Couple ordered to restore wetlands

Nick Rees Feb. 24, 2010, 5:25pm


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has obtained a judgment that orders a Lexington couple to restore wetlands and pay $100,000 in penalties.

The judgment also requires John and Diane Sellars, who were determined in a June 24 ruling to be liable under the Wetlands Protection Act for the destruction of wetlands, to escrow $90,000 toward the performance of the restoration.

The Wetlands Protection Act was designed to prevent damage to the commonwealth's wetlands, which provide pollution prevention, flood control, storm damage prevention, wildlife habitat protection and shellfish and fisheries protection.

The court stated in its decision that its most important consideration and priority was fashioning a remedy that restored the wetlands.

"Wetlands are a vital environmental resource and we take seriously the Commonwealth's responsibility to safeguard them for the public interest," Coakley said.

"We are pleased the ruling requires the defendants to repair the harm caused by the destruction of the wetlands on the Sellars' property. We hope the court's decision sends a message to the public that those who violate wetlands laws will be held accountable."

According to the June 24 ruling, the Sellars have been liable for destroying wetlands at 430 Concord Ave. in Lexington as well as on adjacent public conservation land since at least the early 1990s. The couple as also found liable for violations of the Solid Waste Management Act.

John and Diane Sellars, the court's decision says, altered, graded and filled wetlands with concrete rubble, trees and other materials despite repeated Lexington conservation commission and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection orders to restore the wetlands.

Additionally, the Sellars have been receiving deliveries without authorization under the Solid Waste Management Act of parking lot sweepings, construction rubble and other materials at their Lexington property to be used as fill in their loam-making businesses.

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