Shorefront developers and homeowners are now operating under new laws to protect water quality in New Hampshire’s lakes, rivers, and streams. Changes to the state’s Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act went into effect this month.
Some homeowners and builders say the tougher regulations are confusing and could make building anything more difficult and expensive. But others say the changes should have happened decades ago.
New Hampshire Public Radio’s Amy Quinton reports on how people are adapting to the new laws.
Paul Goodwin of Watermark Marine Construction scans the shore Governors’ Island on Lake Winnipesaukee.
As president of the New Hampshire Shorefront Association he’s become very familiar with the new regulations of the Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act.
A growing part of his business is coordinating permits for people looking to build near the water.
(:06 this year we’ll probably do over 100 wetlands permits and I’ll probably work on 50 shoreland permits.)
Such permits will be needed for most construction projects within 250 feet of the shore.
That’s the biggest change to the original 1991 act -- and Goodwin says the legwork involved in that will make building more difficult.
47 :25 (in order to file a permit now, we need to have all our eggs in one basket, one plan and in order to create that plan we need to bring a lot of different disciplines together)
Goodwin says many new projects will require , input from surveyors, engineers, landscapers, builders, and septic installers before the permit can even be filed.
47 1:00 (so that’s really bogged us down, and I don’t anticipate filing a permit for at least another three to four weeks, because it’s difficult to get everybody on the same page)
The new rules require all new buildings be setback at least 50 fifty feet from the shore.
Only 20-percent of a parcel can have impermeable surfaces, like driveways or buildings.
30-percent is permissible if stormwater runoff is managed.
DES Shoreland Section Supervisor Darlene Forst says rules on tree-cutting close to shore have changed as well.
65 1:17 “Within the first 50 feet it’s measured through a grid and point system, which establishes a minimum level of trees and saplings that should be maintained on the property.”
Under the old law, property owners had to count trees over a much larger area.
Now, trees are assigned points based on their size, and owners need to maintain 50 points worth of trees in a 50 foot grid.
There are also new rules on natural groundcover.
65 2:03 Depending on your lot size, 25-percent of the area on a smaller lot, if you can, needs to be left in an unaltered state.
More native vegetation is required for parcels larger than a half acre.
If that sounds like a lot of calculations – it is …and some property owners say it’s too overwhelming.
That’s Barbara Aichinger who owns lakefront property in Gilford.
(I’ve got these rules, I’m standing on my property, I have a friggin masters degree in engineering if I can’t figure it out, how do you expect these homeowners to figure it out
She also wonders how smaller homeowners –who may have an old camp - will pay for it.
19:25 it’s a guy named Chuck over on Black Cat Island who’s got .21 acres and a little tiny house that can’t afford that, now he can’t add value to his property, so in reality they have made the lakes only accessible to the wealthy.
The permit starts at a 100 dollar fee, with a maximum charge based on square footage of almost 4-thousand dollars.
A detailed survey can add thousands to that.
“9:20 a homeowner is going to have to determine if they’re capable or not of going through this process”
That’s Joe Skiffington, President of Skiffington Homes in Moultonborough.
He agrees there may be some unintended consequences of the legislation, but overall he favors changes.
Skiff 1a “when you see rainwater running off of a roof and then it hits a fertilized lawn or pavement and then it goes right out into the lake, that’s not a very good thing.”
That’s why DES officials are trying to educate as many homeowners as they can about the new changes.
(nat sound) 74
(I’m here to tell you about the changes to the comprehensive there’s a tremendous amount of confusion out there…)
DES’s Shoreland Protection Outreach Specialist Jay Aube gave an informational session at a recent Half Moon Lake Association meeting in Barnstead …
He spent a solid hour dispelling myths and discussing the regulations in detail.
He stressed that the rules do allow some flexibility.
78 7:59 any activity that doesn’t alter the footprint or impervious area of a structure does not need a shoreland permit.
Dead, diseased or dying trees can be removed without a shoreland permit – you can also trim or thin branches to protect structures or provide a view.
Barnstead property owner Mike Hurd walked away satisfied with the changes.
1:17 from what I’ve seen of these regulations should have been passed 25 years ago, hundreds of years ago, then you wouldn’t be dealing with septic systems dumping into lakes you wouldn’t be dealing with houses hanging over lakefronts and you wouldn’t be dealing with the kind of lunacy that is destroying the greatest natural resource this state has.”
But Hurd’s main concern is that new changes will be enforced.
83 3:05 what good is legislation if you don’t enforce it…
DES’s Darlene Forst insists they will.
69 :30 one of the goals of this program and something we’ve discussed from day one is that this permit will have no value unless it’s accompanied by follow up inspections.
The enforcement budget is supposed to come from permit fees.
The law calls for six additional staffers in the shoreland program.
So far, only two have been hired and DES has received fewer than 50 permits.
For NHPR news, I’m Amy Quinton.