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Mall loses appeal of $10,500 fine

The owner of Blue Ridge Mall lost its appeal last week of a $10,500 fine for failing to repair and reconstruct a stormwater drainage pond by a July 1 deadline.

Hendersonville Zoning Administrator Susan Frady imposed the fine on Hull Storey Gibson Companies of Augusta, Ga., after the company missed the deadline for completing a stormwater drainage pond behind the mall. The fine of $500 a day grew to $10,500 before the contractor finished the work.
The Zoning Board of Adjustment last week turned down the company's appeal of the fine. An appeal of that decision would go to Henderson County Superior Court.
Frady said she did not know whether the mall would appeal the Board of Adjustment decision. An attorney for the mall owners declined to comment last week when reached by the Hendersonville Lightning. Fines for zoning violations go not to the city but to the Henderson County school system.
The Hendersonville City Council required Hull Storey to upgrade the retention basin as a condition of a permit the city issued last fall for remodeling of the TJMaxx space. The drainage basin, which is designed to hold water from extensive rainfall to prevent downstream flooding and erosion, was neglected and overgrown and had not been functioning properly, city engineer Brent Detwiler said. Adjoining property owners also told the City Council they wanted the drainage pond fixed.
The city granted the mall owner a two-month extension to complete the stormwater pond work but construction was still unfinished as the July 1 deadline approached. The contractor needed to do more grading, debris removal, replace an outlet structure, reconstruct an emergency outflow and seeding and mulching, the city said.
An attorney for Hull Story, Wayne Grovenstein, objected to the city's demand. The mall owner had spent $30,000 clearing trees from the pond, he wrote in an email to Hendersonville city attorney Sam Fritschner, "and tens of thousands more improving a pond that is, by the requirements of the city of Hendersonville in its zoning of the Blue Ridge Villas property, a regional retention pond that should be maintained by the city." The mall had been committed to maintaining the retention pond since it was built in 1983, Detwiler said. It had subsequently made an agreement with Blue Ridge Villas to share the pond for stormwater runoff.
In an email to the mall attorney, Fritschner dismissed the attorney's assertion that the work was done.
"It is clear to me at least that a simple unsubstantiated declaration by the Mall that the project is complete will not suffice to make it so," he said. "I want to remind you in the friendliest possible way that the city was effectively begging the mall to get this project under way for months to avoid this very mess, and we found ourselves ignored at every turn."