The permitting process is complicated in any state, but is even more challenging in Washington state. We have three, sometimes four or five levels of government (federal, state, county, local, and tribal). We know which permits you will need, what technical reports the agencies need to be turned in with your permit applications, what kind of information needs to be in both the reports and permit forms, when to submit your applications, and in what order.
Permitting is when we fill out and submit your forms and reports to the federal, state, and local agencies to approve your project. Depending on what you want to do and how big your project is, getting all your approvals can take from weeks to months. On really big projects, it can take a year or two. There are lots of rules to review, so we keep a 28-page permit checklist. We will check your project against our list of all the possible permits you will need to make sure you ask for all the approval you will need.
Go- / No-go Recommendations
If you are not sure about a project idea you have, we can help you decide. How? We will gather technical information for you such as what the zoning code allows, and if some of your property has wetlands on it. That way you can make an informed decision. We will also figure out what approvals you will need, what the laws will allow, and then meet with talk with you about how your ideas fit with your property. We will recommend either you go ahead with your project, or that you find another place that works better. We call this a go/no-go recommendation. We find this can save you lots of money, especially when we do this work for you before you buy a property.
Project or Code Compliance Review
Sometimes our clients find they are not the ones proposing a project, but are opposed to a certain development. We can often do a code compliance review. That means we will review the local, state, and federal laws, and recommend approval or denial of a specific project. For example, we have a client who is concerned a project proposed by council members will negatively affect the neighborhood. Upon closer review, we found the project as proposed is not supported by the local comprehensive plan, development regulations, or the zoning code. The neighborhood attorneys, who found our recommendations included issues they had not considered, used our findings in their appeal.
We have found it quite common for a junior agency staff to not understand their rules or codes. We have had many clients through the years be told the wrong answer at the permit counter. This is always a challenge to diplomatically go about changing the initial No to a Yes.
If you think you have been given the wrong answer, or that your project should be allowed after a government agency tells you differently, we can help you review their decision. We have been very successful in getting applications reviewed and approved after the agency initially denied accepting the application.
While we are not attorneys, we can help save you money and reduce your legal bills by providing legal research and support at much lower rate than lawyers charge.
We work closely with land use lawyers almost daily. We can prepare all of your permit applications, and prepare some of your appeal documents, supporting your lawyers and lowering your costs. We can also serve as your expert witness in hearings and trials.
Types of Projects We Permit
- Lot Creation / Plats / Subdivisions
- Commercial developments
- Residential developments
- Site Construction Compliance (CESCL Inspection)
- Channel dredging
- Wetland fills or impacts
- Wetland and stream buffer impacts
- Levees and dikes
- Ditch maintenance
- Mitigation banks
- Endangered Species Banks
- Airport runway expansions
- Permit renewals
- Culvert replacements
- Stream crossings
- New docks
- Dock renovations
- Home occupations
Common Permit Applications We Prepare
Eldred & Associates can help you get the permits you need for your projects. While the projects are very different, the permit process is quite similar. The following permits are some of the permits you may need, permit applications we regularly prepare and submit for our clients:
- Grading permits
- Pre-application meetings
- Critical areas review
- Floodplain development permit
- SEPA/NEPA Review (State Environmental Policy Act, National Environmental Policy Act)
- Social Impact Assessments
- JARPA (Joint Aquatic Resource Permit Application)
- HPA (Hydraulic Project Approval)
- NPDES General Construction and Individual permits
- NPDES Municipal Stormwater General permits
- Certified Erosion and Sediment Control Lead (CESCL) monitoring and reporting
- Shoreline Substantial Development permit
- Shoreline Exemptions
- Shoreline Variances
- Shoreline Conditional Use permit
- Special Use permit
- Accessory Dwelling Unit approval
- Section 404 Wetland / Department of the Army permits
- Section 401 Water Quality Certification
- Section 10 Work in Navigable Waters permits
- Endangered Species Act Section 7 review
- Section 106 Review Archaeology and Historic Preservation Review
- Coastal Zone Management Approval
- Critical Areas:
- streams, creeks, rivers
- frequently flooded areas (floodplain development)
- steep slopes
- wetlands (jurisdictional, non-jurisdictional, shorelines, prior converted)
- aquifer recharge areas
- Required Technical Documents
- Archeological review
- Hydraulic modeling
- Hydrologic modeling
- Phase I Environmental Site Assessments
- Engineered site drawing
- Groundwater modeling and assessment
- Biological Assessment
- Wetland delineation
- Stream assessment
Other less frequent permit applications include:
- Air Operating permit
- Forest Practices permit
- Aquatic Use permit
- Aquatic Lands Right of Entry License
- Fish Habitat Exemptions
- Surface Mine Reclamation Permit
- Wetland Mitigation Bank Certification
- NPDES Aquatic Noxious Weed Control General Permit
Mitigation is where you offset any negative impacts from your project by doing something positive. Think of mitigation as an old fashioned scale; any negative will have to be balanced by a positive.
