CHELSEA — The town won’t have to pay a $17,000 fine for draining a significant wetland in 2009 now that the state Department of Environmental Protection has decided the restoration work was sufficient.

The DEP levied the requirement to pay $17,301 into an in-lieu fee compensation program against Chelsea in 2009 because its contractor, Marshall Swan, drained a 4,500-square-foot wetland of “special significance” and damaged 18,700 square feet of waterfowl and wading bird habitat. The environmental damages occurred when Swan did a 2009 culvert project on Windsor Road.

“This has been hanging over the town’s head,” Town Manager Scott Tilton said of the fine.

The DEP also ruled that Swan, husband of former selectwoman Carole Swan, did the work without the proper state permits. Marshall Swan earned $66,600 for the work done to prevent the road from flooding without having to enter a bid.

The restoration work was completed last summer, according to Tilton. Department staff members visited the site in July and found that the wetland and bird habitat had been repaired adequately.

The town paid Harold Warren Construction $14,780 for the restoration work, which entailed repairing a berm and installing a culvert under Gabradak Lane to connect two freshwater wetlands. A berm is a raised piece of land that serves as a barrier to contain water in the wetland.

DEP spokeswoman Samantha Depoy-Warren said it’s typical to waive fines for such situations if the restoration work is done in a timely and appropriate manner.

“We’d rather have the investment be made in the repair or enhancement of the resource,” she said.

The fine imposed on Chelsea was to offset the loss of wetland function and value. It would have come in the form of a contribution to the Maine Natural Resources Conservation Program, which uses the funds to restore, enhance, preserve or create natural resources in the state. Meanwhile, the Swans are facing fraud charges at a trial set to begin July 8. Carole Swan, 54, was indicted a year ago by a federal grand jury on a number of charges, including three counts of extortion.

Swan also is accused of making false statements to obtain federal worker’s compensation from 2008 through May 2011 by failing to disclose “her ownership interest and her active participation in the operation of Marshall Swan Construction and a harness horse racing business,” and underreporting her hours worked as a Chelsea selectwoman.

The Swans also jointly face allegations that they cheated on their federal taxes for the calendar years 2006 through 2010 by failing to report a total of more than $676,000 in additional income.

Paul Koenig 621-5663
[email protected]