Excavation equipment, trucks and workers at the site of a recently cleared hillside on Hogan Road following reports that work had stopped due to lack of a grading permit prompted a flurry of calls to The Missourian.
Chad Neal, Orchid Development Company, Sullivan, has been clearing two adjoining parcels at the site that is visible throughout the western part of the city.
The contractor performed the work without receiving a grading permit from the city.
The eastern portion of the work is the site of the proposed 25-acre Dogwood Plaza, which will house a Best Western Hotel, one national chain restaurant, two additional restaurants and space for retail stores.
The western portion of the area is a 55-acre parcel owned by Bud Lamar.
Neal said he’s under contract from Lamar to harvest trees at the site, but residents say even removing trees on a large parcel requires a grading permit.
Speaking at the Dec. 19 board meeting, Neal said he had a DNR permit for grading and did not realize he needed a city grading permit as well. He said he would cease grading until he completed the application process and received a permit.
Seeing continued activity on the hillside, residents continued to question the clearing, which they said denuded the hillside making it vulnerable to mudslides during heavy rains.
Public Works Commissioner Robert Brueggemann said he believes the activity people were continuing to see was the developer removing the trees and roots pushed over.
Brueggemann said the city has not issued a grading permit and the developer has been ordered not to do more earth moving until a permit was received.
“I told them they could clear what they’ve already pushed over,” he said.
Brueggemann said he has been tied up with a water line break, but would visit the site on Friday.
A state representative said DNR had issued a grading permit for 17 acres on the east end of the site. He said a DNR representative had spoken with Neal and DNR land disturbance officials were aware that grading had taken place on a much larger area.
The representative said DNR would issue a grading permit for the remainder of the ground once Neal applied for one. He also said DNR has not inspected the property, but would begin to inspect the site next week.