Wetlands Restoration on Target

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By Linda Cicoira — Benjamin Mathai, the first person to be given jail time and a fine for clear-cutting protected wetlands and soil disturbance without a permit in Northampton County, was congratulated by Judge W. Revell Lewis III of the county circuit court Monday for complying with the requirements that were imposed in the landmark case.

A satisfactory report for mitigation and restoration was briefly mentioned in court about Mathai, 57, of Manassas Park, Va. “Everything is in order,” Lewis said. Another review was set Feb.10, 2020.

Mathai was sentenced a total of two years in jail and given $5,000 in fines. The terms were suspended to 40 days in jail and fined $2,000 in fines for offenses on his property in the. Exmore area. He was convicted of unpermitted encroachment into the Chesapeake Bay Resource Protection Area, use of wetlands without a permit, and unpermitted land disturbing activity. All three charges are misdemeanors. Mathai was permitted to serve his jail time on weekends. The restoration was initially anticipated to cost $160,000.

He said the criminal proceedings against him ruined the “solitude, peacefulness, (and) calm” he sought in purchasing property on the Eastern Shore. Mathai admitted he knew he needed a permit for the work that was performed.