A Chatham property owner has reached a monetary settlement in Suffolk Superior Court after allegedly destroying coastal wetlands. According to release from Attorney General Maura Healey's Office, David C. Rogers is alleged to have driven a track-driven loader down a narrow foot path to the beach on Stage Harbor at low tide. A consent judgment requires that Rogers pay a $140,000 civil penalty for allegedly violating the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act, the Public Waterfront Act and the Clean Waters Act.
The complaint filed Wednesday in Suffolk Superior Court with the consent judgment, alleges that Rogers used the track loader to dig up 2,000 square feet of salt marsh on the shore. The digging, which damaged coastal resources, also damaged areas on three adjacent lots. In the complaint, the AG's Office alleged that Rogers abandoned the 9,000 pound track loader when it became stuck in the mud. "The property owner had received three separate approvals for work on this property and knew the requirements needed to protect the natural resources there," said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. "Despite that knowledge, he still used equipment that badly damaged the salt marsh, tidal flats and shellfish that inhabited the area."
Rogers had obtained permits from the Town of Chatham to demolish a large home on his 2.47-acre Sears Point Road property and replace it with a new home, a boathouse and a swimming pool, the release said. Rogers purchased the property at 36 Sears Point Road in 2011 for $6,000,000, according to Chatham Assessors records. In 2014, the property was valued at $4,066,900, according to the records.
In addition to the damage done to the tidal flats, the partially submerged loader left a small sheen on the water prompting the Chatham shellfish constable to close the area to shellfishing for a month. Testing later showed there was no contamination.
In addition to the $140,000 civil penalty, the settlement requires Rogers to fund a yet-to-be-identified $39,000 coastal wetlands project in Chatham. "The Town is very pleased that the matter has been settled and looks forward to the restoration of the coastal environment," said Chatham Town Manager Jill Goldsmith.
As reportedly outlined in the settlement, Rogers will pay up to $220,000 to restore the salt marsh, dune and coastal bank areas he damaged, the release said. If the restoration is completed to the satisfaction of MassDEP, the Commonwealth will knock $50,000 off the $140,000 penalty, the AG's Office said.
"Our shared coastal areas provide important environmental resources and must be safeguarded," Attorney General Maura Healey said.