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Corps Extends Public Notice Comment Period for Proposed Regional General Permit
Says Public Has a Misunderstanding Over Wetlands Development on Coast

From: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers    Filed 10/28/06  GCN

Mobile, Ala. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District is extending the public notice comment period for the proposed Regional General Permit SAM-20 until December 10, 2006. The decision to give the public more time to review the proposal was based on comments received which clearly indicated more time was needed to review and understand the proposal.

“Based on the comments we have received, there appears to be a misunderstanding of what is being proposed,” said E. Patrick Robbins, Public Affairs Officer. “The proposal, and at this time that is all it is, only streamlines what is normally required to get a permit. It does not change any of the requirements.”

Post-Katrina redevelopment has created numerous individual residential permit applications. Under the current individual application process the applicant must go through a very defined process. This process involves the applicant clearly showing how they have attempted to totally avoid wetlands, if unable to do so how they have minimized the impact, and how they plan to mitigate for any impacts. The delineation of wetlands must meet an established criteria which clearly indicates they type and value of the wetlands being impacted. The individual application is then coordinated with other state and federal agencies and an environmental assessment is written for each application. In addition, the application goes out for a 30-day public review.

“The Corps has several Nationwide permits and Regional General Permits already in place. They don’t alleviate the need for an applicant to follow the rules and regulations,” said Robbins. “What they do provide for is an analysis which says IF, and note that’s a capital IF, the applicant has met all the requirements and it has been validated that they have, the 30 day public notice and individual Environmental Assessment won’t be required.”

“This streamlines the process but doesn’t change any of the basic requirements an applicant would normally have to abide by,” he continued.

The proposed Regional General Permit for the six counties - Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Pearly River, Stone and George - excludes any coastal or tidally influenced wetland areas.

“As we receive input from the public and other agencies, other areas may also be excluded from the Regional General Permit proposal,” said Robbins.  “That is why we urge everyone who has an interest to fully review the proposal so we can determine what modifications may be necessary or if this type action is necessary.”

The public can review the proposed RGP and submit comments by going to the district web page at http://www.sam.usace.army.mil/.

The public can mail comments to:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District Regulatory Division P.O. Box 2288, Mobile, AL 36628-0001

Or they can email comments to: dll-cesam-rd-pn@sam.usace.army.mil

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