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Buying The Waterfront Property In Maine Next To You, Oh Oh.

Buying The Waterfront Property In Maine Next To You, Oh Oh.


The chance to buy a neighboring waterfront property in Maine.

Something to add to whatever you already own located next to you comes up. And shoreland zoning considerations enter the room conversation.

Like a NASA countdown pre-flight systems check, what you are about buy and how needs to be addressed carefully. With eyes wide open and the best laid plan hammered out. To proceed slowly and put into play before the actual sit down and let’s have a real estate closing.lake waterfront sunset photo

Because how you merge the properties legally will impact forever if you can ever convey part of it on to a loved one or sell it off at all down the line.

When the real estate for sale is lucky enough to fall into a shore land zoning region in Maine, a big overhead crane lowers a more protective set of regulations.

To guide what does or does not happen to the real estate next to the water.

It lays a big protective template over the region 250′ back from the waterfront.

In this case where a lake ends and the land out front of the cottage and extra lot begins.

The purpose of the shore land zoning law was to help assure the water quality of the precious natural resource that Maine is so fiercely protective of and that needs extra scrutiny.

When development around the waterfront is entertained.

Or existing properties next to the water are modified and what you can and can not do is not left up to the the owner’s imagination. Or the township or plantation or unorganized location in Maine’s code enforcement officer has clear cut guidelines to go by.

Protecting the location of buildings, septic systems, landscaping in new construction ties in with soil erosion which effects the water quality for the fish and other aquatic wildlife that depend on it for survival.

If a fish could talk 99% of them would gurgle that none like weed and feed on lawns, pressure treated wharves and decking or anything that lets ground water around the waterfront race and dump into the natural resource.lake waterfront view photo

Vegetation, riparian buffers along the shoreline is the best practice, not crew cutting the protective growth.

Especially is there is one big hill between where you build and down low by the water.

Water racing, erosion pulls all that contamination into the drink. 

Cutting operations of timber tracts and wood lots miles away help or hurt the waterfront too that Maine is fortunate to have a big supply of for all to enjoy. For years to come if care is applied. To what you can do with existing buildings in an expansion or repair that needs review, guided by a set of rules all can oo by.

More on the shore land zoning regulations in Maine.

The development and use of the waterfront property is controlled for waterfront protection by shore land zoning. And there is a legal component that you need to be aware of when buying a neighboring waterfront real estate property. The shore land zoning regulations first drafted back in 1971 have evolved.

Minimum lot size, how big a place you can build if an addition is something you need, how much of an empty wooded lot can you legally clear. This is heavy duty stuff the Department Of Environmental Protect oversees, helps the local code enforcement official for a municipality figure out. More on cutting, clearing waterfront lots in Maine.maine loons on waterfront photo

Just like how long a dock can be, and the maximum of 6′ foot wide standard.

Common sense is used if you own property with 120′ foot out gets you deep enough water to bring in a boat without getting fetched up on the bottom of the Maine lake.

So nothing in the state standards about limits to say 20′ or 30′ foot and only the town can add to the difficulty above and beyond.

You have to have it made and used for temporary because winter ice would destroy it if you did not. You don’t mess with and work hand in hand with Mother Nature, her side kick Jack Frost. Always thinking of the wildlife, preserving the precious natural resource that is passed on in as good or hopefully better shape to the next generation. 

Permits for retainer wall repair, how much you can have for impervious surfaces and how to measure the expansion square footage and knowing the distance from the lake minimum in a shore land protected zone is measure not from the foundation but closest point.

That could be a deck, patio, a roof overhang and straight out, not down a hill if there is an incline. There is math involved in figuring out how to use non-comforming but legal lots and the rest of the waterfront parcels of land and improvements is any on them. ice fishing waterfront photo

The lots around a Maine lake or pond or river may have been made a 100′ wide to maximize the number created for more return on the sale for the original waterfront property owner. Those lots kept single are able to be developed as long as the septic systems, well locations and set backs from all the four side lines dove tail and play well with existing shore land zoning rules and regulations.

But if a new lot is created today from a larger parcel, then the local municipality and shore land zoning both want to see a 200′ wide frontage one made.

So the extra 100′ wide lot purchased for protection from neighbors reaching out and being too close and personal is bought. Maybe with the thought someday one of the kids will want to build their own place by the water. And it could be used for over flow from the family compound you create for fun and memories by the waterfront. You thought, dreamed about as you purchased the lot for that very purpose and intention to build someday.

The merger takes away that option when the two become one. And oh oh, when the time to say let’s put them back the way they were and split them up again happens. So if you talk with your local attorney, if there is not another person’s name to consider putting on the title to the property, creating an LLC is an option.

Talk to you legal beagle about LLC’s as one option to keep the two neighboring waterfront properties apart legally. 

LLC’s usually are thought of primarily to protect a person or company from legal exposure or financial risk. But can come in handy when you want to avoid the complications caused when merging lots in shore land zoning protected areas of Maine.

Why would combining the lots you can not pull apart again matter? Because of resale and knowing one waterfront property can be pricey enough to swing for the buyer and adding two or more dwellings on one big piece of land works well for the Bushes at Walker’s Point Kennebunkport Maine family compound.

But not for the average guy who says pass, too rich for my blood. When it becomes take it or leave it, buy it all or nothing at all for the too big to chew on piece of waterfront real estate for sale.maine waterfront lake mist photo

One of the first rules in real estate sales is the higher the price, the thinner the buyers.

Less property buyers means longer, harder sales and for less money in the long run.

So keep your finger on the game piece and don’t remove it in the legal transfer until all the what if’s are discussed with your legal representative.

Limited use of a property hurts the value and full enjoyment of it.

All that has to be kept in mind going in rather than learning the hard way when options are very few in number or don’t exist at all.

Waterfront property in Maine, once you own it lots of questions come up about again how long can my dock be, can I clear vegetation, add a deck, expand or relocate, etc.

And the DEP chapter 1000 guidelines do not regulate septic systems. That is health and human services matter. Tap out the phone number or dial your own rotary to locate the closet site evaluation soil tester in Maine for will it or won’t it be buildable and let’s study the HHE 200 septic system plan.

To see if you have enough for the wastewater disposal system for black and gray water.  And if your leach field was designed for seasonal use and for two bedrooms, a conversion permit to see if it will handle the pressures of year round use and those two extra bedrooms you want to add on when you retire are very very loose ends.

All of this paperwork and site review, building plans, plot designs has to be run by the local code enforcement folks in the municipality where the waterfront property in Maine is located.

Get them involved early on as a working partner to avoid expensive fines, short temper flare ups when what you thought was legal or all you needed comes up short. Tearing down a structure or improvement is a sick feeling that did not have to happen.

Don’t be the next one that the town and “lake police” throw the book at to make an example to stop the illegal activity.

It is a lot better working with the local officials or powers to be before rather than after the fact. Severe penalties can happen because you did not consult with the local shore land zoning handbook and the folks who enforce the regulations on the state and local level.

I’m Maine REALTOR Andrew Mooers, ME Broker

207.532.6573 | [email protected]

MOOERS REATY 69 North Street Houlton Maine 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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