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"Piering" Over the Dock Rules

A Summary of Waterford's Dock Guidelines

by John Bell, Waterford's Code Enforcement Officer

Like most rules and laws, the need for these originated from just a few incidents where people were – inadvertently in most cases - not considerate of others. Docks were placed too close to a neighbor’s property, angled in front of the neighbor’s property, or extended out so far that they hindered other boaters' access. These guidelines are intended to help prevent these situations:

  1. Keep your new dock to a reasonable length. It should provide you with access to the lake but not infringe on anyone else’s access or enjoyment of the lake. Under no circumstances should the dock exceed 100’ or a third of the distance to the opposite shore (in narrow areas), whichever is less.

  2. Width of the dock is regulated by State laws which limit it to a maximum of 6 feet. This law is enforced by the Code Enforcement Officer (CEO).

  3. As with length, placement of the dock should be done in a manner that does not interfere with the neighbor’s enjoyment of their property. Place it at least 5’ from the boundary line and angle it so that it does not get any closer to the neighbor’s property. Consideration should be your guide.

  4. A permit is required for a new dock or an expansion of an existing dock. Permit applications are available on the website or can be picked up at the town office. The permit fee is $25. The purpose of the permit system is to avoid the types of incidents that necessitated these rules. It provides an opportunity for the CEO to communicate with the landowner about what they are planning and to discuss any potential violation of these guidelines before they happen.


Waterford’s dock guidelines also incorporate rules from our Shoreland Zoning ordinance that are applicable to docks:

  1. Docks must be removed by November 1. When removed in the fall, they should be placed on a footpath, driveway, or other non-vegetated area. They should not be placed on vegetation within the 100’ buffer.

  2. There is no frontage requirement for one dock. However if you want to have more than one dock, you must have 200’ of shore frontage per dock.


Q: Can I have a 12’ x 12’ sitting area at the end of my dock?

A: No. State law requires docks be no wider than 6’. You can have an ‘L’ or ‘T’ configuration at the end of your dock, but it must be comprised of sections no wider than 6'.

Q. Can I have a swim float as well as a dock?

A: Yes. Our guidelines do not address swim floats but the State requires that they be within 200’ of the shoreline and the combined (dock + float) area cannot exceed 500 square feet and again, let consideration be your guide. Do not locate it in front of someone else’s property or in the way of boat traffic, and don’t make it any larger than necessary.  

Q: Can I use pressure treated lumber to build my dock?    

A:   It is discouraged but not prohibited. There are better products out there that will last longer, are lighter, and are safer for the fish, lake, and users of the dock (there can be health risks associated with skin contact). Check with your lumber yard for available materials.

Q: Are there any other construction requirements?

No. But if you are considering building it yourself and don’t really know what you are doing, I would just say that a dock is a dangerous place for poor construction.

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