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State

ECC to receive $625k in lawsuit settlement

Contractor used protected wetland for parking lot

GENEVA – A St. Charles engineering company has agreed to pay Elgin Community College $625,000 to settle a lawsuit that involves the destruction of wetlands on college property.

According to a Nov. 5 settlement agreement disclosed through a Freedom of Information Act request, Willis Burke Kelsey Associates of St. Charles agreed to pay the community college to release all claims connected with a 2015 lawsuit the college filed against it and Phoenix Environmental and Associates Inc. of Gilberts.

The college predominantly has students from other counties, but has some students from DeKalb County.

It sued the companies – and they counter sued – after the college was cited for illegally filling in a federally-protected wetland in 2010 to expand a parking lot at its Elgin campus. The parking lot was part of the college’s expansion projects after a successful $178 million referendum in 2009.

The Army Corps of Engineers issued a citation against ECC on June 7, 2012, for filling in two-tenths of an acre of wetland in the Tyler Creek watershed with dredged construction material, in violation of the Clean Water Act without a permit, records show.

Because a corps permit previously had been issued to the college in 1992 and in 2009 – meaning the location of wetlands on the site already was known to officials – the violation was “considered knowing, willing and flagrant,” the citation letter stated.

The college filed suit Dec. 29 2015, against Willis Burke Kelsey to recover $1.2 million for new wetland mitigation costs and more than $800,000 in legal fees, for not noting the wetland’s existence. The college also sued Phoenix, seeking to recover the $79,650 it paid for wetland credits that were inadequate.

The settlement agreement states that all sides make no admission of wrongdoing, deny any liability for damages claimed, agree not to disparage the other parties publicly.

A final court date of Dec. 14 will close the case once the college receives payment.

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