Building On A Maine Lake, Waterfront Shoreland Zoning Do’s, Don’ts, Regulations.
I remember when shoreland zoning in Maine was first tightening up, getting serious about protecting lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, the ocean and wetland here in Vacationland. 1972 was a magic date for setting up the rules, shoreland in Maine regulations.
About the same time minimum lot sizes, plumbing codes got beefed up and what you could do or not do around a Maine lake was discussed, hashed out, put on paper, kicked in to law.
Maine’s shoreland zoning administered by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection Agency (DEP), the Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC), and local towns themselves around the waterbodies actually made the process of development around Maine’s lakes, rivers, etc streamlined. Defined, so that inconsistencies and lots of local hub bub, hooplah is lessened. Don’t get me wrong, there is always the guy who back in the 1960’s cleared the rocks 20 feet out in front of the lake cottage he has in Maine with a farm tractor, a back hoe. Creating a giant mud, silt plume and disturbing the shoreline, the natural balace of the vegetation, wildlife along that beach front. Man made and played with. I remember a local cottage owner being spotted from the air by local Maine environmental authorities and he was the first example publically brought to task when returning to the “beach front improvement” on his own, sans permits or permission. His defense that for years he had done this, this and this. Not anymore sailor.
For a time the penalty for over removal within the first 75 and then 100 feet of the shoreline along a Maine waterbody, the waterfront was replanting in more strategic spots, a small fine.
I remember a local real estate buyers on Grand Lake in Danforth Maine saying with a smile, I got rid of the trees obstructing the view and put the same number back in but where I wanted them and only a small fine.
Now shorelines on many lakes have been videoed and local lake association in Maine watch, protect, police the property development around those lakes, ponds, etc. Giving the waterfront property in Maine to your kids, the next generation in as good or better shape or condition is the basis of stewardship. Respect for a lake, and selfishly protecting the value of that Maine waterfront property, the investment.
Expansion of no more than 30% of the original footprint and how to calculate it because a thorn, and subject to lengthy debates on little Maine lake, ponds, rivers, oceanfront, etc. Local code enforcement officers that in a small rural in nature, population state like Maine assumed the helm of many towns on a part time, shared basis. Keeping up with Maine shoreland zoning regulations, changes for a one man or one woman small town office and its selectmen was overwhelming. In many cases these muncipal jobs held on a part time basis. And because of the friction and being the lake police so to speak, the burn out factor to keep track of violations, like whether that new deck is bigger than the one on the old Maine cottage. Or now, or ever did that original camp even have a deck becomes the day to day buzz around these small town offices. 250′ feet back from the waterfrontage is the shoreland zoning extra protection zone in Maine.
I am president of the Drews Lake Property Owners Association, a member of the Maine Congress of Lakes Assocation and enjoy keeping local lakes clean, free of milfoil, protected from soil erosion and silt that chokes fish. If you were a Maine lake, could talk, you would gurgle a reminder that you and your buddies hate lawns. Weed and feed and competition for who’s lawn is the greenest, most golf course like means phosphorous, fertilizer heading in to the lake, causing algae blooms, lots of vegetation and weeds growing out front in the water in places where you never had vegetation before. Ground water run off from your lot is not suppose to race to the lake, picking up silt and debris, causing erosion along the way either. Lakes hate lawns. So do the wildlife that we here first but that will leave, disappear if the Maine waterfront resource is not protected, preserved.