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  1. #1
    Platinum Member
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    Jan 2004
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    992
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    Salem, CT
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    Deere 4310

    Default Question on Wetland Buffer Zoning

    Hi Guys - I've got three projects coming up. I hope to get all 3 started before the snow flies again - but I've got to go before our wetlands zoning commission for approval prior to starting them.

    Project 1 - Horse Barn (3 or 4 stall) - I don't think this will be hard to get through since they seem to be very positive towards this type of use for land that adjoins/borders wetlands. It will probably be a pole barn.

    Project 2 - Garage - I couldn't believe the site plan when I got it last night. My driveway technically borders wetlands buffer. I want to put a garage in at the end of the driveway, probably about 24 x 28.

    Project 3 - Inground Pool - this is the one I expect problems with. The only spot in my yard where I can put the pool will extend one end of it into the buffer zone.

    Have any of you ever tried to build in a buffer area around wetlands? If so, I'd appreciate it if you can give me some advice on how to proceed, and what, if any problems you encountered.

    Thanks in advance for your help.


  2. #2
    Veteran Member
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    May 2001
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    2,385
    Location
    Michigan
    Tractor
    New Holland TC40D Supersteer

    Default Re: Question on Wetland Buffer Zoning

    Wetlands restrictions are pretty restrictive around here. I would expect the answer from our wetlands board to be:

    Project 1: Denied
    Project 2: Denied
    Project 3: Denied

    Actually, we are restricted from building within 25 feet of the wetlands border.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
    Elite Member Gatorboy's Avatar
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    Aug 2001
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    3,099
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    Bel Air, MD
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    Kubota M8950, Bobcat 873 SSL & Kubota ZD-331

    Default Re: Question on Wetland Buffer Zoning

    <font color="blue"> Actually, we are restricted from building within 25 feet of the wetlands border </font>

    25 feet by me too -- and 100 feet for some "Special State Concern" areas.

  4. #4
    Veteran Member
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    Jun 2004
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    Byron New York
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    2004 BX2230

    Default Re: Question on Wetland Buffer Zoning

    What type of Wetlands are you speaking of. If it's Federal Wetlands you might as well stop now. But state controlled DEC wetlands may give you a break. Have you searched the web for information regarding your area? Did you call the county Soil and Conservation district? I would get whatever information together before you go to be prepared. Maybe others in your area near your house went through this already. Pick the neighbors brains or the local farmers or anyone you think might have had this problem.

    One thing I keep asking myself is how did the driveway and the house ect... get approved in the first place. Someone must have gone through this process before you. Can you contact the previous owners and get their input?


  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    522
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Tractor
    Kubota B7800

    Default Re: Question on Wetland Buffer Zoning

    Steve: I'm going through a similar process here in Eastern Mass, just South of Boston. No garage or swimming pool, but
    I've applied to my town's Conservation Commission for a determination that it won't violate the state wetlands conservation Act for me to build a pole barn and clear for a large vegetable garden some land bordering wetlands.

    We basically have three kinds of lands here:

    You really can't do just about anything on wetlands except, perhaps, build a minimal access route if that is the only way that you can get access to non-wetlands on your property.

    On Bordering Vegetated Wetlands (defined by the proportion of wetlands species of vegetation) the uses are very restricted, but some agricultural uses are permitted and other uses only if the Conservation Commission concludes that the use won't adversely affect the wetlands themselves.

    The use of uplands is unrestricted, except within 100 or 200 feet of wetlands, depending on the kind of wetlands.

    So far, I've had to (1) hire a biologist to survey the property and prepare a report indicating what portions of the property are wetlands, bordering vegetated wetlands and uplands and (2) file an application with the Conservation Commission for a determination that my intended uses are permissible.
    There are some indications that the Commission may not be too hostile to my plans, since I'm not asking for approval of either commercial or residential development. The Conservation Commission is supposed to hold a hearing on my application in early July.

    I'd be happy to keep you posted and compare notes as we go along.

  6. #6
    Platinum Member
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    Jan 2004
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    Location
    Salem, CT
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    Deere 4310

    Default Re: Question on Wetland Buffer Zoning

    The house was built new in 97. Whether the current commission would allow it or not I'm not sure. I've got one contractor coming out Monday to help get plans together before I submit the requests.

    If I get shot down on these plans then there would be a very good chance I'd sell and head up to our other land. I am trying to postpone building a whole new house for now - the prices are just too high.

    Dave - We've got 26' from the house to the beginning of the buffer. I can't believe that out of 8 acres they have restricted us to such a small area.

    ByronBob - I don't know who the authority is that designated the wetland borders - I'll find out though.

    Mad Dog - Good Luck with it. I'd be interested to hear how you do with your process. Perhaps the only thing going for me is that I live in a town of approximately 4000, so I am not yet sure how diligent they are about interpretation and enforcement of these rules. I'll be sure to post as I go through the processes. I think the wait in between meetings will be the worst.

