Rowley Property Owner Sued for Allegedly Destroying Protected Wetlands
BOSTON – A Rowley property owner has been sued after he allegedly altered and filled protected wetlands in violation of state law, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
In a complaint, filed Thursday in Suffolk Superior Court, the AG’s Office alleges that beginning in 2013, Sean Blair destroyed at least six different types of protected wetlands located on Haverhill Street in Rowley, where he resides and operates a construction, excavation and septic installation business. The AG’s Office alleges that Blair illegally cleared trees and other vegetation and stockpiled debris on approximately three-quarters of an acre of protected wetlands while widening a roadway and constructing a stable and paddock on his property without obtaining required permits, in violation of the Wetlands Protection Act and its regulations.
“Wetlands are a vital resource for our state and help provide us with clean drinking water supplies, prevent flooding and storm damage, and support wildlife,” said AG Healey. “Those who illegally destroy these valuable resources will be held accountable.”
“Protection of wetlands resources is critical to ensuring a healthy ecosystem,” said Commissioner Martin Suuberg of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). “MassDEP will aggressively pursue individuals who illegally fill wetlands, particularly those who fail to comply with their obligations under a MassDEP enforcement order.”
The complaint alleges Blair failed to comply with a 2014 administrative consent order from MassDEP requiring him to pay penalties to the state for violating the Wetlands Protection Act and requiring him to fully restore the protected wetlands. Blair allegedly failed to pay the full penalty and has continued to make unapproved alterations to wetlands at the property in violation of the consent order.
Since 2008, Blair has owned a 13.6-acre parcel of land on the property where the violations allegedly occurred. The parcel he owns has a residential home, storage sheds, a riding arena, and a paddock area. The property contains multiple wetland areas protected by the Wetlands Protection Act and its regulations including riverfront areas, land under waterbodies and waterways, banks, and bordering vegetated wetlands.
In the complaint, the AG’s Office is seeking civil penalties and a permanent injunction requiring Blair to restore and remediate the damaged wetlands on the property.
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Jillian Riley of Attorney General Healey’s Environmental Protection Division, with the assistance of MassDEP attorney Heidi Zisch of the Office of General Counsel, Deputy Regional Director Rachel Freed and Environmental Engineer Wayne Lozzi of MassDEP’s Bureau of Water Resources.