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Oneida County Landowner to Pay $30,000 for Unpermitted Filling of Wetlands and Grading on the Bed/Banks of Lake Minocqua

 

MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today that the Wisconsin Department of Justice has settled its lawsuit against Jerome Untiedt, an Illinois resident who violated Wisconsin's waterway and wetland protection laws at his Oneida County property.

 

According to the complaint, filed at the request of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Mr. Untiedt filled wetlands and graded at least 10,000 square feet of ground on banks of Lake Minocqua in 2005, 2009 and 2010, each time without first obtaining proper permits and authorizations and each time without first taking steps to protect the lake and adjacent wetlands from erosion.

 

The complaint states that in 2004, Mr. Untiedt approached the DNR to see if he could cut trees and dredge a wetland to create a pond on his Lake Minocqua property. The DNR told him he could cut a 30-foot viewing corridor, but that he could not alter the wetland. In 2005, Mr.Untiedt cleared a significant number of trees and placed fill in approximately 30,600square feet of wetlands on his property. He also graded more than 10,000 square feet on the banks of the lake without a permit. After the DNR and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers initiated enforcement, Mr. Untiedt removed the fill from the wetland and re-graded the site.

 

In 2009, Mr. Untiedt again placed fill in wetlands and graded approximately 47,000square feet of land on the banks of Lake Minocqua. He did not obtain the proper permits and permissions for this work, and did not attempt to control construction site erosion before he began disturbing the site. After the DNR discovered these violations, Mr. Untiedt again agreed to remove the fill, install erosion control measures and generally restore the site. The restoration work was completed in October 2009.

 

In 2010, the DNR learned that Mr. Untiedt had again filled wetlands and graded his property without first obtaining permits from the DNR. The DNR and Oneida County determined that portions of the filled wetland were below the ordinary high water mark of and connected to Lake Minocqua, thus also constituted lakebed. Mr. Untiedt installed an 8-to-10 foot by 300+ foot semi-circular concrete retaining wall in the slope up-gradient from the wetland, and placed soil and gravel that had been excavated for the retaining wall footings in the wetlands. The silt fences installed in 2009 had failed in places, and sand/gravel had slumped into the wetland. The newly graded area totaled approximately 29,815 square feet.

 

Wisconsin law prohibits persons from placing fill in wetlands without first obtaining certification or waiver from the DNR, and fill cannot be placed on lakebed without a state permit. State law also prohibits persons from grading more than 10,000 square feet on the bank of a navigable waterway without first getting a permit. Wisconsin law further requires that persons who must obtain grading permits must also develop and implement site specific erosion control plans designed to control erosion using measures that meet or exceed specific technical standards developed. Mr. Untiedt violated all of these laws in 2005, 2009 and 2010.

 

As part of the parties' settlement, Mr. Untiedt agreed to refrain from engaging in any kind of land disturbing construction activities (clearing and grubbing, demolition, excavating, filling and grading) on his Lake Minocqua property or on any other property he owns that abuts a lake, stream or river. If he desires to have any such work done in the future, he has agreed to retain a qualified third party contractor to engage in such work, and he will ensure that this consultant consults with the DNR and the appropriate county, and obtains any and all necessary state, federal or county permits before engaging in the work.

 

Mr. Untiedt promptly removed the 2010 wetland fill, he committed to seeding the upland portion of the graded area with a suitable plant mix, and he agreed to let the wetland re‑colonize with wetland plants. He also agreed to have a qualified environmental consultant or landscape architect specializing in the area of wetland plants and restoration conduct inspections of the site to document the restoration, to monitor for the presence of invasive or non-wetland plant species in the wetland areas, and to promptly remove such plants during the next three years. Mr. Untiedt will pay the costs of restoration and monitoring in addition to the $30,000 in forfeitures, fees, costs and attorney's fees he has agreed to pay.

 

Assistant Attorney General Diane Milligan represented the State. Oneida County Circuit Court Judge Michael H. Bloom approved the parties' settlement.

 

A copy of the Stipulation and Order for Judgment, Judgment and Complaint are available at the following links: