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Developer of local project to appeal Department of Ecology fine

Posted on August 15th, 2023 By:

The Washington Department of Ecology issued a $56,000 fine to RM Homes of Puyallup over what the department called “multiple water quality violations” at a construction site on Edwards Drive in Gig Harbor. 

The department issued the fine on June 28. RM Homes owner Ryan McGowan said he has engaged a land use attorney and is appealing the fine.

“I’m an experience land developer, been doing this for 29 years and have never had a fine from the DOE,” McGowan said in an email to Gig Harbor Now. “We did everything humanly possible to control the erosion on this project — including spending over $300,000 in change orders with our contractor specifically related to added (best management practices).”

McGowan added that by comparison, he has never spent more than $50,000 for erosion control on similar previous projects.

RM Homes of Puyallup plans to build 14 luxury homes in this development off Edwards Drive in Gig Harbor.

Ecology notes 15 water quality violations

In a statement announcing the fine, Ecology said inspectors found 15 water quality violations at the site. Ecology said it issued warnings and offered technical assistance to RM Homes. 

The department alleged a failure to control sediment, stabilize soils and protect drain inlets. It also said the company did not comply with permit requirements. 

Ecology blamed soil grading errors, inadequate stormwater holding capacity, failure to consider seasonal work limitations and insufficient pollution prevention measures for the problem. 

“Stormwater runoff from construction sites can carry muddy water, debris, and chemicals into local waterways,” Ecology’s news release said. “Sediments, chemicals, and debris can harm aquatic life and reduce water quality.”

The Hillstad development

The project calls for 14 new homes on about 4.5 acres of undeveloped land on Edwards between Pioneer Way and Stinson Avenue. RM Homes, which owns the land spread over three lots, calls the development Hillstad. 

RM’s marketing materials for the gated community indicates that construction will start this fall. The first homes could be completed as soon as early 2024. 

The homes will be 2,100 to 3,000 square feet, with three or four bedrooms. RM’s website indicates listing prices for the new homes will start at $1.1 million. 

Puyallup-based RM Homes is a regional developer whose website touts luxury homes in upscale communities around the Puget Sound. Recent RM project locations include Newcastle, Lynwood, Redmond and Kenmore. 

RM’s website says McGowan has built more than 2,500 homes in the region since 1998. 

Ecology fines like that levied against RM Homes are not uncommon. The Department issued 15 such environmental penalties of $1,000 or more in just the fourth quarter of 2022.

The site of a 14-home development on Edwards Drive in Gig Harbor. The developer, RM Homes, plans to appeal a state Department of Ecology fine over alleged water quality violations. Photo by Ed Friedrich