Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act

The Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act (CSPA) helps protect New Hampshire lakes and ponds from erosion and sedimentation as a result of construction and land use activities within 250’ of the shoreline, affecting all homeowners planning to build on or subdivide New Hampshire lakefront property.

The primary purpose of the Act is a good one - to prevent water runoff from going directly into the lake. Excess nutrients in runoff lead to excessive plant and algae growth which eventually starves the lake of oxygen and in turn suffocates fish and other aquatic life. Nutrients and sediment also speed up the lake’s natural aging process, slowly filling it in. Trees and plants at the edge of the lake can filter sediment, soak up nutrients, and protect the lake. One of the focuses of the CSPA is to restrict the number of trees cut near the shoreline.

The Act originally passed the NH Legislature in 1994 and recently went through a stringent reevaluation process to tighten up the laws protecting our lakes and ponds. Amendments were originally scheduled to go into effect April 1, 2008, but due to the complexity of the laws, lawmakers postponed the date to July 1st.

Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth said the changes in the Shoreland Protection Act are difficult to understand and supported the postponement. "Nobody really likes moving legislative deadlines, but for the health of our environment, and the health of our economy, we need to have additional time to solve the ambiguities here and to educate the public.”

Many “gray areas” still exist in the Act and its amendments including restrictions on building size, accessory structures and the amount of clearing that can be done, boathouse construction, and conflicting state vs. town setback requirements.

As a result, many people are coming to us for help in making sure their home plan is in compliance with these regulations. If you are planning to build an energy efficient home on New Hampshire lakefront property, we’re happy to help you get started designing a home plan that meets these amended requirements (along with any other existing regulations), as well as your family’s wants and needs in a primary or vacation home.


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