By Tom Larson
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is proposing a new regulatory guidance for wetlands located on dormant construction sites. The guidance is intended to help streamline the permit process for filling newly discovered wetlands on projects that were commenced but not completed during the five years of the original wetland delineation (which expires after five years).
Due to the downturn in the economy, many development projects were halted for several years and new wetlands formed in areas where holes had been dug or significant grading had occurred. New wetlands have been discovered on many of these projects sites in locations that require the wetlands to be filled in order for the project to remain feasible.
For these cases, the DNR’s new guidance will create a presumption that for those new wetland areas there are no practicable alternatives to filling the wetland if any of the following conditions can be documented:
- If the developer or municipality has installed sewer, water, other utilities or roads to facilitate planned development;
- If the developer has undertaken significant site preparation work including clearing, grubbing and rough site grading, or otherwise altered site topography or drainage patterns; or
- If the developer has platted the area and sold at least 20% of the lots or the lot areas to third parties.
With input from members and wetland consultants, NAIOP-WI has been working with the DNR on this guidance for the past 11 months. The public comment period ends on July 30, 2015 and we are hopeful that the guidance will be approved before the end of August. To view the proposed guidance and to submit comments, please visit the DNR website at http://dnr.wi.gov/news/input/Guidance.html#open.