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Wetlands; What You Need to Know
New Staff

What You Need to Know BEFORE Buying, Selling or Developing Your Next Piece of Real Estate

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The demand for prime commercial real estate is at an all time high. As a result, the volume of good quality commercial sites is shrinking and more questionable properties are coming onto the market. What are the risks associated with these properties? Are there wetlands on site? Do you know what wetlands look like? You may be surprised to learn that wetlands may exist on almost any property and are not always obvious. So before you commit to buying, selling or developing your next piece of real estate, here are a few tips to help you address this all important issue.

First, hire a qualified wetlands consultant to walk the property, check background references and give you an initial opinion. The consultant will study plant species, soil types and hydrology and search for previous permits or violations on the property. The cost for this initial opinion is minimal.

If no wetlands exist, get it documented in writing and your site is free and clear. If wetlands are present, have the consultant delineate the exact boundaries, then get the area surveyed and mapped. This can be done by a licensed land surveyor in conjunction with a boundary or topographic survey. Costs for these efforts (delineation and survey) vary depending upon the acreage and extent of wetlands.

Even if your site has wetlands, you may still be able to develop it. Civil engineers and land planners can design innovative features into a project which address wetlands impacts while maintaining the commercial value of the lot. The Lakes Region Factory Outlet Mall in Tilton, New Hampshire has a stormwater detention pond near the entrance that doubles as a wetland mitigation area. With 3 acres of wetlands being filled in order to develop the mall, mitigating wetland areas were created within the pond. Other mitigating strategies included construction of wood retaining walls to maintain an existing marsh areas behind the mall site. A third feature of the wetlands mitigation program was off-site land banking. A nearby parcel with existing wetlands was purchased and the wetlands preserved by imposing deed covenants on the property. All of these techniques maximized buildable area of the site while effectively mitigating the wetland areas.

Think wetlands are a small matter in New Hampshire? Think again. The state processes between 2,000 and 2,500 wetlands dredge & fill permits each year. The different types of permits and approximate review times are shown in the accompanying table. Long review times and in some cases, application denials, are the main reason to get your wetlands checked out before you commit to buying, selling or developing your next piece of real estate.

Wetlands and the permitting process
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What is a wetland? A wetland could be a river, a brook, an intermittent stream, a pond or lake, forested or shrub areas, marshes, tidal areas and waters.

What type of permit do you need?
Type of Permit Area Affected* Approx. Review Time
Minimum expedited** less than 3,000 square feet (sf) 30 days
Minimum impact less than 3,000 sf 30-90 days
Minor impact 3,000sf - 19,999 sf 60-180 days
Major impact 20,000 sf and more 90-360 days

* other factors in addition to the square footages shown may elevate a permit into a higher category, such as public waters, shoreline or stream length, prime wetlands and previous permits.

** minimum expedited also requires sign-off by the town conservation commission. For additional information, visit the New Hampshire Wetlands Bureau web site at www.state.nh.us/des or call 271-2147.

New Office

Provan & Lorber is happy to announce the opening of a new engineering office in October 2000 in Canaan, New Hampshire. The office—the firm’s fourth—is located at the intersection of Routes 4 and 118 in the Granite Northland log cabin building. According to David Provan, P.E., President of the firm, "the decision to open an office in Canaan was based on the needs of our clients in the growing Upper Valley region. A local presence means we can be more responsive to their engineering and planning needs."

Michael P. Duffy, P.E., who has been with Provan & Lorber for nearly eight years, will serve as Regional Manager. A resident of Grafton, NH, Mr. Duffy is managing the firm’s projects in the Upper Valley region, specializing in civil/site design, municipal infrastructure, and permit acquisition. Jamie Tanguay, technical designer, is assisting Mr. Duffy with civil engineering design. A recent addition to the firm, Mr. Tanguay resides in Claremont, NH with his wife and two children.


New Staff
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The Contoocook, NH office welcomes three new staff.

Jon L. Warzocha has joined the firm as an Environmental Scientist.  Jon received his M.S. degree in geology and hydrogeology from the University of Maine and is currently enrolled in the MBA program at Franklin Pierce College.  He provides environmental site investigations, field monitoring, assists in the preparation of remediation plans, and in the permitting of public water supply wells.  Jon lives in Contoocook, NH.

Allison M. Rees is a Project Engineer for the firm for commercial and residential civil site design, municipal infrastructure and drainage.  Allison received her degree in civil engineering from the University of New Hampshire and previously engineered civil/site projects in New Hampshire's seacoast region.  She currently lives in Hopkinton, NH with her husband.

Daniel J. Pastuszczak is CADD Technician.  Dan is a recent graduate of Hopkinton High School where he participated in the school's pre-engineering curriculum, one of the first such model programs in the state.  He lives in Hopkinton.

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