Rep. Rosita Youngblood’s letter to the DEP

April 26, 2011

Joseph Fiola Regional Director Southeast Regional Office Pa. Department of Environmental Protection 2 E. Main Street Norristown, PA 19401-4915

Dear Mr. Fiola:

Over the past few months, I have been in contact with officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection regarding significant environmental concerns that I have with current plans to develop a discount retail shopping center in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, located in my legislative district. My concerns stem from the sudden and dramatic change in plans to develop this site, located at Chelten and Pulaski avenues, and the myriad of questions relating to the safety for both the environment and the residents of this community with this new development plan.

As you may know, the development company vacated its original plan to renovate an existing building at a site on Chelten Avenue and establish a fresh food grocery store. Instead, the developers have outlined new plans, and have already started construction, to build a far less attractive and inappropriate discount retail complex, including Sav-A-Lot and Dollar Tree stores. This new plan is far more expansive than the original project, and requires significant construction on a site that has a history of contamination and degradation.

In correspondence from your agency, it has been brought to my attention that the development company has not followed through with the monitoring and quarterly reporting for this development site that was requested by the agency. Although the land being developed was the site of a major gas leak in 1990, your agency said there was no need to excavate soils or install any kind of a remediation system. However, the development company agreed to monitor groundwater and submit reports on a quarterly basis for two years. It is my understanding that they have failed to comply with that request.

In addition, since the development company did not comply with the original remedial action plan in 2008, it is my understanding that your agency sent a notice of violation to the company. It is also my understanding that your agency still expects the development company to demonstrate that groundwater is not contaminated. I have not received any additional information as to the progress of this compliance with the DEP’s requests for updated groundwater data. Recently, the state DEP gave the development company a deadline of April 18, 2011 to submit plans and additional information regarding the environmental suitability of this site, and those requests were also ignored.

As you can see, I have significant concerns regarding the environmental safety of this new development, especially since there is a history of contamination at the site that resulted from a gas station that once operated outside the facility. The residents of this community deserve to be protected from potential dangers associated with this new construction and development plan.

Given all of these questions and concerns, I urge the state DEP to carry out all enforcement and regulatory options at its disposal to protect the residents of Germantown. It is my strong belief that all construction should be stopped until all questions and concerns have been answered, and the development company has complied with your requests.

Thank you for your consideration of this request. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

ROSITA C. YOUNGBLOOD Democratic Chairwoman Gaming Oversight Committee 198th District

Cc: Michael Krancer, Secretary, Department of Environmental Protection

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.