You are reading this blog because you have an interest in owning waterfront property in New York, or building your own private dock or pier. This article will tell you everything you need to know about a dock permit or some other marine structures in Suffolk County.

Under the Riparian Law, Waterfront property owners have the right to build a structure that could include a boathouse or a wharf (a dock or pier) where a boat can moor or an area for fishing or any other activity related to their use and enjoyment of the water.

Pay attention to non-conforming structure

If an existing dock or marine structure does not conform to the design according to your permit, you could be forced to demolish the non-conforming structure in case a dispute arises with a neighbor or government agency.

Environmental conformity

You may not be allowed to construct any marine structure after you close your deal for what you thought to be magnificent waterfront property.

Why is it so? Seagrasses are protected in outstanding waters. They are provided greater protection under New York state law since the passage of the Warren HendersonWetlands Protection Act of 1984.

There are many agencies which claim jurisdiction over marine construction projects in Suffolk County. You should check with all of them when conducting due diligence on waterfront real estate.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the federal agency that regulates construction on or near the nation’s navigable waters. They are however mostly concerned with larger projects while construction permits sought by individual property owners fall under the State Programmatic General Permit Program which allows state agencies to approve projects on behalf of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The agency granted that authority in Suffolk County is the Suffolk County Division of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

Suffolk County Division of Environmental Quality

DEQ programs and regulations are designed to safeguard the state’s natural resources. The agency regulates permits and compliance activities that protect water and air quality and waste clean-ups.

The most common marine construction permit sought in Suffolk County is the Single-Family Dock.

If your dock meets the following three criteria, then your dock is exempted from State and Federal permitting:

  1. The dock is 1000sqft or less.
  2. The dock is located outside of protected waters.
  3. The dock is used for non-commercial purpose.

Thus, repairs or replacement of an existing permitted dock is also exempted.

To visit the DEQ website and learn more about their process (click here)

The DEQ issues permit for projects within wetlands and surface waters. To learn more about Wetlands and how they could impact your marine construction project, check out this open data source, New York State: Freshwater Wetlands. It contains everything you should know about wetlands in Suffolk County, New York.

Wetlands typically lie between the body of water and the upland lot as a sort of transition zone, and they are generally found on many waterfront properties. So, if you are considering to construct a dock in that particular area, it would have to be built over the wetlands to reach deep water.

  • Picture of a dock built over an area of wetlands with tall grasses

If your construction impacts wetlands, then you should, first of all, acquire your permit from the appropriate Water Management District.

Suffolk County, like all other counties and municipalities, have their ordinances regarding marine construction projects and wetlands.

Local Government and Dock Permit

Your county is likely to be the only one who directly oversees the construction process.

The Corps and DEQ usually visit only a small percentage of projects to ensure their level of conformity. The local government will follow all projects from beginning to completion once the construction permit has been granted.

It is unfortunately at this point that people start facing stress as even seemingly small projects are not approved, because they impact designated wetlands. Nobody can avoid the administrative formalities, hence contacting your local county is undeniably the first place to start in the process of getting a permit for the construction of a marine structure.

If you have concerns about a marine structure, it may save you a great deal of time and hassle to work with a local contractor who can be of service. Tide Water Dock Building has over 40 years of experience and undergoes proper research before diving into any work. They specialize in all types of marine construction and coastal planting in Suffolk County. Their highly experienced team is proficient in the installation and maintenance of bulkheads, floating docks, seawalls, and more.

Hope the above helps you to construct a marine structure.