If you are knee deep in water with wetlands issues, there is one more avenue to explore before you give up your building plans, or move to dryer land. My blogs of the past two days explore the background of wetlands, which might be good to review before reading my final thoughts on wetlands, and how to deal with them.
Real property developments at or adjacent to desirable water acreage often involve impacts to wetlands. The resulting legal issues are among the most complex and confusing in environmental law. Recently, a federal judge recused himself from a Clean Water Act case on the grounds he was “perplexed” by the way the law has developed as to what constitutes navigable water. Depending on the hydrological character of the wetland, proposed impacts may require interface with regulators at all levels of government — federal, state and local.
Environmental attorneys may have substantial experience in all of these arenas and have demonstrated the ability to navigate the ever-changing legal landscape governing permitting of projects impacting wetlands. Properly selected, these attorneys partner with clients through every step of the process, beginning with an analysis of whether impacts to wetlands can be minimized or avoided altogether, saving time and money.
When impacts are unavoidable, the attorneys can manage every step of the permitting process, including negotiation with the appropriate government officials. Most are experienced with various mitigation strategies, including the purchase of wetlands credits at a wetlands bank or the creation of off-site wetlands when necessary. Expertise in these matters allows clients to avoid costly surprises and delays after a project is underway.
When one of the most popular books in the wetlands field is entitled, “Lawyers, Swamps, and Money” by Royal C. Gardiner, (available through booksellers such as Amazon.com). This book gives one an idea of how the global scope of wetlands policy actually works.
Planning upon purchasing property to develop? My recommendation would be to avoid property which could potentially be designated as wetlands. Do your homework thoroughly prior to purchasing, because once you have your money invested, you don’t want it to suck you down a never ending drain.