Lakeside Living

The Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Act:  Most land uses within 250 feet of Maine’s rivers, wetlands, lakes, ocean, and within 75 feet of certain streams are subject to the regulations of Maine’s Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Act.  The Law protects water quality, limits erosion, conserves wildlife and vegetation, and preserves the natural beauty of Maine’s shoreland areas.

There are numerous laws and regulations that waterfront property owners need to be aware of before altering the landscape, installing docks/decks or expanding structures. These regulations were implemented over the past 40+ years because of deteriorating water quality in many lakes due to uncontrolled development.  The Handbook for Shoreland Owners* was created by the Maine DEP to help landowners understand the State’s Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Act. *Note:  The Handbook for Shoreland Owners is for informational purposes only.  It explains the State’s Shoreland Zoning and Guidelines in words and pictures for shoreland owners’ reference.  It is not a substitute for the Law, the Guidelines or municipal Shoreland Zoning Ordinances.

These regulations achieved their aims to a large degree. The quality of new lakeshore development is far better than it was a generation ago.  However, the laws and regulations on shoreland development, even if fully enforced, are only a partial answer to the long-term protection of Maine’s lakes.  Hopes for reducing threats to water quality will depend on education and on building a stronger ethic of landowner responsibility.

Activities in the Shoreland Zone are regulated by each Town through its Code Enforcement Officer and the Planning Board.  The Maine DEP oversees the Town’s administration and enforcement of shoreland zoning but does NOT issue town permits under this statute.  For specific information about your Local Shoreland Zoning Ordinances, refer to your municipality:

Town of Hartford: Town of Turner:
-Hartford Shoreland Zoning Ordinance -Turner Zoning Ordinance
-Hartford Shoreland Permit Application -Turner Code Enforcement

The Natural Resources Protection Act:  Defines, more specifically, certain protected natural resources, especially water bodies and wildlife habitat. The law regulates work done in, over, or next to any body of water, as well as sand dunes, marshes and other wetlands, high mountain areas, and areas of designated significant wildlife habitat Regulated activities include soil disturbance by logging equipment, use of fill, stream or wetland crossings, and in some cases, clearing of vegetation for purposes other than forest management. In most cases, landowners conducting these activities must abide by certain standards and/or obtain a Department of Environmental Protection permit before beginning work.

Additional Links: Additional Resources (PDF’s):
Maine DEP: Shorefront Property Owner Information Homeowners Guide to Environmental Laws
Maine DEP: Lakes Division Statewide Standards for Timber Harvesting in Shoreland Areas
Timber Harvesting in Shoreland Areas Gravel Road Maintenance Manual
EPA: Office of Wetlands, Oceans & Watersheds (OWOW)
North American Lake Management Society
Maine IF&W: Fishing License Requirements & Fees
Maine IF&W: Boating Laws
Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program
Lakes of Maine
Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!
Maine Audubon