Rutland property owner fined for removing vegetation and placing fill in wetland

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RUTLAND — Leonard Knappmiller and Knappmiller, LLC, were recently fined $6,000 for clearing vegetation and placing fill within a Class II wetland and its 50-ft buffer on a property in Rutland.

The Agency of Natural Resources Department of Environmental Conservation reviews activities, such as clearing and filling, conducted in or near wetland and permits those activities that will not cause an undue adverse impact on wetlands.

Between 2013 and 2016, without a wetland permit, Knappmiller is said to have removed vegetation and placed fill material in an estimated 10,200 square feet of Class II wetland and wetland buffer on his Rutland property.

DEC personnel observed the wetland impacts on the property in the spring of 2016 and say they directed Knappmiller to restore the area to its original condition.

The remedial work was not completed, so the Agency says they proceeded with enforcement in 2018.

“Wetlands provide critical water quality and habitat functions that benefit all Vermonters. During the development phase of a project we provide education and consultation to landowners and developers to help them avoid and minimize impacts to wetlands,” said DEC Commissioner Emily Boedecker. “However, when development projects do not gain the required permits or exceeded permitted impacts to wetlands, we use a suite of tools to gain compliance, up to and including formal enforcement action.”

To resolve the violation, Knappmiller reached an agreement with DEC, through an Assurance of Discontinuance, to restore the altered wetland and remediate the impacts of vegetation clearing by removing the added fill, restoring and stabilizing the natural slope of the area, and monitoring the remediated area for three years.

The agreement, which was entered as a court order by the Vermont Superior Court, Environmental Division on October 1, 2019, also requires Knappmiller to pay a $6,000 penalty for violating the Vermont Wetland Rules.