Shoreland Zoning News

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Fall 2014  Vol. 27 No. 4

In this Edition:

Commissioner's Corner

Commissioner Patricia Aho

Throughout the past three years, the LePage Administration has listened to the regulated community and incorporated your suggestions on how we can improve our processes.  I created an entire Office of Innovation and Assistance to listen to, work with, and engage with our customers. We know that by listening to our customers we are able to provide targeted improvements such as creating educational and outreach materials to further improve compliance, learn about conflicts or impediments within our processes that we can resolve, or simply establish a relationship for when you may have questions or issues that need to be answered.

I directed the Office to make the department’s processes more accessible and open. For example, it’s now easier for the public to participate in our rulemakings because our hearings are audio-streamed. This means you only need an internet connection to hear what others are saying about the department’s proposals.   

It will come as no surprise to you, that many people across the state are interested in the amendments to the Chapter 1000: Guidelines for Municipal Shoreland Zoning Ordinances.  I believe that our improvement to the rulemaking process increases the  regulated community’s ability to participate. If you can’t make it to Augusta for the public hearing on September 16, please listen in and/or submit comments to the department by September 26.  Your suggestions and comments are necessary to protect our environment and improve our economy. 

Without you as partners, we can’t protect our natural resources and environment nearly as effectively, without you as partners, we can’t modernize as quickly, and without you as partners we can’t build Maine’s economy.

The Governor and I know that whether in rural or urban Maine, our economy improves when our environment improves so thank you in advance for engaging in our process and please know that we will continue to find ways to collaborate and partner to move Maine forward. 

Stakeholder briefing held on rulemaking

By Colin Clark

hazard removal

On July 24, the Shoreland Zoning Stakeholder group reconvened to discuss comments submitted regarding the working draft of Chapter 1000 posted May 9.

There was a lively discussion about the statutory changes that are being worked into the draft, including:

  • New expansion standards for nonconforming structures (read more in the Summer News)
  • Keeping the timber harvesting standards that are in effect where local municipalities adopted statewide standards, and removing the old standards that are no longer in effect where local municipalities repealed them
  • Required contractor certification

Other changes proposed are derived from both the 2011 stakeholder process and from existing Department policy on how current standards are administered, including standards that clarify replanting requirements:

  • Removal of storm-damaged, dead and hazard trees
  • Removal of invasive species
  • Review of shoreline stabilization projects

These discussions generated many comments. The official rulemaking draft was posted on Wednesday, August 27. The public hearing will take place on Tuesday, September 16 at 1:00 PM in Augusta. If you have comments on Chapter 1000 rulemaking, please contact Mark Margerum.

Story Series: Water quality starts on land

By Stephenie MacLagan


Recent presentation requests stressed water quality concerns. For this Story Series, we focus on successful actions we can take on the land to maintain and improve water quality.

Potential pollution on the land does not stay put. It washes away in the rain, but it doesn’t just go away. Pollution runs off with stormwater, picking up more pollutants along its way to water bodies and wetlands. Even marine water quality is being affected by runoff.

Each year the Department funds projects, conducts trainings and publishes materials to help Maine citizens take actions to reduce nonpoint source pollution. This is the pollution that doesn’t come from one identifiable source, but comes from many sources all across a watershed. A little bit here and there in a watershed adds up to a lot of pollution flowing to one water body or wetland at the bottom of the watershed.

This year’s Nonpoint Source Pollution Report highlights 12 watershed projects completed in 2013. Over $1.5 million was spent to maintain and improve water quality, a drop in the bucket compared to the billions of dollars generated from Maine’s waters each year.

You can take action on your own land, and guide landowners in your community to these helpful resources:

Court Support: This is Maine

By Mike Morse

After constructing and enclosing an outdoor shower without permitting, the Town of Shapleigh ordered owners to obtain permits or remove the structure. After failing to comply, the Town took court action and succeeded in obtaining the relief they sought.

First, the Kittlesons constructed a small outdoor shower in July 2011, and then enclosed it more permanently in 2013. The owner had not obtained shoreland zoning, building or plumbing permits from the Town of Shapleigh for the new structure. It was constructed too close to the shoreline of Mousam Lake and too close to a property line, and it was not connected to their private sewer system. The owner used soaps and shampoos in the shower, which contain plenty of nutrients to stimulate algal growth in a water body.

