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Shoreland Zoning

Maine enacted the Mandatory Shoreline Zoning Act (MSZA) in 1971 and amended it 2015 and 2017.  Originally put in place to protect both the water and the wildlife around ponds, rivers, and wetlands, the amendments further clarify issues that have arisen since the original MSZA.  For clarification, the shoreland zone is all land areas within 250 feet, horizontal distance of the normal, high-water line of any pond or river.

Full details of the MSZA can be found on the Maine Department of Environmental Protection website.  Key elements of the Act include:

  • Measuring:  The starting point for the 250' measurement is determined by locating the line, due to prolonged water exposure, that is apparent in the soil or on the rocks.  On Keoka, this line is easily viewed on the rocks that rim the lake.  More...

  • Clearing Vegetation:  The Guidelines limit the amount of vegetation that can be cut in the shoreland zone.  Generally, in the first 75' buffer strip, 40% of the trees four inches or more (measured 4 1/2' above ground level) can be removed in any 10-year period.  No "clear-cut" openings are permitted.  Before clearing vegetation landowners should check with the Waterford Code Enforcement Officer.  More...

  • Restoration:  Violations of the MSZA, including cutting trees, includes replacement of each tree and fines.  More...

The state provides a model ordinance to towns the includes:

  • Minimum lot frontage,

  • Structure setbacks,

  • Clearing limitations,

  • Timber harvesting limitations,

  • Erosion and sedimentation control,

  • Sewage disposal, and

  • Provisions for non-conforming issues.

You should always check with the Town Office before beginning project in the Shoreland Zone.

The Maine DEP has also created "The Buffer Handbook, A Guide to Creating Vegetated Buffers for Lakefront Properties."  This guide helps property owners to:

  • Reduce the effects of polluted runoff,

  • Protect the quality of our lakes and streams, and

  • Improve property values.

A great first step in protecting your shoreland zone is having a LakeSmart review of your property.