By Iris Richmond Home builders can breathe a small sigh of relief -- recently finalized wetlands regulations will ease nationwide permit requirements. Under the "no net loss" rule, builders can now use multiple forms of mitigation to replace a wetland. Permits for developers to impact more than 300 linear feet of intermittent streams were not eliminated. And the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will no longer require builders to provide documentation of compliance with FEMA standards, reasoning that local regulations oblige tougher compliance and also because it reduces paperwork.

These changes should provide more flexibility for builders, but other provisions remain a matter of contention. Individual permits are required for impact areas of more than a half acre, down from 3 acres in 2000. The NAHB, whose pending litigation against the Corps was recently amended to include the 2002 regulations, continues to oppose the lengthy permit process and sees no justification for less acreage impact.

The new regulations took effect on March 18.

BIG BUILDER Magazine, March 2002