Project Permitting: Planning for the Paperwork

Planning a new construction project is a complicated matter that involves coordinating with many different agencies, design consultants, financiers, regulators, and other stakeholders. It's neither feasible nor timely to try and complete all necessary requirements one-by-one. As such, developers often work to accomplish the myriad of necessary tasks concurrently and manage competing requirements as they arise. One of the earlier tasks is to ensure that the proposed project obtains all the necessary permits prior to beginning construction.

When it comes to permitting there are dozens that a developer may need to apply for. Typically applying for a permit involves a review of the development plans by the agency that is issuing the permit. Almost all agencies have required response times that are publicized on their websites. These response times (14, 30, 60, and even 180 days) can help the developer plan how much time may be required before construction can begin. During the response window the agency is reviewing and evaluating the development plans. Long delays are possible if the plans are deficient or if there are public notification requirements. Below is a list of just a few of the most common permits that construction projects typically require and the issuing agency.

Waters of the United States

  • Rivers and Harbors Act: Section 10 - US Army Corps of Engineers
  • Clean Water Act: Section 404 - US Army Corps of Engineers
  • Clean Water Act: Section 401 Certification - Ohio EPA

General Construction Activity

  • NPDES Notice of Intent - Ohio EPA
  • Demolition Permit - Local Municipality
  • Tree Clearing Permit - Local Municipality
  • Construction Permit - Local Municipality


  • Sewer Installation - Local Municipality and/or Regional Sewer District
  • Sanitary Sewer Installation - Local Municipality and/or Ohio EPA
  • Water Service Installation - Local Municipality and/or Ohio EPA
  • Maintenance of Traffic / Road Closure - Local Municipality


  • Historic District, Design Review Board
  • Re-zoning, Zoning Variance
  • Change of Use

Unfortunately, developers sometimes either neglect or forget to obtain all the necessary permits. This oversight will cause the project to be delayed; wasting time and resources. A smart developer recognizes the importance of having all the appropriate permits approved prior to mobilizing for construction and will assemble a good team to ensure the task is accomplished. The team should identify the planned ground-breaking date and work backward laying-out a synchronization matrix with all the necessary permits and associated times.

At Cuyahoga SWCD we do not issue permits. Our part in project permitting is to review the storm water pollution prevention plan (SWP3) on behalf of our partner communities. Part of conducting a SWP3 review is to cross-check and to ensure that storm water related permits have been obtained prior to recommending approval of the project.

To learn more about wetland permitting visit the USEPA or USACE or Ohio EPA.

Contact Brent Eysenbach, Storm Water Program Coordinator if you have any questions or comments related to this blog.

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