For Immediate Release - July 14, 2010

Fairhaven Coastal Property Owner Reaches Settlement with AG Coakley to Resolve Allegations The He Violated Wetlands Protections Act

BOSTON - The owner of coastal property and an island in Fairhaven will restore wetlands on both the mainland and island parcels that were damaged by clear-cutting and wall construction projects conducted in violation of state laws designed to protect natural resources, Attorney General Martha Coakley and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) announced today.

Carlos A. Pereira will restore the wetlands and pay a $38,000 civil penalty, $18,000 of which will be waived if he complies with the terms of the consent judgment entered yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court. Under the terms of the settlement, Pereira will also make a $2,000 contribution to the Coalition for Buzzards Bay, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the Buzzards Bay watershed.

"Wetlands are vital to the protection of marine fisheries and the prevention of water pollution. Healthy, functioning coastal wetlands help sustain, preserve, and protect natural resources such as marine fisheries that are critical to the economies of Massachusetts' coastal communities," said AG Coakley. "We hope that this case will make coastal property owners think twice before they alter wetlands without required authorizations, and encourage landlords to institute measures to ensure their tenants' compliance with the Wetlands Protection Act."

"Property owners and their tenants cannot ignore long-standing environmental standards meant to protect and preserve our precious coastal resources and preserve the public's rights of access to the water," said MassDEP Commissioner Laurie Burt.

The lawsuit alleged that Pereira violated the Wetlands Protection Act in 2005 and 2006 on the mainland portion of the property when the salt marsh was altered and a stone wall was reconstructed. According to the complaint, Pereira also violated the act when vegetation on the island was clear-cut and stonewalls were constructed on the island's banks without required approvals. The lawsuit also alleged that an existing jetty on the property was enlarged without required approvals from MassDEP. The jetty and its expansion violated the Public Waterfront Act because the structure was unlicensed and constituted a public nuisance.

Pereira contends that the work was done without his knowledge by his tenant at the property.

Assistant Attorney General Seth Schofield of Attorney General Coakley's Environmental Protection Division represented the Commonwealth in this case with assistance from Nancy Ward and Monique Cascarano, investigators in Attorney General Coakley's Civil Investigations Division; Liz Kouloheras, Mitch Ziencina, Jonathan Hobill of MassDEP's Southeastern Regional Office; Jim Sprague of MassDEP's Boston Office; and Shaun Walsh of MassDEP's Office of General Counsel.