There are many kinds of mitigation from stormwater, streams, wetlands, schools, roads, the list is long. In Western Washington, wetland and stream mitigation are what you will most likely face.
Eldred & Associates conducts site visits for wetland mitigation monitoring reports. Key things we review are:
- Plant health
- Number of living plants
- Percent of site with non-native plants
- Size of wetlands and buffers
- For streams, we look at standards such as biological monitoring, large wood, scour assessment gravel sorting assessment, pool riffle ratio, fish presence surveys, functional evaluation, and general riparian and stream channel conditions assessment.
The Agencies (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington State Department of Ecology, tribes, and local agencies) usually require that you monitor your site for 10 years afteryou re-plant your site.
Eldred & Associates looks at each project to determine the how your site functions ecologically when we start, what plants needs to be monitored (vegetation sampling and cover analysis), how and where we will keep monitoring your site (establish field monitoring stations and protocol), and discuss with you any changes needed according to your permits (review and evaluate performance standards). If you have a stream on your property, we will do similar work to report to the agencies how your stream mitigation is working, too. We relay our findings to the agencies in both conversations (written, phone and in person) and in the required reports.
Just about any undertaking, be it a regulatory action or a project, you will encounter a rule or a law. We have spent our careers working with laws or rules on a daily basis. Some of the key rules we work with regularly include:
- The Clean Water Act
- The Endangered Species Act
- Critical Areas ordinances
- Flood Damage Prevention ordinances
- Hydraulic Project Approval codes
- Land Use Petition Act
- Local development codes (zoning, flood plain, critical areas, building, etc.)
- Revised Code of Washington (RCWs)
- Washington Administrative Code (WACs)
- National Environment Policy Act
- State Environmental Policy Act
- Coastal Zone Management Act
Call us on 360 873 8156 or email us here for more information
Agencies We Work With
No matter what you are trying to accomplish, you will be working with people – it is all about relationships! We strive to maintain trust and respect with the agencies you will need to work with closely. Some of the agencies we work with on nearly a daily basis include:
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- National Marine Fisheries Service
- Bureau of Indian Affairs
- Washington State Department of Ecology
- Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife
- Washington State Department of Transportation
- Washington Department of Natural Resources
We Can Help You: Project Management
We help you minimize project risk through effective management. Eldred & Associates ensures we function as an effective extension of you and your staff. We effectively manage our time to control costs, meet schedules, and maintain high quality standards for project deliverables. We will use an approach that focuses on proactive communication so you will always know the status of your project. Our quality assurance and quality control programs will identify any concerns early, and our planning and technical staff will report any concerns early to minimize project risk.
Knowing what the agencies will require in your permits and how they will look at your project during development is key to your project success. We can help you work closely with the agencies to facilitate project review, approval, and implementation. We have worked hard to gain the trust of the agencies you will work with on your project approval. We will convey that level of confidence to agency staff when we work on your behalf!
Enforcement Actions (Stop Work Orders)
Sometimes things do not go as planned, and you get red-tagged, flagged, shut down, and an enforcement action or stop work order is issued. We can work closely with the agencies to get your project back on track!