November 15, 2000
Dear Property Owner:
The purpose of this letter is to advise you that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (Department) will not be filing the final wetlands maps for Saratoga County until further notice. While the Department recognizes the value of accurate wetland maps, it also recognizes the compelling importance of maintaining the public's confidence in the mapping program.
The New York Freshwater Wetlands Act requires the Department to prepare end maintain maps containing the boundaries of freshwater wetlands throughout the State. There are 20 separate maps, called quadrangles, that cover all the wetlands in Saratoga County under the responsibility or the Department, These maps, which date back to 1987, are kept on file at the office of the clerk in each local government,
As part of the Department's responsibility to implement the Freshwater Wetlands Act, it periodically proposes to amend the wetlands maps to improve their accuracy. The map amendment process involves consultation with the owners of property on which wetlands are located. Among other requirements, the Department must mail notices to property owners, and hold at least one public hearing at which anyone may provide written or oral comments,
On April 28, 1999, the Department mailed notices to approximately 4,264 real property owners within Saratoga County, These notices alerted property owners that their property contained wetlands that would appear on the proposed amended maps. The notices also alerted properly owners that the proposed maps were being made available for public inspection in town, village, City, county and Department offices, Of the property owners notified, 688 requested that the Department verify and delineate the actual wetland boundary located on their property, To date, Department staff have met with 614 of these property owners.
In addition to sending the notices, the Department held 15 informational meetings throughout Saratoga County and also held an official public hearing on July 29, 1999, At the public hearing, the Department received oral statements from 42 persons, including State Legislators, local government officials and property owners. Nearly every individual making a statement expressed a concern with a map amendment, the map amendment process, or the Department's implementation of the freshwater wetlands permit program, In addition, the Department received 95 written comments, the vast majority of which paralleled the oral statements from the public hearing.
In response to these comments, the Department is suspending the current map amendment effort in Saratoga County until further notice. The proposed map amendments do not constitute a final agency determination on the presence or absence of wetlands on your property. Rather, you are entitled to request the Department to verify and delineate actual wetland boundaries, Indeed, the Department will continue to fulfill the outstanding requests from property owners to do so. Additional requests for this service may be made to Kenneth Kogut, Regional Manager of the Bureau of Habitat, at (51 8) 897-1290.
Of course, the mere presence of a wetland on your property does not mean that you are prohibited from undertaking projects on your property. In fact, you can continue to use your property for a broad range of activities without a permit, such as mowing your lawn, cutting firewood, grazing livestock and planting and harvesting crops. Indeed, only projects that have a negative impact to a regulated wetland or land within 100 feet of the boundary of a regulated wetland require a permit from the Department prior to commencement, If you are considering such a project, Department staff is available to work with you to review the proposal and discuss the alternatives that might avoid impacts to the wetland or minimize unavoidable impacts. Requests for assistance in determining whether you need a permit for a project, or for additional information about the wetlands permit program, may be made to Kenneth Kogut at the telephone number listed above.