New York State Assembly Passes More Stringent Wetlands Rules
Onerous wetlands legislation passed the Assembly without opposition on April 19, and went to the Senate, where the Conservation Committee later passed the bill (A7905/S4480-A). The passage by the Senate Conservation Committee was deemed to be a political calculation under the assumption that the bill would be tied up in a subsequent committee, but the unanimous "Yes" vote in the Assembly by minority Republicans who had introduced bills to add protections for landowners was a surprise. The supporting memo justifies the bill by citing the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Solid Waste Authority of Northern Cook County (SWANCC), which held that the federal government does not have authority over isolated wetlands, leaving supposedly "millions" of acres of wetlands unprotected. This threatens New York State's water supplies and property values, says the bill's sponsors. Under the bill, jurisdiction would be triggered by wetlands of one acre rather than the current 12.4 acres, or by being adjacent to water bodies, including intermittent ones, or if deemed by DEC to be otherwise significant. The bill would eliminate the requirement that wetlands be mapped in order to be jurisdictional. Subdivisions containing wetlands would become automatically jurisdictional.