NEWTOWN, Ohio — Less than three months after Evans Landscaping owner Doug Evans signed a $550,000 settlement for environmental violations spanning more than two decades, health officials say he violated a court order.
Hamilton County health officials issued a notice of violation to Evans on Dec. 16, more than a month after crews dug test pits at his facility on Broadwell Road in Anderson Township to determine the extent of buried waste.
As part of the settlement, Evans agreed to containerize excavated construction waste and dispose of it properly. But he allegedly left piles of waste exposed for weeks, according to the violation.
If Evans is found to have violated his agreement with the state, a judge could force him to pay $300 to $1,000 a day until the violations are resolved, according to a consent order signed by a Hamilton County judge on Sept. 29.
“If you violate a court order, you can be jailed for contempt,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said in an interview in October. “We will be the eagle eyes of Mr. Evans. I assure you that if we find that he is not following the agreement exactly, we will go back before this judge and say, “Judge, hold him accountable.”
In an interview with WCPO on Dec. 14, Yost said, “We’re watching and we’re going to hold him accountable.”
Health officials estimate that 6,000 to 10,000 cubic yards of illegal waste could be buried in a five-acre portion of the site at 8361 Broadwell Road. That means a full-size pickup truck, which normally holds 2.5 cubic yards, would have to made up to 4,000 trips to haul away the waste.
Yost sued Evans last March at the request of Hamilton County and the Ohio EPA. County records show inspectors cited “recurring problems” such as the burial of waste, open dumping, scrap tires, illegal dumping of construction and demolition debris and leachate draining, sometimes into the Little Miami River at three separate locations.
Evans, 60, is a well-known east side entrepreneur who built a landscaping empire from a high school job hauling mulch out of a pickup truck. It now employs 250 people in operations that range from sand and gravel, equipment rental, snow removal, soil and firewood, ready-mixed concrete, tree services and stonework.
“I don’t want to put people out of business if I don’t have to.” If we can get them to abide by the law, clean up this mess, stand up and play fair with the rest of the community, then … everybody’s better off,” Yost said. “But make no mistake, we’re done with the games. And if the long arm of the law has to fall more heavily on this man – it will.”
The part of Evans’ business that health inspectors have repeatedly targeted is the recycling of construction and demolition waste.
Although Evans agreed to clean up the construction debris and debris, he still maintains he did not break the law, according to the consent order.
An Evans spokesman did not return several requests for comment, but in a statement to WCPO in October, he said, “Evans Landscaping has taken or will take the necessary corrective actions to address the alleged violations in accordance with the consent order.”
The consent order sets out a very specific schedule for the cleanup:
At the facility at 8361 Broadwell Road, crews used an excavator to dig 16 test pits at least 25 feet deep or until native soil or water was reached. Ohio Department of Health and EPA officials monitored the digging on November 9 and 10. Of 16 test pits, they found 14 contained waste.
Health officials then made return visits to see if the waste had been removed.
“All excavated waste material from the 16 test pits was observed to be on the ground and had not yet been containerized or removed from the property. Mr. Evans verbally confirmed that no waste material had been removed from the property and operators were separating large objects (rocks, scrap, metal, stumps, etc.) from the excavated waste material,” health officials wrote on November 14.
When officials returned on November 23, “it was observed that some of the excavated waste material had been removed,” taken to the Newtown Fill and labeled as “dirt” instead of construction and demolition debris. “No gratuity charges were collected for the loads. The receiving facility was advised to make the necessary correction and categorize these loads as (construction and demolition debris) and include these loads in the unloading fee calculations,” according to the violation notice.
When health officials returned on Dec. 6 and Dec. 16, large piles of the remaining waste had not yet been placed in containers or removed, according to the violation notice.
It’s the latest in a series of legal troubles for Evans.
Evans was released from prison last December after serving six months for fraud on a minority, followed by several months of house arrest.
Last month, a Clermont County judge and Union Township zoning officials charged Evans with illegally operating businesses on land on Mount Carmel Road that is zoned for open space and agriculture.
In 2014, Evans agreed to pay a $300,000 fine to settle a complaint with the Ohio EPA over air pollution violations. It also agreed to a $100,000 tree planting project to serve as a natural windbreak for dust and emissions from its stone, gravel and sand operations in Hamilton and Clermont counties.