What Is Your Need?
At SWCA, we work with clients that are:
- concerned they may have wetlands, gopher tortoises, or other environmental issues on the property they want to buy or build on;
- worried that regulators like FDEP or the Water Management District will oppose their project, and
- stressed that hiring a consultant will be too expensive.
We alleviate those fears by:
- using good science to evaluate property,
- advocate for the client when dealing with regulators, and
- respond quickly with maps and reports you’ll need to move your project forward.
If you or anyone you know is about to buy or build on land have them call us,
SWCA for Our Expertise Wherever You Are.
Florida is a unique place, and people don’t realize that many properties are home to gopher tortoises, bald eagles, indigo snakes, manatees, and other listed species.
Listed species are not necessarily a problem for landowners. Depending on the site conditions and the needs for the use of the property we can often develop creative solutions that can minimize impact to listed species and allow utilization of the property.
As an example, Florida has listed the gopher tortoise as a threatened species. A utility company approached us with concerns about a proposed pipeline that would impact several gopher tortoise burrows. Re-routing the pipeline was not an option. We obtained permits and worked with an experienced heavy equipment operator to safely dig up and relocate the tortoises out of the easement and on to adjacent conservation land. The project continued unimpeded, and the tortoises were all safely relocated.
Bald eagles are another example: In April 2008, Florida revised its guidance documents for bald eagles. Bald eagle monitoring is required during nesting season (Oct-May) for certain activities within 660 feet of a nest tree. While bald eagles have made a remarkable recovery, they are still very sensitive to activities near their nests. SWCA has considerable experience using innovative techniques to perform the monitoring activities without disturbing the birds and working to keep the project on track.
Give us a call. 904.384.7020
Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments (ESA) investigate for possible contamination. Lending institutions often require Phase I or II ESAs before they will lend money on the purchase of commercial property. Phase I ESAs begin with the paper trail that could reveal possible contamination on or near the property in question. All of our Phase I ESA reports are warranted to meet ASTM E1527-13 standards. Deeds, permits, land transactions, tax records, and many other municipal and scientific data sources are reviewed to get an overall impression of activity on and around the property. SWCA also uses historical aerial photography that goes back to the 1950s that can help reveal activities that might not show up in county records.
If the results of the Phase I come back without any significant findings, then that is often enough to satisfy the lender and the transaction proceeds. However, if potential concerns show up in the first investigation, then the Phase II ESA moves to actual soil sampling for the contaminants identified in the Phase I. Once results are back from the lab and the extent of the contamination is determined, remediation recommendations are made in the Phase II reports. Sometimes the soils samples come back with levels so low that no remediation is necessary. But if further action is required, SWCA can provide an action plan that fits the needs of the project in speed, cost, and effectiveness. As with any land transaction, very often time is of the essence, so we move quickly to meet your closing deadlines.
We know how important it is to have a clear understanding of possible contamination of a site. Call us and let’s set a time to talk about your situation.
We’re here to help! 904.384.7020
The presence of heating oil tanks associated with older residential properties has become a concern for some appraisers and lenders.
Our closure reports provide professional assurance that the issue has been handled in accordance with the appropriate laws.
Peace of mind and an opportunity to close the deal is what you get when we are done. We have the experience necessary to handle this issue and satisfy the lender’s concerns quickly and for a reasonable price.
Call us today so we can have a professional geologist assess your situation and develop a proactive solution for you. 904.384.7020.
This is a scenario we know all too well: A person is working on their private property and then find that they are subject to agency threats because the project may be in violation of environmental laws. It’s a scary situation, but we’re here to help.
If the agencies are already threatening enforcement action, you will need an environmental consultant, and we are here to help you. We can help smooth out this stressful process by working with you and applying our experience.
Whatever the violation is, we can help you navigate the maze of regulations and act as your advocate. Our goal is to help you understand what is going on and then determine what your options are. We use plain language and our experience to help you.
Ultimately, SWCA’s aim is to help you satisfy the regulators and get your project on track. Most often, environmental permitting services will be required so we offer a solution as expediently as possible. Time is of the essence when resolving regulatory concerns.
Call us so we can help start the resolution process ASAP. 904.384.7020
Dock projects usually fall into two categories: exemptions and permits.
Most people qualify for a dock exemption. Often dock contractors handle these, but we can also do it for you. SWCA’s expertise proves invaluable when your dock project requires a permit.
Dock projects requiring permits might include docks over 1000 square feet, within navigable waterways, with riparian rights issues, within “Outstanding Florida Waters” or docks that could impact listed species or special aquatic habitats.
