About every other phone call I receive concerning a buyer’s interest in purchasing raw land includes the desire to have a creek or pond or some type of surface water on the property. I certainly understand that desire, since the presence of surface water can have great cosmetic and psychological advantages. What seems like an advantage to some people though, may be a curse in the long run. Usually when there is running or pooled water on a property there are inherent development issues. Sure, it is good to know that wildlife will be attracted to those areas and an owner may be able to catch a fish periodically,… but every blessing has a responsibility!
If you plan to build a home on a property with wetlands, one must consider some of the issues associated with that development such as; wetlands buffers and riparian management zones, standing water or flooding issues, flood insurance and whether or not you would be able to construct a septic system that would work. Each project usually requires a site analysis by a governmental agency and could be subject to further review by a wetlands biologist, with strict conditions imposed.
Some people purchase timbered property with the intent to log and use the proceeds to offset development costs, but they sometimes fail to consider that the presence of a stream or wetlands may curtail or diminish the intended revenue. Forest Practice rules limit or prohibit cutting of trees inside specified riparian management zones, which could be up to 200 feet buffers depending on the type of stream and whether it supports fish or not. The general principle is that riparian management zones are intended to provide a filter to protect stream quality. Other wetlands have similar criteria for the very same reason. Road building or construction and even driving machinery in these zones is limited or prohibited.
Costs to develop or maintain properties with water can be an issue too. Septic systems require certain types of soil to function properly, consequently rules for areas with high ground water or seasonal ebb and flow of ground water may forbid installation or require enhancements that are very expensive. River bottoms and creeks are typically described as flood zones which could increase monthly insurance premiums by $200 or more. Before you purchase, consider the blessings and the curse first!