Chapel Hill taxpayers will shell out $170,000 after groundwater near the 140 West development was contaminated during construction.
The town negotiated a settlement with Ram, the developer for 140 West, that said the town will contribute the $170,000 to cover part of the clean-up cost.
The Chapel Hill Town Council voted on the settlement during a closed session in November. The vote was 6-2 in favor of the settlement, with council members Lee Storrow and Matt Czajkowski voting against the proposed settlement.
The $55 million mixed-use development opened in April with condominiums and retail space.
In 2011, contaminants seeped into water in an excavation pit at the construction site. Ram was required to pump the contaminated water into tanker trucks, treat it and dispose of it, according to a memo sent to the Town Council last month.
The contaminants included petroleum substances, solvents and other hazardous materials.
The cost of removal and disposal, according to the memo and Ram invoices, was $316,681. Another $93,600 is needed to finance testing and treatment for an additional three years.
In the memo, Town Attorney Ralph Karpinos, said the settlement was the best option.
“There are factual issues in dispute regarding the source of some portion of the contamination,” he said in the memo. “Both parties have acknowledged that there would be considerable cost and expense associated with litigating these disputes.”
Ram and the Town Council came to the settlement to avoid having to pursue legal action.
Both parties disagreed about who was responsible for the expenses related to the groundwater contamination. The developer sought full reimbursement from the town based on a 2007 Development Agreement between Ram and Chapel Hill that said the town had full financial responsibility for any contamination.
But the town later asked Ram to assume financial responsibility because the contaminants first appeared after the developer began work on the property.
Shari Meltzer, a spokeswoman for Ram, said the settlement was a compromise.
“Ram has been in this venture with the town since 2007 and, as with all settlements, each side had to give a little,” she said in an email.
The settlement included changing the Development Agreement to release the town from future obligations and liability with the contaminated groundwater.
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