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Small Project Waiver

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What Is It?

We restrict development in environmentally critical areas (ECAs) and areas around ECAs called buffers. Examples of ECAs include landslide-prone areas, wetlands, land next to rivers and streams (riparian corridors), and fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas.

A small project waiver allows you to do some ground disturbance for new small structures or additions to existing structures in ECAs and ECA buffers. Our waiver limits ground disturbance to:

  • Up to 150 square feet in riparian management areas (the land within 100 feet on either side of a water course) and wetland buffers
  • Up to 300 square feet in steep slope areas or buffers

These limits on the disturbance area include the excavation area needed for construction as well as the area of the proposed structure, including any eaves and overhangs. You must include any development since October 31, 1992 in the ground disturbance calculation for your proposed project. Once you reach the square footage maximum, you can’t develop in the ECA or buffer through the small project waiver process.

You can’t get a small project waiver for:

  • Peat-settlement prone areas, which are sites containing peat and organic soils that may settle when the area is developed or the water table is lowered
  • Shoreline habitat buffers
  • Retaining walls and rockeries in landslide-prone areas
  • Utilities

You must meet these criteria to qualify for a small project waiver:

  1. Your lot was a legal building site, in existence, before October 31, 1992
  2. The only place you can build your addition or structure on your lot is in the ECA or buffer
  3. Your project minimizes the impact on the ECA or buffer

Note: In landslide-prone areas, we may require a geotechnical report showing it is safe to build on your site.

How Much Does It Cost?

Fees for most small project waivers are based on our hourly review rate.

Steps to Get Your Waiver

When you submit your permit application, let us know if you are applying for a small project waiver. We determine if you qualify during the permit application review.

What Do You Want To Do?

Still Need Help?

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  • Call us at (206) 684-8850
  • Visit the Public Resource Center
    700 5th Avenue, 20th floor
    M, W, F: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
    T, Th: 10:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.