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Tidal Wetlands Permit Program: Application Procedures

Pre-application Planning

Before submitting your application, and preferably very early in the planning stages of your project, visit your town or county clerk's office or DEC regional office and ask to review the wetland maps.

Wetland at North Tivoli Bay, Hudson River

Locate your property and check whether or not a protected wetland is either on or adjacent to your property. Not all wetlands are protected by DEC.

Be aware however, that most wetlands will come under the jurisdiction of the US Army Corps of Engineers whether protected by DEC or not. If your project might come within 300 ft. of a protected wetland (150 feet inland within NYC), you must mark the tidal wetland boundary and show this line on any site plans you submit with your permit application. You must also show any freshwater wetlands present on the site and mark their wetland boundary. Determination of the tidal and freshwater wetland boundaries is the responsibility of the applicant.

The Tidal Wetlands Permit Issuance Standards require you to avoid or minimize impacts to the wetlands - you need the above information to plan for meeting that standard.

Application Assistance

Contact your DEC regional Permits office with questions about completing the application form and other required information for your application.

Keep plans flexible until DEC staff review your proposal and comment on its conformance with permit standards. Be willing to adjust your project. On occasion, minor changes in layout can avoid disagreements and delays and, in some cases, eliminate the need for a permit.

Applicants proposing complex, multi-residential, commercial or industrial projects are strongly encouraged to schedule a pre-application conference. This meeting with DEC allows the applicant to clarify project objectives and obtain DEC's recommendations. Such feedback can improve the project environmentally and shorten the application procedure.

Land Use Guidelines

Part 661 regulations detail the types of use and development that are usually permissible in different types of wetlands, and in adjacent areas. See Section 661.5 Use Guidelines (link leaves DEC website). Whenever possible, projects should be planned to conform to these guidelines. For more information concerning the different types of tidal wetlands as classified by DEC, visit the Division of Marine Resources webpage on tidal wetlands categories.

Development Restrictions and Variances

Where development is permitted, the regulations include additional requirements for minimum lot sizes; runoff restrictions; setback requirements for buildings, septic systems, roadways, accessory structures, etc. (See Section 661.6 Development Restrictions). Ensure prompt project approval - comply with these restrictions whenever property conditions permit. Variances to the development restrictions can be granted only if the applicant demonstrates that:

  1. Practical difficulties exist, which are not of the applicant's own making, which prevent compliance with the development restrictions. (Examples of practical difficulty include pre-existing lot size or geometry which prevents meeting requirements, or conflicting provisions of local building or zoning codes.)
  2. The variance sought is the minimum needed.
  3. Granting the variance will not result in an undue adverse impact on the affected wetland.
Aerial of wetlands in Tivoli Bay, Hudson River

Projects requiring variances, or that propose development inconsistent with the Development Restrictions of Section 661.6 will probably require significant modification to avoid, minimize or mitigate impacts in order to be approved. See item 10 below for more information.

Application Checklist For Tidal Wetlands

Required items include:

