It may be a wetland
Baton Rouge lawyer Shane Sandefer says landowners in south Louisiana should never assume that their apparently dry property is not a wetland. He advises taking these steps:
1 Request a jurisdictional determination from the U.S. Corps of Engineers prior to disturbing the land in any way.
2 If wetlands do exist on the property, consider whether you need to develop that area. If it's a small site in a back corner, you may be able to leave it as is. “As long as you don't disturb the jurisdictional wetlands, you don't need a permit and mitigation would not be required,” Sandefer says.
3 If you do intend to disturb the site, apply for a permit. You will have to provide your development plan to the corps, indicating how many acres of wetlands you will alter. During the permitting process, you will have to provide mitigation for those acres. The corps can direct you to an appropriate mitigation bank, if you wish.
4 Be prepared to pay the price. Every acre of wetlands disturbed must be offset by setting aside 1.5 to 2 acres in perpetuity, never to be disturbed.
The cost of mitigating a single acre can range from $30,000 to $60,000, depending on the quality of the wetlands involved.
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