Builders Convince Corps to Scuttle New Permit

Filed in Codes and Standards, Land Development, Legal by on October 25, 2014 0 Comments

scissors cutting red tapeHome builders in New England have been spared the aggravation of yet another regulatory hurdle with the help of NAHB and the New Hampshire Home Builders Association.

The Clean Water Act allows the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue “general permits” for certain types of discharge activities, and Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont have operated under their own individual general permits for more than 30 years.

But when NHHBA notified NAHB that the Corps wanted the New England states to work under “a one-size fits all” unified general permit—the so-called New England General Permit (NEGP), the Legal Action Committee went to work.

After talking to New England EOs and members, NAHB and NHHBA sent a joint comment letter in September demanding that the Corps drop its plan. Not only would the permit represent an additional layer of regulation, the letter said, but “builders question the Corps’ ability to handle the increased caseload without causing significant delay” or adding more costs to pay for more Corps staff.

Successful implementation of a region-wide plan would also pose a threat to other areas of the country, where the Corps might seek more places to consolidate its authority. That, too, would have been a bad idea, NAHB and NHHBA said in their comments.

“There is nothing particular about New England that necessitates consolidation of each state permit, especially considering the differences between the coastal areas of Rhode Island and Connecticut and the mountains of northern New England,” the letter said.

This month, the Corps announced that it would no longer pursue the consolidated NEGP, but instead work to update each of the state’s general permits.

“While there may be more battles to take on state by state, the builders in New England can take solace in the fact that the Corps will no longer develop a ‘one size fits all’ permit,” said Tom Ward, NAHB vice president for litigation.

For additional information, contact Ward or call him at 800-368-5242 x8230.

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