The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has released a general permit that streamlines and shortens the wetland permitting process for some residential, commercial and industrial projects impacting wetlands. The statewide general permit (“GP”) is required under a new law passed earlier this year by state lawmakers. It enables people who have a project resulting in the unavoidable filling of up to 10,000 square feet of wetland to get their permit decision more quickly if the project meets the standards and conditions in the general permit. Previously, all landowners wanting to pursue projects that involve wetland fill were required to seek an individual permit and lengthier environmental review. Projects that involve more than 10,000 square feet of wetland fill or do not meet the GP standards and conditions continue to require a wetland individual permit, which has a longer process time, a higher permit fee, and require wetland mitigation and a higher level of environmental review
The general permit for smaller projects identifies the location, design, and construction standards and other conditions any project must meet to qualify for the general permit, and to ensure that minimal environmental effects occur. The general permit is valid statewide for 5 years. When property owners’ projects apply to be covered under the general permit, DNR is required to issue a decision within 30 days.