CHELSEA — The state plans to issue the town a permit to restore a Windsor Road wetland without permission from an abutter.

The state Department of Environmental Protection sanctioned the town after a town contractor, Marshall Swan, drained a wetland on Windsor Road without state permits in December 2009.

The project was intended to stop the road from flooding. But the state said it drained a protected area, and some of the work took place outside the town’s right of way, on private land abutting the state right-of-way. In order to restore the wetland, the state wants the town to reinstall culverts on state and private property.

Eric Ham, project manager for DEP, said the state had returned the town’s Natural Resource Protection Act permit application in November 2010 because it didn’t demonstrate “proper title right or interest” to install the culvert on private land. In order to issue a permit, the state needed written permission from the abutting property owner.

Mike Mullen, a DEP licensing and compliance manager, said this week that instead of waiting for that documentation, the state would issue the permit with a special condition stating the town must submit a separate “permit-by-rule notification” before a culvert could be installed under the abutter’s driveway.

“Instead of us taking a long time to deal with the permit, we decided to proceed with a permit for the work that has been done,” Mullen said. “But when they do get their title right or interest signed, then they can apply for this other permit and go ahead and install the culvert.”

He said the town stabilized the area and did some ditch work but still has to restore a berm and install the culvert. A hole in a berm has to be plugged and the culvert under a driveway replaced.

“There’s nothing that can be done right now until we get into construction season, and those two things will have to happen a little bit later,” Mullen said.

Joyce Pringle, who lives on Gabradak Lane off Windsor Road, said her daughter is the property owner who has to sign off.

“My daughter was supposed to go to the Town Office and sign that, but she had surgery and didn’t get over there in time,” Pringle said.

Pringle said Swan removed part of the culvert under the driveway when he worked on the road and her husband took out what was left.

She said her daughter plans to give the town permission to replace the culvert — but that the family isn’t in favor of it.

“This works better the way it is, but they’re telling us we have to do it,” Pringle said. “The beavers always plug it up and everything floods. My husband would take a big stick and ram it through (the culvert) then the beavers would come back the next day and plug it up again.”

Jim Coffin of E.S. Coffin Engineering & Surveying Inc., hired by the town to design a restoration plan, said he gave the necessary paperwork that had to be signed to Selectman Michael Pushard.

“But with everything that’s been going on, we still haven’t received (written permission) yet,” Coffin said. “DEP wanted leverage to make sure that pipe got in. They’re afraid if we do the work to dam up the berm and not do the culvert, everything would flood. They wanted teeth behind the permit.”

Coffin said he submitted the application on time, with the exception of the signed documentation from the abutters, which he said is the town’s responsibility.

Discovery of the Windsor Road project led to allegations that Swan’s wife, Selectman Carole Swan, steered town contracts to her husband. The Kennebec Journal reported In 2009 that Swan was awarded the $53,000 Windsor Road contract without bidding.

Ham has said the town could face fees of as much as $12,500 for the violation.

Mechele Cooper — 623-3811, ext. 408

[email protected]

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