The Effects of Wetland Remapping

Environmental Training Resource
May 17, 2013 — 1,591 views  
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Wetland remapping is conducted by many states and agencies to regulate the usage of land. Currently, this exercise in New York is conducted by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) as well as the State of New York. Wetlands measuring up to 12.4 acres or more are regulated by the State. The exercise is cumbersome for applicants who are looking for new projects due to conflicting requirements by the two agencies. 

Impact on Business

New maps formed by wetland remapping will definitely impact business. It will also impact municipalities and landowners. Property owners will most likely request municipalities for reduced assessments. Others within the municipal area will have their assessments increased to compensate for the difference. This economic event will impact property owners also as their property will receive lesser sale price. But the municipalities will bear the burden of reduction each year.

The wetland remapping issue, according to the DEC will be dealt with on a case basis separately. If the map is released now, there are more chances of controversies and discussions, so dealing with the issue case by case is the preferred approach. Titus is a landowner affected by wetland remapping. He bought the property way back in the 1970s. He has 25 acres located in Wallkill, on Third Street. This location is to the south direction of Buena Vista. Within his property lie wetlands measuring 7.3 acres. He has promoted different plans relevant to the development. But his current plan is affected by the new exercise.   

Future Projects

Future projects that are planned but not yet built will also be affected by wetland remapping. They must change according to the new guidelines. This rule complicates all future plans as there are pre-approved plans in large numbers throughout the state that are yet to begin. Many projects were approved earlier and also engineered. But they were awaiting improved economy before development could begin.

Wetland remapping has also impacted the future project planned by Titus. His plan for 31 lots got a green signal. A copy of the approval was handed over to the DEC. The permit is applicable till the year 2015. But there are concerns for those homeowners who purchased a lot out of the 31 available. If this lot has buffer zone in the backyard with a proposed swimming pool, it is not known whether the original permit holds or a separate permit will be needed from the DEC.

Possible Alternatives

From the rising complications and difficulties it is evident that wetland remapping is not the best solution. At some point in the future there will be a need to remap the entire state. In addition, the exercise will be costly. An alternative solution is offered by USACE 404. This program by DEC promises several benefits. The 404 program would still give permits without needing the maps. In other words, the wetland remapping exercise can be entirely scrapped. Since maps tend to be inaccurate over time, wetlands may be regulated without maps.

Then DEC would not be constrained to expend money, effort, and time in having to maintain the maps that are old. The USACE permit alone would be sufficient to protect the wetlands. Alternatively, the DEC can take over this process. This solution would not require the applicants to two agencies with conflicting conditions. Application to DEC alone would serve the purpose.

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