Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Premium Outlet parking lot still not fixed

Water sheets off Premium Outlet's failed stormwater system and parking lot on the Scott's Pond side after a recent downpour. (Rusty Carter / June 3, 2013)
Seven months after failure, nothing done

By Cortney Langley, The Virginia Gazette 5:55 p.m. EDT, June 14, 2013

JAMES CITY – More than six months after they collapsed during Hurricane Sandy, the parking lot and stormwater facilities at Premium Outlets have still not been fixed.

County Engineering and Resource Protection staff noted signs of failure in Premium Outlet's stormwater system as early as 2010, Director Scott Thomas said last fall after Sandy hit.

Premium has two systems: A traditional stormwater system and an underground cistern beneath previous pavers. Officials believed a problem with the traditional system was leading Premium to reroute and pump unfiltered stormwater from that system into the previous paver system.

Debris from the unfiltered water seemed to have clogged the pavers, and the system began to buckle, caving in some spots.

Last year, Premium Outlets, as Williamsburg Mazell LLC, filed suit against both stormwater system designer Landmark, now owned by Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, and builder Henderson Inc., alleging breach of contract. The suit seeks $5 million from each, claiming Landmark improperly designed the system and Henderson improperly built it, and that neither have tried to fix it.

Henderson filed a cross-claim, blaming Landmark's design. The suit notes that Henderson had to put up a bond to ensure the system worked properly and that the county has withheld the bond while Henderson pays annual premiums for it, according to the suit. County Attorney Adam Kinsman recently confirmed that the county continues to hold the $2 million stormwater bond as assurance.

Although the suits were filed in Williamsburg-James City Couny Circuit Court, initially none of the three companies pressed the issue. In the year since it was filed, the suits were served, keeping it active at the courthouse, but no court dates have been set.

"There are no hearings or other proceedings scheduled as the parties continue to work together coooperatively to design and implement a solution to the problem," said Henderson attorney Sheldon Franck in an emailed response.

The county continues to monitor the situation, Kinsman said. As part of the 2007 agreement for Premium's expansion, the outlet mall offered $200,000 toward stream restoration in neighboring Scott's Pond to fix damage from years of uncontrolled runoff.

The failure of the Premium's system has since washed debris, silt and other material into that restoration project, county officials said last year. They expected that it will require clean-up but not another complete restoration.

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