In the summer of 2013, the Town notified the owner of the violations and ordered them to apply for permits or remove the structure. The owner, arguing that the structure is rustic and primitive in nature and function, refused to take either action by the stipulated deadline. The Town filed a Rule 80K complaint in District Court (Town of Shapleigh vs. Molly M. Kittleson, 2014 ME).

The Court heard arguments and very clearly decided in favor of the Town. The Court required removal of the structure within 10 days, payment of a $5,000 civil penalty to the Town, and also awarded the Town $1,902 in attorney fees.

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Occasionally we may find ourselves thinking about not elevating such a case to the courts, in part because it might simply seem like too minimal a structure to pursue at that level—perhaps wondering if we would be “laughed out of the courtroom.” However, this seemingly primitive structure clearly violated the ordinance in several ways and the Court acknowledged that fact, evidently without hesitation. 

The lesson learned is that when a violator refuses to eliminate even a minor violation, we need to be diligent about using all the tools in our toolbox and taking the necessary action in order to uphold the integrity of the ordinance and the Town. This is for the benefit of the water body, and everyone who uses and enjoys it, which the regulations aim to protect.

Unless we are involved, we rarely learn of court proceedings. Thank you for continuing to copy court decisions to us!

Shoreland Zoning Notes: Staff and events

Meet the staff series


Over the years, you have probably gotten to know your regional staff member, but did you know we work as a team behind the scenes? We’re constantly checking in with one another to ensure consistency statewide in the assistance that we provide you. Now you get to learn more about us!

Colin Clark became Shoreland Zoning Coordinator in December 2012, and he assists municipalities in Central Maine. Moving to shoreland zoning seemed like a good progression, after 14 years with the Department working in Air and then Field Services.

Why Shoreland Zoning? “I had developed a great rapport with municipalities. Now I get to work more closely with local officials and landowners in order to make a larger positive impact,” Colin said. “Working in shoreland zoning allows me to implement laws that protect environmental services that can’t be valued other than by those who want to use them. Recreation is an example, and my personal recreational interests also led me to working in these fields.”

Favorite outdoor activities?Whether I’m getting out with just my wife or with the whole family, we’re doing very much the same outdoor activities. While less often these days, I continue to capitalize on opportunities to go fly fishing. Boating and water sports are great for involving the entire family. I also spend a lot of time hunting and water fowling. I gather most of the enjoyment from seeing the retrieving dogs do what they’ve come to be proficient at after spending hundreds or thousands of hours training.”

Favorite state fair?The family really enjoys the Litchfield fair, because it is more geared toward younger kids. There are also a lot of interactive type activities, including animals. It’s just an older-style fair, with agricultural and craft contests.”

Vacation plans? “We’re planning the first family trip to Florida this year, so the kids can experience Orlando. We’ve got plans for fall activities in the northwestern part of the state, to do some hunting and fishing with the family.”

Toward which Shoreland Zoning Purpose do you most gravitate? “‘To conserve natural beauty and open space,’ because this one ties together all the others. This is important to me, because I want my kids, their kids, and their kids’ kids, to be able to do what I did as a kid. My father and I would go to a stream to trout fish. Once, I got to the stream first, and I saw a mother bear and cub on the other side. The waterfall provided us cover, so they didn’t smell or hear us, but I was scared and ran as soon as I saw them. My father calmly took us back down to the stream to watch them.”

Best part of the job? “Interacting with individuals, landowners, municipalities and internally to help people solve issues they have. There aren’t a lot of positions where the work has a direct impact to natural resources. Even though 20 years from now no one will remember or know who I am, I know that my work will have had an impact on the natural resources we love and enjoy.”

Upcoming events

Quick, register now before it’s too late!

Watershed Survey Workshop. September 12 in Auburn. More information. Sponsor: Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program.

Evaluating the Installation of E&S Controls. September 16 in Fairfield. Registration required. For more information, email JETCC. Good for 3 shoreland zoning credit hours. Sponsors: DEP Nonpoint Source Training and Resource Center and JETCC.

Green Infrastructure – Planning for Resilience. September 29 in Ellsworth and October 1 in Wells. Registration required by September 3. Good for 6 shoreland zoning credit hours. Sponsors: Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry; Hancock County Planning Commission; and Wells Reserve.

Smart Growth Summit. October 21 in Augusta. For more information. Sponsors: Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry; GrowSmart Maine; Project Canopy; and others.