A Wayzata company has agreed to pay more than $400,000 for federal permit violations involving several acres of wetland near Sauk Rapids, Minn., in connection with a commercial development.

DMH Partners North agreed in a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice to pay a $75,000 fine and buy about $340,000 in “wetland credits.”

Federal and state laws require developers, public agencies or others who destroy a wetland for a project to purchase credits in restored wetlands somewhere else, usually in the same watershed.

In 2008, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued DMH a permit in connection with the company’s development of a 34-acre parcel in Sauk Rapids. That parcel included about 10.2 acres of wetland protected by the federal Clean Water Act. The wetland abuts a tributary that flows to the Mississippi River via the Elk River.

The permit allowed DMH to discharge fill material into 7.8 acres of the wetland under certain conditions, among them buying off-site wetland credits intended to mitigate harm to the local landscape and water.

In June 2009, the corps inspected the site and found that DMH had filled wetland on the site, but abandoned it without meeting the permit’s conditions, including the purchase of the off-site wetland credits. The site was later sold at a foreclosure auction.

The corps ordered DMH to address the violations, but prosecutors said the company refused to meet the requirements of the permit or follow the compliance order.

Paul Walsh