CMM’s Environmental & Land Use practice group, under the leadership of Chairman Frederick Eisenbud, was able to persuade the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) to permit our client to keep the deck and dock he built without a tidal wetlands permit at his home in place – despite the fact that had DEC demanded its removal for several years before CMM was retained. 

Our client’s deck, dock, and bulkhead were severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy.  When the client sought a wetlands permit to rebuild exactly as the deck, dock, and bulkhead were when he purchased the house, DEC denied the application for the deck and dock because the prior owner built his deck and dock inconsistently with a tidal wetlands permit the prior owner obtained. When the client proceeded to build the deck and dock as they had been when he purchased the house without a tidal wetlands permit, the DEC demanded that he remove the deck and dock, which would have been extremely expensive. Fred directed the client to a wetlands specialist we frequently partner with, and the expert’s inspection revealed that no flora or fauna could be found on the water bottom, under the dock or outside of it, and that the area of the deck and dock over water was actually less than the area approved in the tidal wetlands permit granted to the prior owner. 

CMM knows from experience that when arguments to the DEC are based on science and the facts rather than emotion, the Department will listen. We successfully argued that our client’s construction created no adverse impact to the wetlands, and that what was built should be permitted to remain in place because the DEC would have granted the tidal wetlands permit for what was built had it been submitted with the information obtained by our expert. In a successful result for our client, the DEC imposed a reasonable penalty on our client for doing the work without a permit, but did not require that he remove any part of the deck or dock.

Learn more about how our Environmental & Land Use practice can help you here.