impacted the water quality for years.
Flooding has been an issue on the property since its construction in the late 80s. During Hurricane Irene, several cars were flooded, and pools of water after a rain are common.
The tanks, on lease from Carbonair, are charcoal filtering mechanisms positioned to clean polluted ground water from the run-off.
In preparation for the project, which will be completed early next year, two ponds behind Walmart have been drained, deepened and expanded as retention ponds for a new drainage system.
This community has a few more months of living with a rock-pit and a charcoal filtering system.
But everything is legal and permitted according to city hall.
That wasn’t good enough for Robert Holmes, president of the Sanders Park Homeowners Association.
“[Walmart] had a moral obligation to advise us of this project,” said Holmes.
Attorney Susan Motley, on behalf of Walmart, said the residents had been notified. But when the addresses were reviewed, those who had received the 12 letters lived at least one-quarter mile east of the project. No one on the abutting street received notification.
“Walmart did what they wanted to do without respect to the neighborhood,” said Holmes.
Residents here have already experienced one shock. They found that dozens of sea grape trees that had served as noise and vision barriers to Walmart and I-95 had been removed.
Congeniality would not describe Monday’s meeting.
Said The Rev. Marguerite Luster, spokesperson for the Liberty Park Homeowners Association, “We had birds, butterflies and plants. Now we have erosion.”
Luster wants the sea grape trees back in place. That won’t happen soon. Although a landscape plan for the completed project includes trees, sea grapes were not on the list. Oaks and Sabal Palms were recommended, but Mayor Lamar Fisher suggested the tree plan could be redrawn.
Ed Phillips, former city commissioner, was more concerned about the proposed 20-foot deep retention pond that could be a danger to young children living in the neighborhood.
On Wednesday, four young boys with fishing poles had already hopped the fence. To their dismay, they were quickly spotted by Commissioner Woody Poitier who had been on location with Luster.
One city official said there is no requirement for fencing the lake. In fact, he said, the lake is the buffer zone between Walmart and the community.
Walmart, unlike more recent commercial projects, is not required to adhere to a city code that requires a strict buffer zone between the residential community and the commercial entity because Walmart was approved prior to the 1990 passage of a buffer code.
Today, the code requires a 10-foot high “wall or opaque fence” with landscaping on both sides.
Frustrated by a future of visual blight, noise pollution and possible erosion, Luster said she would continue her fight. “This problem is bigger than us,” she said.