Wetland Determination (1 Viewer)

yankmccobb76

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Does anyone have any experience with having a wetland determination made on a piece of property you wish to build upon? We signed a purchase agreement for some land for future new home construction but placed a stipulation in the agreement for a wetland determination. The property is 1 foot below the floodplain and I realize will have to be built up in order to build but the realtor said that there could be some fees involved with the wetland determination depending upon how much is discovered. So, I couldn't see making the agreement not knowing how much those fees could possibly be.

Any advice or experience with this is appreciated.
 
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Waymer

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Does anyone have any experience with having a wetland determination made on a piece of property you wish to build upon? We signed a purchase agreement for some land for future new home construction but placed a stipulation in the agreement for a wetland determination. The property is 1 foot below the floodplain and I realize will have to be built up in order to build but the realtor said that there could be some fees involved with the wetland determination depending upon how much is discovered. So, I couldn't see making the agreement not knowing how much those fees could possibly be.

Any advice or experience with this is appreciated.
1) What state, county/parish, etc?

2) Any wetland scientist can determine if the site has wetlands. Obviously the size matters, but you're talking in hundreds or thousands of dollars, not tens of thousands or anything that crazy unless it's a unique situation. Typically this will be enough to satisfy the local planning department (who should have their own environmental department to verify this info).

3) It is possible they ask you to get an ACOE or DEP determination...and that's not a financial problem, it's simply a time issue as with any government operation.

I'd stress this varies from place to place though and you might want to find out from the planning/building department the exact requirements first.
 

saint-58

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I'll take a stab at this. I have taken a weeklong wetland training course and am certified in performing wetland delineations, but this is only for agriculture purposes. I barley passed the test, so some of what I type is based on memory.

First start with visiting your local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Office that services your parish. I'm assuming you are in Louisiana. Depending on where you live in Louisiana, some offices serve several parishes. They can give you an idea of whether or not your property is a wetland, based on soil type, hydrology of the area and vegetation types in the area. They may also be able to give you names and addresses of consultants who can make the determinations.

Any determination made will show how much of the property is a wetland, if any, and any mitigation which will have to be done for the wetlands which are being impacted.

Attached is a link for the Louisiana NRCS and it contains info on wetlands and office sites throughout the state:
http://www.la.nrcs.usda.gov/

Hope this helps.
 

The Mongoose

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If it's determined that your property is wetlands, you will have to buy into a wetlands bank. A wetlands bank is a piece of property usually in the middle of nowhere where you can replace wetlands that get developed.

It allows development while still retaining wetlands.

You would just have to replace what you are taking out of the wetlands pool (say an acre, or however big your land is) in the wetlands bank.
 
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yankmccobb76

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I'm in Denham Springs, La.

It is a 20 lot subdivision we are looking at buying into and 10 of the lots have already had the determination done. These lots start out at 10 foot above floodplain while the back is 1 foot below......well, it was determined that the 1 foot below area is a wetland. So, I assume since my property is all 1 foot below that most of the property will be considered a wetland. The property is 1.73 acres. The realtor was not sure if you had to replace the portion of the wetland that the construction was on or the entire property so I'm not sure how much will be determined.

I contacted the Corps of Engineers because they will do the determination for free but there wait is 45 days at the moment.....which isn't terrible but longer than I'd hoped.

Any idea how the cost is figured? So, much per square foot or acre?

Thanks for the replies.
 

saint-58

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I'm in Denham Springs, La.

It is a 20 lot subdivision we are looking at buying into and 10 of the lots have already had the determination done. These lots start out at 10 foot above floodplain while the back is 1 foot below......well, it was determined that the 1 foot below area is a wetland. So, I assume since my property is all 1 foot below that most of the property will be considered a wetland. The property is 1.73 acres. The realtor was not sure if you had to replace the portion of the wetland that the construction was on or the entire property so I'm not sure how much will be determined.

I contacted the Corps of Engineers because they will do the determination for free but there wait is 45 days at the moment.....which isn't terrible but longer than I'd hoped.

Any idea how the cost is figured? So, much per square foot or acre?

