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It could drive developers out of business. I just wanna build houses.
Bob Rocco

Bob The Builder

The battle between land development and environmental conservation

Bob Rocco is a land developer in Central New York. He has operated heavy machinery since he was 18 years old. He now owns S&R Custom Homes, and since 2004, he's been developing Starlight Estates, in the town of Camillus.

So far, they have built about 50 apartments and 60 homes on the 98 acres of land they bought.
In his first year, he sold 32 homes. The next year, he sold 28. Each year, Rocco kept selling fewer and fewer homes until he bottomed out in 2009. However, that was three years ago. Today, S&R Custom Homes is still trucking along.

He says business is improving this year, however, it's only a fraction of what his business was like in 2004. Rocco says that he will be lucky to build eight or nine houses and that, for him, is a slow year.
To add to that problem, Rocco says he's running into a few more roadblocks that he feels, are starting to seep into the profit margin of his small business.

The regulations enforced on him by the Department of Environmental Conservation mandate weekly storm water and erosion inspections of his property. These inspections look for silt fences, having too many lawns exposed and cleaning out the man-made sediment ponds on his property.

Rocco estimates that it will cost him $50,000 to clean the sediment out of his ponds.
If he doesn't clean it, he's facing nearly $40,000 in fines.

All the government red tape that Rocco has to deal with hinders his production growth. With all these regulations, fees and a bad economy, the profit margins have been smaller, and he’s had to cut back on hired help, which means fewer jobs in the local job market.

“I just want to build houses,” said Rocco. “Just leave me alone I'll do what I gotta do, but it's not easy.”