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Lexington man jailed for not restoring damaged wetlands

Posted by Brock Parker  May 10, 2012 02:18 PM

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A Lexington man was held in contempt of court and jailed for two days this week for failing to restore damaged wetlands on his property on Concord Avenue and neighboring conservation land.

John Sellars, 78, was ordered to jail Monday by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Elizabeth M. Fahey and he remained there until Wednesday when he agreed to allow the court-ordered work to proceed, according to state Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office.

Sellars was then released to stay with family in Florida until the work is complete, according to Coakley’s office. Neither he nor his wife, Diane Sellars, could immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

“This defendant directly violated a court order to restore wetlands, which are a vital environmental resource,” Coakley said in a press release Thursday regarding the case. “The court has given him many chances to restore these wetlands and time and again he has refused to comply. Ignoring the court’s orders is not an option as this case demonstrates.”

In February of 2010, Suffolk Superior Court ordered Sellars and his wife to place $90,000 in escrow to pay for the restoration of the wetlands they destroyed at 430 Concord Ave. and adjacent public conservation land in Lexington.

A ruling in 2009 had determined that the couple were liable under the Wetlands Protection Act for destruction of the wetlands dating back to at least the early 1990s.
The couple had altered, graded, and filled wetlands with concrete rubble, trees and other material despite repeated orders from the Lexington Conservation Commission and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to restore the wetlands, according to Coakley’s office. They also received deliveries of parking lot sweepings, construction rubble, and other materials at their property for use as fill in their loam-making business without authorization under the Solid Waste Management Act, according to the attorney general’s office.

Lexington’s Conservation Commission referred the matter to the state in September of 2006, and the attorney general’s office filed the original complaint in the case in 2007.

The Sellars were also ordered in 2010 to pay $100,000 in penalties, though $75,000 of the penalties were suspended pending completion of the restoration.

--brock.globe@gmail.com

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