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Maine Shoreland Zoning, Expansion Of Waterfront Properties.

Maine Shoreland Zoning, Expansion Of Waterfront Properties.

Adding on, how much bigger can I make, say, a Maine lake camp when converting to year round home?

Before Maine Shoreland Zoning regulations, requirements were hammered out, it was go for it. Do whatever fits your fancy on the Maine waterfront. Have fun. No rules, restrictions.

No thirty percent expansion rule, for adding on, building over like enforced today.

No lingo, gargon about conforming, non conforming waterfront property uses around the shoreland.  It was also mostly camps, cabins by the waterfront.

Used sparingly and with less impact, fewer people in general around the Northern Maine lake locations especially.

Septic systems on Maine lake camps were primitive, home made, very simple.

Maybe a 300 gallon metal tank that went that away, somewhere, I think. Uncle Bob put in a trench with inverted “V” of hemlock planking over the trench drain of rocks. Of a 55 gallon drum for the toilet was where things disappeared into the ground.

The bathtub was grab a bar of Ivory soap (because it floats). And head to the big bathtub out front. Into the lake for your Saturday night ritual of scrubby dub dub. There was a hole dug, filled with rock, stone for the gray water drain of the kitchen sink.

When not used round the clock, it worked for the Maine shoreland waterfront property used at different seasons for short stints.

But that limited use changed. The rules of Maine Shoreland Zoning tightened up too. The use of the place by the water until the owner today wants to expand was not a concern. The way it was meant grandfathered in.

The rules of what you can and can not do around the Maine waterfront today were not written when the original place by the lake was put up.

No paperwork to enforce when the lake in maine mist island photosimple Maine lake or river, brook, pond or ocean front camp was hammed and nailed, put up.

Often the Maine lake cottage thrown together with odds and ends of recycled materials.

Whatever was kicking around up over the garage. In someone’s shed or barn.

Given to you by a friend or neighbor, another family member.

Because the lake camp, cabin owner was struggling to pay off his real Maine home somewhere else.

The Maine lake owner used what he could scrounge up as a self taught carpenter, plumber, electrician all rolled up into one nothing hired out adventure.

Or nightmare for the next owner to untangle, sort out, rebuild or tear down for the spot. Where it was located close to the Maine lake, not what it was.

Really could not afford a second home on the Maine waterfront. And how it was built, snapped together illustrates that point bluntly. It’s just a camp on a Maine lake right? The fun was outdoors, not indoors. It’s what some would term a simple, basic not elegant shack.

But one built right on the edge of the Maine lake or whatever waterfront location back when you could.

The location before elaborate roadways for access built was not used enough. To warrant further attention to adding more creature comforts like a home requires.lake sunset photo

So now the time has come for it’s “make that simple Maine lake camp or cottage” into a full or part time home on the waterfront.

For starters, a plumbing code conversion permit is the first step in the expansion, adding on to the Maine lake recreational center.

The septic system that is at the existing Maine lake camp, cottage, cabin needs to be able to handle the pressures of everyday use.

Not just seasonal, sporadic hit or miss use of the property.

Especially if rented out round the clock, through out the year. Which means protect the Maine lake from those full time, lots of people using it. The wear and tear on the Maine waterfront natural resource outfront.

Washer machines, teenage long showers, day in and out of water being flushed, drained down into the septic system from the Maine lake property.

It is not the number of bathrooms. The number of bedrooms in the facility triggers the design and size of the leachfield servicing the Maine waterfront home. Updates to whatever was there has to happen.

But the teenie, tiny small lot, proximity to a neighbor’s well, another septic system or the property waterfront property’s boundary lines makes it tight. Or necessary to build engineered mound systems with sewerage pumps. Infilitrators in the leachfield layout plan.

Called an HHE 200 subsurface wastewater disposal soil test design. To show the distances, the layout of what is needed to match the use, the size of the expansion on the Maine waterfront. Considering everything going on with neigboring properties, the lake view in maine camp photoshoreland zoning in Maine setbacks.

With new construction on vacant lots along the Maine waterfront it is 100′ feet back or more to build.

As a minimum to build, for septic system property placement.

And Maine shoreland zoning conformance.

Shoreland zoning itself applies to the strip of land 250′ back from the water.

And the structures built, placed on that waterfront lot or acreage in Maine. Ones in place before regulations were written are considered to be in non conforming shoreland zoning areas closer than 100′ feet back from the lake.

In adding on, it’s the thirty percent expansion rule on the Maine waterfront property. 
A non-conforming structure that existed on January 1, 1989 may beice fishing on maine lake photo
expanded by less than 30% during the remainder of its lifetime.
The 30% for expanding, adding on to a Maine lake camp is based on both the floor area.
It’s also all about the volume of the structure. What existed back on January 1, 1989.
But only applies to the part of the building
that is within the required setback from the Maine waterfront.If back further than 250′ have fun.
Make it a McMansion back off the lake if you want. But just not in the shoreland zone.
The “floor area” in expansion, building verbage in the regulations includes all floors, porches, and decks too.The  “volume” includes spaces that are within the roof and fixed exterior walls.

Here is the Maine shoreland zoning handbook. The best advice is besides the current state regulations on the waterfront, check with the muncipality to see if in addtion, more beefed up, stricter regulations apply.

Local zoning boards, code enforcement agencies are continually adding more language and protective wordage in the shoreland zoning regulations. To protect the resource, pass it on to our kids in as good or hopefully better condition that we were lucky to receive it.

Working with the planning board, code enforcement folks going in, right up front. Partnering with them works best to understand, comply with Maine shoreland zoning regulations in your expansion of what is already there.

Saves tearing off improvements that are not allowed when fined later for not following, abiding by the shoreland zoning rules. Moving the existing camp that is destined to become a home back from the non conforming zone, less than 100′ from the water’s high water mark is the goal to protect the lake.

Everything in it, around it for wildlife, fish and unspoiled water quality to enhance the enjoyment, protect the value of the Maine waterfront real estate property.

I’m Maine REALTOR Andrew Mooers, ME Broker

207.532.6573  |  [email protected]   | 

MOOERS REALTY 69 North Street Houlton ME 04730




Andrew Mooers

Welcome to our Maine real estate website. I am the father of four grown children, have listed, marketed, sold properties for over forty years. Lots of changes in the real estate industry over that many decades and daily we re-invent our job. I grew up on a Maine farm that I bought from by three older brothers. My youngest son continues in the tradition on that same Maine farm. Here to help with property searches for homes, farms, land, waterfront, multi housing rentals, small mom and pop business listings.

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