Re: May 2016 In My View
Hi Jim –
I believe there needs to be clarification relative to some of the comments in your May newsletter.
You state that the town is losing “their” wetlands. Not so, it is the applicant as the property owner who owns the wetlands. However, the State of New Hampshire (and her citizens) has a vested interest in protecting those wetlands “… for the public good and welfare of this state …” [ref. RSA 482-A:1] .
While it is true that most towns, through their Conservation Commissions and Planning Boards, have the same interests and concerns as the state when it comes to protecting aquatic resources, including wetlands, nowhere in statute does it vest towns with ownership rights of wetlands on privately owned property.
So, “the town” is not losing anything other than the possible loss of some wetland functions that may provide benefits to the town. However, that issue is addressed through a functional assessment and mitigation for any loss of wetland functions during the wetlands permitting process.
In lieu fee is allowed as mitigation through an instrument that must receive approval from the Corps of Engineers, as New Hampshire has done. None of my contacts at the Corps supports making changes to New Hampshire’s in lieu fee instrument. To the contrary, the Corps is a strong supporter of the current instrument.
DES has done extensive outreach to towns providing encouragement and assistance so that they will be in a position to take advantage of in lieu fee monies when they become available. Front end loading such as this results in a more transparent, efficient, and cost effective way for utilizing in lieu fee monies; for the applicant, municipalities, DES, and others. Back end loading as you suggest is quite the opposite.
Thank you for your newsletters that provide an outlet for sharing information and, at times, an opportunity for opposing views.
DES Wetlands Bureau Administrator
“In My View” is an opinion article that will be posted once a month. It is my view of wetland and other environmental issues that will or may affect your business or organization. It will sometimes give you updates on new rules or legislation that has recently passed. In other cases, I will discuss legislation that is “in the works” at our state capital. As the name would imply, it is my view of what this rule, legislation or change means to you. I am constantly meeting with clients, friends and local regulatory officials who are asking me what this rule means or what that piece of legislation does. For that reason, I am providing this to associates of GES who might care to have this information. I will not be political, but I do reserve the right to be opinionated. If you know of someone who might want to receive future articles, feel free to forward a link to them. If in the coming months there is a topic, law, rule or regulation that you would like me to discuss, let us know. If I feel that I am competent to say something about it, I will discuss it in the future.
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