The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has levied a heavy fine against an Edgartown contractor who did the work on a Mink Meadows project last year that violated state and local wetlands laws.
In an administrative consent order issued June 29, Steve Handy of Handy Trucking and Bobcat Service was fined $11,000 by the DEP for the unpermitted dredging and filling work. Mr. Handy was ordered by the DEP to pay $4,500; the balance of the $11,000 fine will be suspended for three years as long as there are no further violations.
Mr. Handy could not be reached for comment yesterday. He signed the consent order on June 21.
He was hired by Mary Howell, of Arlington, Va., and Vineyard Haven in the winter of 2011 to dredge some 11,600 square feet and fill 1,235 feet of wetlands at the Mink Meadows Pond near the Howell property. No permits were obtained from the state or the Tisbury conservation commission for the work. Conservation commission members called the project the worst wetlands violations they have seen in decades.
Ms. Howell has already been fined by the DEP and issued a detailed order for wetland restoration work from the Tisbury conservation commission.
The conservation commission issued a cease and desist order to Ms. Howell in February of 2011, following a site visit by town conservation agent Jane Varkonda, where the violations were observed. In a letter sent to Ms. Howell on Feb. 22, the commission emphasized Mr. Handy’s role in the wetland violations.
“Prior to commencing a project of that nature, the person performing the work has to have a permit issued by this office for the project in hand and on the job site at all times,” the letter read. “A dredging project would never be permitted to commence without a meeting on site with the commission’s agent to review staging and transport routes.”
In May of this year the conservation commission voted to order Ms. Howell to restore, refill and replant the wetlands. The board also voted to require her to put $70,800 in an escrow fund as a guarantee against completing the work. The commission will continue to monitor the site for two years following the required wetland restoration. The DEP fined Ms. Howell $11,650, with half the amount to be paid and half suspended providing she complies with the order from the town conservation commission.
In May the state had not decided yet whether to fine Mr. Handy, the contractor.
“The problem here was that she [Ms. Howell] and her contractor did this work without any kind of local or state approval,” DEP spokesman Ed Colletta told the Gazette at the time. “Wetlands are very important areas. They’re a very important habitat for various species including endangered species, they’re also very important areas for storm runoff and they help with flood management. They’re just a very important resource area that needs to be protected.”