At a time when coastal areas are besieged by rising sea levels and more frequent, high intensity storms and hurricanes, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has taken steps to streamline the process for obtaining permits for certain coastal infrastructure and bulkheads.
DEC has finalized General Permit guidelines for bulkhead replacement and repair projects throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties, and now allows higher bulkheads to meet DEC guidance and Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) flood elevation guidelines.
Previously, in 2014, the General Permit (“Tidal Wetland Bulkhead with Dredging” GP-1-13-001), established streamlined permit approval guidelines for bulkhead projects, but only on the south shore of Nassau and Suffolk counties, west of the Robert Moses Causeway. Subsequently, General Permit (GP-1-18-001) expanded the coverage area of GP-1-13-001 to all of Nassau and Suffolk counties.
The newly approved General Permit (GP-1-22-001) covers tidal properties in Nassau and Suffolk counties, excluding high wave energy areas, vegetated tidal wetlands, submerged aquatic vegetation (eel grass) beds, and marsh island communities.
Bulkheads within Coastal Erosion Hazard Areas along the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound are not eligible for this permit.
The updated GP-1-22-001 includes several key advances over the prior General Permits.
- With regard to re-sheathing proposals, it allows a 4-inch seaward extension with timber boards, and an 8-inch extension for corrugated material such as vinyl or steel.
- It also allows height increases of greater than 18 inches where justified under local FEMA flood elevation rules or considerations under The Community Risk and Resiliency Act.
GP-1-22-001 will be effective for 10 years from the date of issuance, which gives property owners an increased degree of regulatory certainty.
The new General Permit continues to allow the removal and replacement of functional and lawfully existing bulkheads (including returns and capping boardwalks) in the same location and configuration along with limited dredging if necessary for such replacements.
However, DEC must still review and approve requests for any such activities before action can be undertaken under the new General Permit.
It is important to consult with expert coastal construction companies and/or environmental counsel or consultants before taking action in these coastal areas.