“YOU CAN’T DIG
Robert Mondgock Story
In 1985, the Robert Mondgock family decided to build a house
in Mansfield Township, New Jersey.
But the land they chose had some drainage problems caused by the
township's poor drainage techniques. Robert Mongdock purchased
the property after the Burlington County Soil Conservation
District (BCSCD) informed him that he could construct a pond in
the back yard to control the water runoff, a widely accepted
practice in the area. In 1986, Mondgock hired an excavator and
began to dig.
Shortly thereafter, the New Jersey Department of Environmental
Protection (DEP) informed him that he needed a permit to dig
because his property was located in a flood plain, so he
dutifully applied for one. While waiting for the approval,
Mondgock contacted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers because he
"figured they should know EXACTLY what I had to do." The Corps
of Engineers approved of the pond.
Even though the Corps of Engineers and county government
officials approved of the pond, the DEP denied Mondgock's
request for a permit saying he violated regulations "promulgated
pursuant to the Flood Hazard Control Act." They ordered him to
fill in the pond and restore the property to its natural, wet
condition. Although a DEP engineer testified at a 1989
administrative hearing that the DEP often approves of man-made
ponds in flood hazard areas, the administrative law judge ruled
that Mondgock had violated the Flood Hazard Control Act.
Mondgock appealed to the Office of Administrative Law Court,
which found the Administrative Order to be "unduly punitive and
out of proportion" to his actual culpability and ordered that he
should be allowed to reapply for a pond permit.
Mondgock is still seeking a permit and each time he applies, his
application is sent back with a warning that it "will not be
inexpensive." Mondgock has spent more than $83,000 fighting the
state and has been threatened with millions of dollars in fines.
The DEP is currently demanding a "donation" of over $12,000.
Says Mondgock, "If I did have an extra $12,000 to donate, it
would certainly go for a needier cause, such as cancer research
Source: Robert Mondgock
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