We are learning more about the stormwater issues between the Seminole Square Shopping Center and the Shops at Stonefield development. It seems the companies that manage and own Seminole Square may have changed their stance on stormwater regulations, now that they are on the other side of the issue.
Great Eastern Management, the company that manages Seminole Square, has been pushing local lawmakers to crack down on the developers of the Shops at Stonefield for what they say are stormwater permit violations that could leave Seminole Square properties flooded.
This past Monday Charlottesville City Council agreed with the city planning commission's decision last week that those regulations should be upheld. But it turns out, years ago, Seminole Square managers were arguing for less regulation when it comes to stormwater.
5th District Congressional Democratic Committee Chairman Fred Hudson said, "They were all for changing the regulations to make them so they were easier to comply with. Now when it comes to the stormwater, and the fact that it may impair them a little bit, they don't want to do that and they want the city and the county to enforce those things."
In a 2009 hearing for the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board, Charles Rotgin, the head of Great Eastern Management Company, spoke out against a proposed increase in stormwater regulations.
In a public transcript of his statement to the board, he says it would "create very difficult barriers for new and renovated public infrastructure" and cause "higher costs and even more permitting challenges."
Hudson said, "Now that's a little bit of a double standard, at least, and it could be considered a bit hypocritical under most circumstances."
Letters between Rotgin and the county obtained by NBC29 show they wanted to keep their stance on the Stonefield issue quiet.
Rotgin writes, "It continues to be our highest priority to see this issue resolved while it is still under the radar screen."
However, Fred Payne, the lawyer representing Sequel Investors, the company that owns Seminole Square, says their past stance on stormwater is no longer an issue.
"This has nothing to do with politics. This is a matter of enforcing property rights and positive law to prevent damage to people's property," he stated.
Payne goes on to say that, he does think that overall the county regulations are unnecessarily stringent and make development expensive, but he believes that has nothing to do with this case.
He says the most important thing now is to protect his clients and make sure stormwater from the Shops at Stonefield does not create a flood of problems for Seminole Square businesses.
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