The Business Council opposes this legislation, which would change in the definition of a “freshwater wetland,” lowering the jurisdictional threshold from 12.4 acres or more to 1 acre or more.
This action will potentially shut down much of the site development in New York State. If this were to become law any 1 acre parcel that has wetlands plants or standing water for any time during the year would be classified as a wetland. Basically every parcel in the state with a drainage ditch would require a permit. We fear that most small properties would be non-buildable and stay undeveloped under these changes.
This in turn will place New York’s, particularly upstate’s, economic development efforts at a severe competitive disadvantage with other parts of the country. This overregulation is making it too difficult to do business in this state, killing the upstate economy.
Moreover, the proposed wetlands regulations would threaten farmland, homeowners in existing subdivisions, municipal lands slated for public improvement and significant tracts of land where development has been anticipated and encouraged for decades. In a region like western New York that is crying for economic growth, this bill would be a tremendous deterrent.
This legislation will also cause a huge disruption for both developers and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in terms of getting timely permit approval. DEC would be required to update all of its wetlands maps and with limited resources approve many more development projects than it currently handles. Now is not the time for job creating projects to be slowed down.
Finally, we believe this legislation is just not necessary to accomplish the goals of protecting wetlands. DEC already has the power to regulate wetlands of any size if they are determined to be of “unusual local importance.” This allows for a more subjective analysis of a wetland as opposed to just looking at its size.
The Business Council understands the need to protect our natural environment. We believe current law adequately accomplishes this without unduly inhibiting necessary economic development.
For these reasons The Business Council opposes adoption of A.3374.