Building A Boat House On A Maine Lake, How’s That Shoreland Zoning Work?
The property on the Maine lake and what can you do to it if you buy it?
Valuable information and involves a crash course on shoreland zoning in Maine lake properties. The 250 foot shoreland zoning strip around Maine’s waterfront is a sacred designation. No one wants to knowingly hurt the waterfront habitat and should be sensitive to why the regulations are in place. Because no protection of the Maine lake natural resource and there won’t be anything worthwhile to pass on to the next generation.
Being a good steward and respecting the lake water quality and development around the waterfront isn’t something you just know as a young grasshopper. It is taught through example by whoever owns and protects the shoreland zone around a Maine lake. They teach who they pass the property to the respect for the natural habitat. To tread lightly.
So boat houses on a Maine lake, can you put up one to get the watercraft under cover? If there was no boathouse on the shoreland you are about to purchase, there is no grandfathered structure to preserve and improve. The boat house on the Maine lake was a structure in place before the shoreland zoning was set up and the rules and regulations were drafted into law.
So what if there is a leaning, sorry looking boat house that someone put into play out front of the cottage or lake front camp or home?
The mandatory shoreland zoning act of Maine was put into play in 1971. And steadily the protection regulations for Maine waterfront properties have been beefed up, better defined by the state. With local municipalities adding their own added regulations above and beyond the Maine shoreland zoning law.
I tell someone as a Maine real estate broker to not tear down or remove the existing boat house on the shoreline of a lake without getting the local town officials involved.
Document what you are going to do with date, times, paperwork copies of all correspondence. Talking to the code enforcement officer before you get out the hammer and nails is wise. Partner up with that individual who often in small Maine towns wears the same hat in many of the municipalities lucky enough to have lake, river, pond, ocean or any waterfront resources within the town or plantation limits.
Many boat houses have iron rails that extend into the Maine lake water.
To create a cradle to carry the boat up and into them to protect from the weather. To get them up and out of the water, safe and secured inside a lakeside “garage”. To avoid having to hook onto a boat trailer, haul it to expensive storage. And reverse the process the following spring to truck it back to the Maine lake. To re-float that boat.
In addition to structures like a boat house, other factors for changing the existing property have to be considered.
How high is the improvement, how much of the lot is affected by the size of the modification of say an addition.
And set backs from the property lines, distances from the well and septic system have to be calculated to make sure everything fits. And meets the requirements of the shoreland zoning regulations guiding the process.
What if there are trees on the portion of lake lot in Maine you want to modify? Oh oh, there are clearly defined standards for clearing the lot on a Maine lake too. To use as a guide for clearing vegetation, removal of trees and adding fill. Buffers along the shoreline help water from racing to the lake’s edge and dumping in contaminants of soil and other debris. If a Maine fish could talk, it would say it is not fond of lawns, of weed and feed or development along the shoreline where the bird’s it nests.
If the structure is on a non conforming lot, and the set back required for new buildings is possible.For starters, What is a non-conforming shoreland zoning structure? It is one that does not meet one or more of the following requirements. The shoreline setback (including setbacks from tributary streams), the height, or lot coverage. It is allowed to remain in place solely because it was in lawful existence at the time the ordinance or subsequent amendments took effect.