Piers

Typical Projects

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Piers

Piers are a standard feature on urban waterfronts, providing access to boats and recreational and commercial maritime activities. But from an environmental perspective, there is evidence that piers and docks reduce light penetration, alter patterns of water flow, and negatively impact marine life.

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The permitting of small residential piers meeting certain requirements can be expedited through the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation through a Standard Activity Permit. Application requirements for construction of piers for boat docking are provided in this section.

Piers Project Details

Permits You’ll Need

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps)

Permits needed

An individual permit is required

First steps

Submit a Joint Application with required Army Corps materials

Learn more: Army Corps permitting

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC)

Permits needed

Some combination of the following NYS DEC permits are generally required for pier construction projects:

  • Tidal Wetlands or Freshwater Wetlands
  • Protection of Waters – Excavation & Fill in Navigable Waters
  • Section 401 – Clean Water Act – Water Quality Certification
  • Coastal Erosion Hazard Area – depending on location

Projects compatible with Standard Activity Permit (SAP) review:

The easiest and most efficient path to obtaining a permit is the submission of an application for a project that is designed to be compatible with NYS DEC policies and land use regulations. NYS DEC has identified waterfront activities that conform to agency standards as Standard Activity Permits (SAPs). Residential pier projects where the scope is limited to an open pile catwalk or pier up to 50 feet in length and no more than 4 feet wide are compatible with agency (NYSDEC) policies and land use regulations, and are therefore classified for review as a Standard Activity Permit.

First steps:

  1. Obtain or update an existing site conditions map or property/site survey of the property. See NYS DEC’s Drawing Checklist for Pier Projects for recommended survey content.
  2. Check on the legal status of all existing shoreline structures and resolve outstanding issues/disputes.
  3. Submit a Joint Application with required NYS DEC materials. To find out what to include in the application, see DEC’s Waterfront Activities Application Checklist. If you believe you qualify for a Standard Activity Permit, include a cover letter with your application stating so. Note that application document and drawing requirements are the same for all pier projects, regardless of SAP status.

Learn more: NYS DEC permitting

New York State Department of State (NYS DOS)

Review needed

A NYS DOS federal consistency review is required for new pier construction

First steps

Submit a Joint Application with required NYS DOS materials

Learn more: NYS DOS Coastal Management Program

New York City Department of City Planning (NYC DCP)

Review needed

A Waterfront Revitalization Program (WRP) consistency review is required for new pier construction

First steps

Submit a Joint Application with required NYC DCP materials

Learn more: NYC DCP Waterfront Revitalization Program

Related Permits

Related Permits

Pier projects may require other permits, such as:

  • Waterfront Construction Work Permit – NYC Dept. of Small Business Services

For more information, see Related Permits

Project-Specific Requirements

Overall Project Guidelines

  • Any docks/piers/catwalks that pass through a vegetated wetland to access a float should be constructed at an elevation of 4.5 feet over grade.
  • Any docks extending into navigable waters should not extend beyond 25% of the width of the waterway (including the width/length of boats moored at the structure) to allow for safe navigation.]
  • Fixed structures and piers where boats are moored should be located in a minimum water depth of -2.5 feet at Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW). It’s essential that you accurately determine water depth at your proposed site.
    • All depths must be certified and prepared by a NYS licensed Land Survey using either a standard bathymetric survey method, or measurements taken at MLLW with a sounding pole or survey rod.

Project Description

Your project description must explain why it is necessary to build in the chosen area, and include:

  • A long-term maintenance program
  • Proof that the construction of the pier/dock is not likely to cause any measurable increase in erosion at the development site or other location; and that it prevents or minimizes adverse effects to natural protective features, existing erosion protection structures, and natural resources such as significant fish and wildlife habitats.

Guidelines on Drawing Information/Content for Pier Projects

NYS DEC’s Drawing Checklist for Piers (Dock) Projects for a list of what to include on each drawing listed below:

  • Drawing Set Cover Sheet (recommended for projects with numerous drawings)
  • Site Location & Vicinity Map
  • Site Photos and Photo Location Map
  • Existing Site Conditions Map
  • Proposed Site/Project Plan
  • Cross Sections and Details

Supplement Form for Larger Pier Projects

A Dock Application Supplement Form D-2 is required by DEC for:

  • Floating dockage of more than five boats
  • Facility perimeter over 4,000 square feet

Agency Contacts

Army Corps

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NY District
Regulatory Branch, Room 1937
26 Federal Plaza
New York, NY 10278-0090

Phone: (917) 790-8511
Fax: (212) 264-4260

NYS DEC

Regional Permit Administrator
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Region 2
1 Hunter’s Point Plaza
47-40 21st Street
Long Island City, NY 11101-5401

Email: [email protected]
Phone: (718) 482-4997
Fax: (718) 482-4975

NYS DOS

Consistency Review Unit
Office of Planning and Development
New York State Department of State
Suite 1010
99 Washington Avenue
One Commerce Place
Albany, NY 12231-0001

Email: [email protected]
Phone (518) 474-6000
Alternate: (518) 474-6572

NYC DCP

Michael Marrella
Director of Waterfront and Open Space
New York City Department of City Planning
120 Broadway, 31st Floor
New York, NY 10271

Email: [email protected]
Phone (212) 720-3626

Resources

Extract:
Tidal Wetlands Guidance Document: Residential Catwalks and Docks
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Permitting guidance on standards for residential open pile catwalks and docks