    Thanks everyone for your input.


  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jun 2004
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    4
    Location
    Woodinville, WA
    Tractor
    Kubota B7800

    Default Re: Question on Wetland Buffer Zoning

    Steve,

    The local (state) regulations that implement the Federal rules will vary a bit, but some parts are pretty standard. We have 25 acres (WA state), almost 2/3 of that are in buffers or wetlands. Makes a nice privacy buffer and the wildlife likes it, but it does limit our pasture acreage.

    The fact that you have designated wetlands and buffers on a property that was built on in 1997 likely means that the 1997 building permit process "discovered" the wetlands and buffers. That means they are now plotted on an official map at the local planning/permit office. That is where the site plan came from. If you subsequently violate the buffers they will make you undo your work and levy fines. So be careful, and don't trust a contractor to know all the laws on this.

    My advice is to hire an expert on the local regulations, either a biologist or an engineer. We hired both. Then I invited a biologist from the county permit office to visit. Our county has a "pre-application conference" system that allows them to answer questions before you file any permits. Get to know them and ask questions in a friendly, reasonable manner. Hopefully they are friendly and reasonable too.

    As long as you stay out of the buffers, they will probably allow you to build anything that otherwise meets local code. It is common for driveways to be allowed in or adjacent to buffers - ours cuts through the buffer, but that is the only way in and it predated the buffer designation by many years.

    Our rules allow wells and well houses to be built in buffers (ours is) and driveway traverses. Utility easements are also possible, but no other structures, although one loophole is to pour a huge pad for the well house and park an RV on it. Our buffers must be forever maintained in a "natural state" so that means whatever grows there by itself, but no mowing.

    I'd guess in your case they will allow the barn and garage, assuming they meet local codes etc., but they are not going to allow the pool to spread into the buffer. You might be able to do a "swap" - that is take space from the buffer in one spot and give back more someplace else. There are other mitigation give backs that can buy you more freedom - talk to an expert.

    The rules are well intentioned but there can be some bizarre consequences from their application. Stay calm and be patient. And hire a good biologist or similar expert. It is worth paying for a few hours of their time early to save aggravation later.

    - Neal

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Posts
    37
    Location
    Chaplin, CT
    Tractor
    BX23

    Default Re: Question on Wetland Buffer Zoning

    I'm not far from Salem in Connecticut and recenly went through the wetlands hassle. I would bet most of the local codes are the same. We have a 75' buffer from the wetlands. 10 years ago it was 50', and the change didn't allow for grandfathering. I went to build my garage and it was in the buffer area. If your commission is similar to mine, you will be held up at least 2 months while waiting for approval.

    You are required to present plans at your first monthly meeting. This is were you see just how little the people on the commission know about building and wetlands....but that is another rant. The commission will take a month to visit your property (although after two permits, I never saw anyone walking my property) and do a walk around inspection to look for any wetlands concerns.

    After that you wait until the next scheduled monthly meeting and get a permit approval. Expect to have to show them plans that include, silt fence locations, where you will put soil removed while constructing your projects, etc.

    Depending on the size of your lot, it may be easier. They really have to let you work in a minimum lot size. I think ours is an acre based on state wetland regulations. That means if you have an acre lot, you really can't be stopped from doing any of your projects. If you own a large piece of property, get ready to explain why you can't move your buildings and pool to a nonregulated area.


  9. #9
    Platinum Member
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    Jan 2004
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    992
    Location
    Salem, CT
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    Deere 4310

    Default Re: Question on Wetland Buffer Zoning

    So far none of this sounds real promising. I also have another concern now that I read LapinFarmers post - I have cleared some of the newly discovered buffer from behind my house. I started this in the spring due to the fact we were literally getting over grown back there. Now that I've seen the prints it appears that we have almost no backyard. I really find this whole thing aggravating. There is so much undisturbed land around us - and I find it hard to believe that by me adding an additional 30' of depth to the back yard that I'm endangering anything... regardless, I may be in for some fines just based on what I've already done.

    Well as I've said before I think I'll just proceed and see what happens. It may not be pretty, but I've pretty much started the process.

  10. #10
    Veteran Member
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    Jul 2003
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    New Hebron, MS
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    MF 1455v 4wd, 1040FEL

    Default Re: Question on Wetland Buffer Zoning

    I noticed that all of the people involved in this thread are from "up north" after reading the issues and responses. While I've read of wetland issues here and there, seen indications that agricultural lands are moving more towards leaving buffer areas between croplands and streams, etc., I'm unaware of homeowner restrictions in this area other than building in a flood zone. It seems to me that compared to other areas of the country the entire state of Louisiana could be considered "wetlands", and I would like to find out more about possible local restrictions or even federal guidelines as to what constitutes "wetlands" or "buffer zones". Anyone able to help out with this? I did a google without much result.

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