Press Release

Press Release Rowley Property Owner Settles Claims of Illegally Altering and Filling Protected Wetlands on His Property

For immediate release:
11/19/2019
  • Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
  • Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

Media Contact for Rowley Property Owner Settles Claims of Illegally Altering and Filling Protected Wetlands on His Property

Chloe Gotsis

BOSTON A Rowley property owner has agreed to restore the protected wetland resource areas he damaged by allegedly filling them with cut trees, stumps, and debris as well as widening and raising a roadway, all in violation of state law, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.

The consent judgment, entered in Suffolk Superior Court, settles a 2017 lawsuit alleging that 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.

“Wetlands are vital natural resources for our state that provide us with clean drinking water, prevent flooding and storm damage, and support wildlife,” AG Healey said. “We’re pleased that this resolution ensures that this defendant will restore all of the wetland resources he altered.”

“We take violations of the Wetlands Protection Act very seriously, especially in a case like this, where numerous wetlands and a brook were negatively impacted,” said Commissioner Martin Suuberg of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). “We are pleased that the results of this case will be the restoration of this ecosystem and the continued protection of these natural resources.”

According to the complaint, Blair illegally altered and filled approximately three-quarters of an acre of protected wetlands by widening and raising a roadway, clear-cutting trees and vegetation, constructing a stable and paddock, and stockpiling cut trees, tree stumps, debris, and fill in wetland resource areas on the property without obtaining required permits, in violation of the state Wetlands Protection Act and its regulations. The AG’s Office also alleges that the alteration of the roadway impacted the flow of water in Muddy Brook, a perennial stream over which the road crosses.  

Under the terms of the consent judgment, Blair will restore the wetlands on his property by removing all fill material, grading them to appropriate elevations, and revegetating them with appropriate plant species. Blair is also required to repair the culvert in the roadway, which will restore the surrounding wetlands and floodplain impacted by Blair’s alteration of the road.

The settlement requires Blair to retain a qualified wetlands professional to perform and oversee the restoration work. If the defendant fails to comply with the terms of the settlement, he is required to pay the state a $10,000 penalty.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Jillian Riley and Deputy Division Chief Betsy Harper, both of AG Healey’s Environmental Protection Division, with assistance from Heidi Zisch, Chief Regional Counsel in MassDEP’s Office of General Counsel, and Rachel Freed, Deputy Regional Director of MassDEP’s Bureau of  Water Resources, and Wayne Lozzi of MassDEP’s Wetlands Program, all in the Northeast Regional Office of MassDEP.

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Media Contact for Rowley Property Owner Settles Claims of Illegally Altering and Filling Protected Wetlands on His Property

Office of Attorney General Maura Healey 

Attorney General Maura Healey is the chief lawyer and law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection 

MassDEP ensures clean air, land and water. We oversee the safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes. We ensure the timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills. And we work to preserve the state's wetlands and coastal resources.
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