**IMPORTANT CORRECTION** The contractor’s first name in question is Jonathan.**
WILMINGTON, MA – At their meeting on Tuesday night, the Wilmington Board of Health voted to fine Wilmington contractor Jonathan Langone $6,000 and revoke his septic installer’s license through December 2018.
The punishments stem from violations of the town’s Board of Health regulations involving the improper demolition of a house at 13 Muse Avenue.
According to neighbors and town officials, Langone failed to remove asbestos in a house prior to demolition. (These allegations have been thoroughly reported on in the Wilmington media over the past week, including in the Town Crier, Lowell Sun, Wilmington Patch, and even CBS Boston.)
“I want to make it clear that this contractor knew exactly what he was doing,” said Wilmington Health Director Shelly Newhouse during a discussion at last week’s Selectmen’s Meeting. “[Langone] did something illegal. He did something wrong. And he got caught.”
“I’ve been here for 21 years. This is the first time someone has done this illegally,” stressed Newhouse. “This is a shoddy contractor, at best, who isn’t doing what he’s supposed to be doing.”
“Being hit in the pocketbook is sometimes the only way these guys understand stuff,” added Wilmington Building Inspector Al Spaulding.
“It’s a God damn crime scene. You folks shouldn’t be going through this,” Selectman Mike McCoy told neighbors in the audience. “[Contractors like this] should lose their God damn license. I don’t care who the developer is in this community. [The town] has an obligation and duty to protect folks.”
Newhouse noted that contractors are licensed through the state, not at the town level. It turns out, however, that local boards of health are the authority for septic installer licenses.
While Wilmington Apple isn’t privy to how the Board of Health reached a fine amount of $6,000, the Board is permitted to issue fines of $300 per violation, with each day constituting a separate violation. [See: Board of Health Regulations, Section 11.1]
Town Promises It Will Never Happen Again
“I take responsibility for the problem,” Town Manager Jeff Hull bluntly stated. “We didn’t do what we should have done…. The fact is: we directly do not have responsibility for the regulation of asbestos. That said, what we should have done is when we became aware that [Langone] was going rogue and demolishing the building, we should have contacted the DEP.”
“We tried to reach out to the town,” said direct abutter Kathleen Moore. “We, the residents, were the ones who got the DEP there. I’m sorry, but the town was no help to us. … [Langone] took the shortcut. If we hadn’t been there on that particular day, that house would have been down in a landfill. Your demo permit process has to change. DEP can’t monitor what they don’t know about it.”
“The problem is we didn’t have a process in place,” acknowledged Hull. “I’ve talked to some of my colleagues in neighboring communities. Most, if not all, have a process where the contractor is supposed to provide certain information with respect to asbestos. We didn’t have that process in place here. Shame on us. We were going on the honor system and, unfortunately, we got taken advantage of. It’s not going to happen again.”
“Contractors are required to go in, with a licensed asbestos contractor, to see if there’s asbestos in the house and, if so, have it appropriately remove,” explained Newhouse. “Contractors then notify DEP. [The town] never has to know about it. The contractor doesn’t have to provide us with that information. It’s not under our regularly purview.”
“Now, [under the new process], I have to double check every demolition permit that comes in and actually get physical evidence [relative to asbestos removal],” continued Newhouse. “I took it for granted that all these contractors knew what they were supposed to be doing. And this one didn’t.”
“Contractors are going to have to provide information (some kind of affidavit stating that an asbestos removal plan has been authorized by DEP),” Hull further detailed. “There just won’t be a checklist, but the necessary backup that somebody has documented what they tell us they’ve done is actually being done.”
The Selectmen, who were vocal in their displeasure of the town’s handling of this sutation, have asked to see a draft of this new process at their next meeting on Monday, September 25 at 7pm at Town Hall.
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