- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG's Office Stops Illegal Work at Rockport Seawall
Boston — A developer and his company have been permanently ordered to stop illegally filling and altering protected wetland resource areas and tidelands at their property on Pigeon Cove Harbor in Rockport, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
The defendants, Michael Rauseo and his company, the Landing Group, Inc., have also been ordered to pay $10,000 in civil penalties and to bring the property into compliance with state laws by removing all illegal material.
Essex Superior Court Judge Thomas Drechsler’s order resolves a September 2018 lawsuit the AG’s Office filed against Rauseo and his company, by finding that Rauseo altered wetlands and tidelands when he installed rebar in and poured concrete on a granite seawall to raise its height. Judge Drechsler’s ruling permanently prohibits Rauseo from illegally working in wetlands and tidelands on his Rockport property, which is consistent with the preliminary injunction issued by the court in September 2018.
In his ruling, Judge Drechsler agreed with the AG’s Office that Rauseo’s actions violated the state’s Wetlands Protection Act and Waterways Act as well as multiple orders from the Town of Rockport and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to cease the illegal work at the property.
“This defendant ignored several state and local orders to stop his illegal actions and important laws that protect our environment,” AG Healey said. “This order requires Mr. Rauseo to restore the wetlands and tidelands he altered in Pigeon Cove Harbor – a vital natural resource for the people of Rockport and the whole state.”
Rauseo knowingly performed the illegal work on the seawall at the Rockport property without receiving permit approvals and continued to do so after receiving five orders and notices from the Town of Rockport and MassDEP ordering him to stop the work. Rauseo also continued to illegally fill the wetlands and tidelands in spite of ongoing litigation with both MassDEP and the Town over his use of tidelands at the site
“Failure to operate according to laws that protect wetland and coastal resources infringed upon the public’s right to a healthy and vibrant waterfront,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “We are pleased that the court has recognized the seriousness of this matter, and this decision makes clear that this type of conduct will not be tolerated.”
“Pigeon Cove Harbor is a precious, unique and irreplaceable resource for commercial fisheries, artists, and all who benefit from the access and shelter it provides,” said State Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr. “Time and again the community has proven its commitment to protecting this special place and we all must work together to continue with the stewardship it deserves.”
"The Town is pleased that the Court's ruling is supportive of DEP in this matter,” said Rockport Town Administrator Mitchell R. Vieira. “We are appreciative of the work of DEP and the Attorney General's Office on this case."
This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Louis Dundin of AG Healey’s Environmental Protection Division with assistance from Environmental Analyst Jill Provencal, Deputy Regional Director Rachel Freed, and Regional Director Eric Worrall of MassDEP’s Northeast Regional Office, Ben Lynch, former Director of MassDEP’s Waterways Program, and Heidi Zisch, Jennifer Davis, Betsy Kimball, and Sam Bennett of MassDEP’s Office of General Counsel.