Thanks for the replies.
Don't hold your breath on that 45 day wait. If you plan to start building within the next 6 months you may be better off paying for a consultant to come in and do the determination.

As for the cost, if the whole 1.73 acres are determined wetlands, you will have to mitigate for that acreage and it isn't necessarily an even acre for acre swap out. I don't know the formula used for determining the amount that has to be replaced, but it is based on the type of wetland that is being lossed. For example you may have to pay for 3 acres of mitigation for the 1.73 acres you have converted. Also th mitigation banks set there own cost for replacement values. I know of one here in southwest Louisiana that was 40 acres in size and the selling price was $1200 per acre. It sold out in six months. Right now in this same area the going rate is any where from $4000 to $6000 per acre. In most cases the mitigation bank you use has to be in the same hydrologic unit of where your property is located.

I have attached a link on mitigation baks from the COE and about 2/3 down the page it gives information on:
II- USING MITIGATION BANKS AND MITIGATION AREAS TO COMPENSATE FOR WETLAND IMPACTS

http://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/ops/regulatory/bank.htm
 
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yankmccobb76

yankmccobb76

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Don't hold your breath on that 45 day wait. If you plan to start building within the next 6 months you may be better off paying for a consultant to come in and do the determination.

As for the cost, if the whole 1.73 acres are determined wetlands, you will have to mitigate for that acreage and it isn't necessarily an even acre for acre swap out. I don't know the formula used for determining the amount that has to be replaced, but it is based on the type of wetland that is being lossed. For example you may have to pay for 3 acres of mitigation for the 1.73 acres you have converted. Also th mitigation banks set there own cost for replacement values. I know of one here in southwest Louisiana that was 40 acres in size and the selling price was $1200 per acre. It sold out in six months. Right now in this same area the going rate is any where from $4000 to $6000 per acre. In most cases the mitigation bank you use has to be in the same hydrologic unit of where your property is located.

I have attached a link on mitigation baks from the COE and about 2/3 down the page it gives information on:
II- USING MITIGATION BANKS AND MITIGATION AREAS TO COMPENSATE FOR WETLAND IMPACTS

http://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/ops/regulatory/bank.htm

I'm more concerned with the cost than the time. I don't expect us to build within the next couple of years but I don't want this to come back with me having $5,000 in fees. I'd have to void the purchase agreement if that is the case.

Man, has it always been the complicated.
 

Waymer

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58 is spot on with his points, and what I was hoping to drive at once you responded.

1) 45 days. :hihi: Sorry, I have to chuckle at that. Hey, it happens sometimes, but don't hold your breath on that time frame.

2) Yep, mitigation isn't a 1 to 1 thing. I just recently had a client who was impacting about 0.8 acres of wetlands, but because of secondary wetlands concerns, etc, etc...it pushed the mitigation up to 15 acres which is pretty damn absurd. This was a different situation, don't think you will have that problem, but it turned into a $60k-$90k problem for him if he wanted to develop the site.

3) Also, don't assume that just because you are a foot below the floodplain that you are in wetlands. The two do not necessarily have to correlate. Yes, obviously lower areas tend to be prone to wetlands, but not always. Plus, depending on what floodplain map was used (what year in other words...1998? 2002?) the floodplain could have been adjusted somewhat.
 
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yankmccobb76

yankmccobb76

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Yeah, when she said that it could take years I almost fell out of my chair......years?

If that's the case I guess I can kiss the land goodbye because there is no way the guy will hold on to the land for years waiting for me to decide on the results.

I guess if I knew it wouldn't be more than a couple thousand dollars then I could decide if it's worth it or not.
 

Tony in Brandon

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Good luck with it. Getting anything from the Corps in 45 days is a pipedream! A simple way to start off would be to get the quad map for that area. You can sometimes see if the area is a wetland by "+" being located in the area. You can also check where nearby creeks are and then with the color of the area of the land. If the area is white, you might be expecting a problem with it. If the area is green and elevated, you might be okay. Now, this will not finalize you for delineation, but it will give you a quick look at it. Of course, this applies in Mississippi, and I'm not familiar with how the soils are in Louisiana. Good luck though!!!
 

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