In the case of marinas, public access, or any marine structure that generates revenue, a land lease from the state of Florida may be required.
SWCA has experience in handling these projects.
Call and let’s discuss your needs. 904.384.7020
Knowledge is an effective negotiating tool when buying property, and conducting a wetland delineation before buying land is an exceptionally prudent move. Our wetland delineation service is one of our most popular offerings – especially with Realtors and people buying property.
Remember! Lack of standing water does not always mean that property is “dry.” SWCA uses site-specific data such as soil profiles, existing vegetation, and aerial photography to assess the status of the property. We use this information and 20 years of experience to provide you with advice you can use and understand. When we are done we provide you with a map and report of our findings which can be sent on to the surveyor.
Let us look before you leap.
Call and let’s talk about that land you are looking at. 904.384.7020
SWCA can review your property and give you a clear picture of the regulatory limitations that may be present.
If you are ready to build, its important to be fully aware of the environmental limitations of the property, if any. It could be wetlands, it could be gopher tortoises or other protected species, or it could be nothing. In any outcome, knowledge helps advance a project forward properly. It is important to have the land evaluated so you don’t run into regulatory problems when building. If wetlands are present we usually perform a wetland delineation and provide this information to you and your surveyor of choice. If gopher tortoises need to be relocated, we have authorized Gopher Tortoise Agents on staff to help with that, as well. Ideally we can advise you how to avoid impacts and move your project forward without additional permitting.
If you are prepping your land for sale, we can perform the same services to provide a report for potential buyers to consider. If you have our wetland line formally review by a regulator, the jurisdictional determination is good for five years. Many of our clients find value in having this information included in their sales package.
Call us and let’s set a time to talk about your situation. 904.384.7020
Environmental permits involving dredge and fill activities sometimes require water quality monitoring. Consumptive use permits may require hydrologic monitoring of surface waters and wetlands in order to be authorized or renewed.
SWCA uses modern tools to provide you with cost effective and reliable data. We base our project requirements on the needs of your permit.
We then utilize appropriate technologies to minimize your cost and maximize the return on sampling effort. This saves you money and provides you with reliable, accurate data.
Call us so we can examine your needs and develop a cost effective strategy that works for you. 904.384.7020
People hear the word ‘mitigation’ and often times do not understand what that means or what it does.
Wetlands are special habitats that provide unique wildlife and water quality benefits to all of us. As a result, these habitats are protected by local, state, and federal laws. Sometimes wetland impacts are unavoidable (such as for roads). This is where mitigation comes in.
Simply put, mitigation is a way to offset impact to a regulated area. Impacts include dredging, filling, draining, or other substantial changes to wetland habitats. In certain circumstances mitigation may be required for upland wildlife habitat.
The St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) have established quantitative methods to determine how much mitigation is required for a particular project. This keeps the focus on wetland function instead of someone’s ability to negotiate. Wetland assessment methods are still somewhat subjective in their approach. The two most used methods in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia are the Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method (UMAM) and the Wetland Rapid Assessment Procedure (WRAP). Both methods have their strengths and weaknesses. We use WRAP and UMAM for a variety of projects and have successfully completed many projects using these tools.
We always recommend avoiding wetland impacts if at all possible because the mitigation credits are extremely expensive depending on the mitigation basis your project is in. Plus, the permitting process may take a long time. Six months to a year or more is not unusual. Keep in mind also that nobody is guaranteed a wetland permit.
This is a complicated subject. If you feel you are in need of this service, call us and we’ll walk you through your options. 904.384.7020
In Florida, properties listed as “wetlands,” “swamps,” or “marshes” are supposed to be taxed at a lower rate than regular residential or commercial property. Are you aware that at least 1 out of every 4 parcels in Florida contains wetlands? Are you also aware that the property appraisers can reduce tax assessments based on the presence of wetlands? As odd as it may sound, wetlands can save you money.
It is estimated that about 25% of property owners unknowingly pay too much in property taxes.
We can help. SWCA specializes in wetland issues. We can delineate the wetlands on your property and then help you file the paperwork with the county to reduce your taxes.
A residential parcel we investigated was about 29 acres. The owner lived there and had a home on part of the property. We determined that about 9 acres of this property contained a forested swamp. With the correct adjustment, this property owner saves about $1,800 dollars per year.
Call us at (904) 384-7020 for a free consultation to see how you could possibly save money on your property taxes.