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2018 Annual Meeting Saturday July 14, 2018


Shoreland zoning regulations

The Maine Shoreland Zoning Act was enacted in 1971 and has had many revisions since then. Note that more restrictive local zoning laws can be enacted by municipalities. Please see for the full description of the law, and check with your local town office for specifics for that town. In a nutshell: current state regulations require 200 of shore frontage, with that minimum extending to the 100 setback. Lot size must be a minimum of 40,000 square feet. Within the 100 setback buffer, no more than 40% of the total volume of trees over 4 inches in diameter may be harvested in any 10 year period. Vegetation less than 3 feet in height, including ground cover, cannot be removed. Pruning the lower 1/3 of tree branches within the buffer is permitted. This law focuses upon areas near great ponds, rivers and larger streams, coastal areas, and wetlands. The "Shoreland Zoning" law helps to prevent and control water pollution; to protect fish spawning grounds, bird and wildlife habitat; to project buildings and lands from flooding and accelerated erosion; to protect archeological and historic resources; to protect commercial fishing and maritime industries; to protect freshwater and coastal wetlands; to control building sites, placement of structures and land uses; to conserve shore cover, and visual as well as actual points of access to inland and coastal waters; to conserve natural beauty and open space; and to anticipate and respond to the impacts of development in shoreland areas. The Shoreland Zoning law requires that municipalities protect shoreland areas through adopting shoreland zoning maps and ordinances. Zoning ordinances provide for what types of activities can occur in certain areas. For example, they address building size and setbacks, and the establishment of resource protection, general development, residential, and other zones. Shoreland areas include areas within 250 feet of the normal high-water line of any great pond, river or saltwater body, areas within 250 feet of the upland edge of a coastal wetland, areas within 250 feet of the upland edge of a freshwater wetland except in certain situations, and areas within 75 feet of the high-water line of a stream. The law is primarily administered through each municipality, and the local code enforcement officer is usually the first point of contact on shoreland zoning issues. The MDEP also has a Shoreland Zoning Unit.

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