  1. The Joint Application for Permit Form (PDF) (637 KB) and Instructions for completing the Joint Application Form (PDF) (464 KB), are available on the Department's website page.
  2. Adjacent Owners. A list of the names of the owners-of-record of lands adjacent to the tidal wetland or adjacent area where the project is located and, in some cases, a list of the names of known claimants of water rights for the project property or for property within 300 feet of the project property.
  3. Location Map: A US Geological Survey (USGS) Quadrangle Map, or equivalent, identifying the project location.
  4. Project Plans:
    • Draw project plans to a scale no smaller than 1"=50'.
    • Draw plans for small projects to a sufficient scale to reasonably represent the project on standard working drawings no smaller than 8-1/2" X 11".
    • Topography drawn with a two foot contour interval may be required on some project plans.
    • The drawing must show existing conditions and the work to be performed and include all pertinent dimensions and elevations.
    • The plan must also show the mean high water line and the tidal wetlands boundary.
    • The wetlands boundary may be on the plans as it was delineated at the site by an environmental consultant, or shown as an accurate representation of the tidal wetland boundary as taken from the official tidal wetland maps.
    • You must also provide a cross sectional drawing through any proposed modification of beach or lands under water.
    • If a septic system is part of the proposed project, the plan must show the location of the system including the test hole location and data and the elevation of the system above seasonal high ground water.
    • Refer to Sample Plans available on the Department's website page.
  5. Photographs. At least 3 color photographs which clearly depict the site of the proposed activity.
  6. Water depth demonstration. DEC may require a survey of water depths for new boat mooring structures, such as docks, piers & floats.
    Protocol for Determining Water Depths
    • Depending on lot frontage, at least 3 depth profiles should be surveyed running roughly perpendicular to the shoreline. One should run generally along the proposed dock and the other two no more than 50' apart as measured from the first line along the proposed dock. Existing depth in this area should be made at intervals no greater than every 10' along these lines, with additional depth provided near the corners of all floats, piles, etc. and extend at least 30' beyond any part of that structure (floats, piles, etc.).
    • The existing conditions survey shall also indicate lines of high and low water, outline/edge of marsh (if applicable) and must bear the surveyor's seal with date time, equipment used and any survey reference data (MLLW, Mean Lower-Low Water, tidal benchmark data) used to determine site elevations.
    • All depths must be prepared and certified by a NYS licensed Land Surveyor using standard bathymetric survey methods and shall be depicted on a signed sealed survey. Depth must be referenced to the MLLW vertical datum as defined by NOAA, Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services. NOAA benchmarks that reference the MLLW vertical datum can be found at:
  7. Other information
    DEC staff may require additional information to adequately review and evaluate the application, such as engineering or supplemental reports, that justify this proposal over alternative non-wetland sites, and alternative layouts or designs which might avoid or minimize impacts to wetlands.
  8. Variances. For projects which require a variance, or which seek approval of uses designated in Section 661.5 as PIp (Presumably Incompatible-permit required), I (Incompatible), or P (Permit required), a statement that identifies feasible alternatives to the proposed project including:
    • Alternatives located on a site that is not a tidal wetland or adjacent area.
    • Alternatives that accomplish the project's objectives by means that do not adversely affect tidal wetlands.
    • Alternatives that reduce or minimize the project's encroachment and/or impact on tidal wetlands.

      When a variance is required, a written request setting forth the facts supporting the variance, must be submitted. This must include:
    • A clear statement of the specific element of the Development Restrictions in Section 661.6 from which you seek relief.
    • Specific identification of the extent of the variance sought.
    • Description and justification of the minimum variance necessary.
    • Identification and explanation of the practical difficulties claimed which support the need for the variance requested.
  9. Application Fees are required for Tidal Wetlands applications. Refer to Application Fees FAQs.
    Tidal Wetlands Application Fees
    • Minor projects: $200
    • Modifications to Permits: $200
    • Other projects: $900
  10. Environmental Assessment Form (EAF).
    • In accordance with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR), an application is not complete until a properly completed environmental assessment form has been submitted, a lead agency has been established, and a negative declaration or a conditioned negative declaration has been filed or a draft environmental impact statement has been accepted by the lead agency.
    • Refer to the Department's SEQR website page for additional information on environmental impact assessment.
    • SEQR Forms are available on the Department's website page.
      • If the project is an Unlisted Action, submit a completed Part 1 of a Short Environmental Assessment Form.
      • If the project is a Type I Action, submit a completed Part 1 of a Full Environmental Assessment Form.
  11. Structural Archaeological Assessment Form (SAAF).
    • In accordance with the State Historic Preservation Act (SHPA), the application is not complete until a determination has been made concerning the impact of the project on properties listed on or eligible for listing on the State or National Register of Historic Places.
    • Submit a completed Structural Archaeological Assessment Form (SAAF) (PDF) (905 KB) available on the Department's website page. In some cases, a cultural resource survey, including a field study of archaeological or historic features may be needed.