Maine Waterfront Real Estate | FAQs
Maine Home Connection
Home Home About Us About Us Contact Us Contact Us
MHC MHC MHC MHC MHC MHC
Buyers Sellers Stats Maine Blog Properties
Explore Communities
Search All Properties
Lifestyle Home Search Map
Your Home's Value
Waterfront Real Estate
Relocation Services
Featured Listings
Home Finance & Mortgage
Retirement in Maine
Real Estate Investing
Video Library
Featured Properties
Enter a keyword to search the site

Features & Services
  
Your Home's Value
My Home's Value:
Receive a Report of  Your Home's Value 
New ConstructionNew Construction: 
Guidelines, Builders, Green Homes
Your Home's ValueMarket Conditions:
Current Home Sales Reports & Statistics 
Sold PropertiesSold Data:
View All Recent Home Sales History
Left-MarketingHome Marketing:
Maximum Exposure© Home Marketing 
  
...Manage Your Account
  
Login
Existing Users:
Login with your email address only
Existing UsersNew Users: 
Simple signup to view   all Maine properties.
Contact Us
Contact Us:  
Call or email us with your questions.
  
Newsletter Signup
 


Maine Waterfront Real Estate

Common Questions

Are there regulations that cover the use, improvement and/or development of waterfront property?

Yes. In recognition of the importance of the shorelands of Maine's lakes, rivers, wetlands and the ocean to the state's environment and economy, a Shoreland Zoning Act was first enacted in 1971. Since then, these controls have been revised and expanded.

This act established minimum zoning standards for all towns and municipalities to adopt, and gave the state an oversight role. Local governments have to meet these requirements, but they could be more stringent than the state's guidelines, so with any specific property/project, it is important to contact the local government.

Towns have the role of issuing permits, appointing a Code Enforcement Officer to enforce the ordinances, and collect fees and record all transactions.

What are considered shoreland zones?

.All land within 250 feet of the highwater line of any pond over 10 acres, any river that drains at least 25 square miles, and all tidal waters and saltwater marshes.
  
.All land within 250 feet of a freshwater wetland over 10 acres.
  
.All land within 75 feet of streams that are an outlet of great ponds or streams below the confluence of 2 perennial streams.
 

How is the distance from a water body measured?

It is measured horizontally from the normal high water line, or in the case of a wetland, the "upland edge". It is NOT the uphill distance.

What about buildings, lots and uses that do not meet current standards?

These are "non-conforming" and usually pre-date the ordinance. A common situation is where a building is sited too close to the water. These non-conforming uses may be repaired, renovated and maintained without a permit, provided no expansion occurs.

Does that mean no expansion is possible?

No. The law does not permit any expansion towards the water if the structure is already less than the required setback. However, a non-conforming structure that existed on January 1, 1989 may be expanded less than 30% (based on the floor area and volume of the structure), but only to the part of the building that is within the required setback - and, of course, with a permit. Local municipalities may adopt some other alternatives to the 30% rule. See the local ordinance.

What else can be done with a non-conforming structure?

It may be possible to build a new or enlarged basement under the structure. It may be possible to relocate the structure. If a building is damaged or destroyed and loses more than 50% of its value, it may be possible to rebuild it. See the local ordinance.

What is the minimum lot size allowed?

Shore frontage (the width of the lot at the waterfront) and overall lot sizes standards vary, depending on the type of use and type of water body. Generally, the following minimum standards apply:

 Lot Types

 Tidal Waters Inland Waters
     
Residential Lot Size
Residential Lot Frontage
Commercial Lot Size
Commercial Lot Frontage
 30,000 sqft
150 ft shore frontage
40,000 sqft
200 ft shore frontage
 40,000 sqft
200 ft shore frontage
60,000 sqft
300 ft shore frontage

The minimum lot width within 100 feet of the shoreline can be no less than the shore frontage standard.

Note: Land below normal high-water and roads cannot be included in the lot area. The frontage and lot size requirement applies to each principal structure or dwelling unit.

A non-conforming lot that predates the local ordinance may be built upon either with or without a variance, depending on the situation, See the local Code Enforcement Officer.

What are the minimum setback requirements?

The setback for structures on great ponds or rivers flowing into great ponds is 100 feet. A 75 foot setback applies to all other water bodies, streams and wetlands.

Are there height restrictions?

Yes. The maximum height of a new or expanded structure is 35 feet, measured from the downhill side of the building to the roof peak. Additionally, the first floor must be at least one foot above the 100 year flood elevation. See the local town office,

Are there lot coverage requirements?

Yes. Because solid surfaces increase runoff, the total area of a lot coverage by structures, driveways, parking areas, decks, patios, and other non-vegetated surfaces is limited to 20% in shoreland areas.

What about roads, driveways and parking areas?

The setbacks are generally the same as for structures, But there are specific requirements as to banks, grades and drainage that should be investigated. See the local Code Enforcement Officer.

Are there erosion control requirements?

Yes. Before any development is undertaken, it is essential that state and local standards be investigated. In the case of earth disturbance within 100 feet of a water resource, a permit may be required for excavating, filling, grading, placing riprap, maintaining or replacing structures including docks and retaining walls. Stormwater vegetated buffers, while not always required, are strongly encouraged to help prevent erosion and polluted runoff into water bodies.

Any advice on septic systems?

Yes. Septic systems can work effectively for 25 years or more if properly maintained. But its often a case of out of sight, out of mind. A system can be failing or polluting nearby surface water without there being visible signs. So before purchasing property with a septic system, ask for documentation on design, location and maintenance, look for signs of failure and have the system professionally inspected.

If a new septic system is contemplated, it must be designed by a Maine licensed site evaluator and installed according to the standards in the Plumbing Code, as administered by the local Plumbing Inspector, with a permit, of course.

What about cutting trees and clearing vegetation?

On great ponds and rivers flowing into them, there is a 100 foot buffer zone:

.No more than 40% of the total volume of trees over 4 inches in diameter may be harvested in any 10 year period.
  
.Vegetation less than 3 feet in height, including ground cover, cannot be removed.
  
.Pruning the lower 1/3 of tree branches within the buffer is permitted.

On all other water bodies the buffer zone is 75 feet and clearing is limited to 40% of volume in a 10 year period and no cleared openings. Also within these buffer zones:

.No opening within the forest canopy can exceed 250 square feet.
  
.A winding footpath is allowed, its width depending on the body of water.
  
.Selective cutting is allowed according to an established rating system.

Clearing beyond the buffer zones and timber harvesting is also regulated. See the local ordinances.

What if I buy a "seasonal" camp in the shoreland zone. Can I convert it to a permanent, year-round home?

Yes. But you may be required to obtain a seasonal conversion permit from the local Plumbing Inspector to ensure adequate subsurface wastewater disposal systems are in place to handle increased usage.

Can I establish a campsite on a shoreland parcel?

Private campsites are subject to the following standards:

.Only one site per 30,000 square feet of lot is permitted
  
.Tents, recreational vehicles, cars, trailers, etc., must be set back 100 feet from a Great Pond, or river flowing to a Great Pond, and 75 feet from other water bodies
  
.No permanent foundation, except for a gravel pad, is allowed
.Clearing in the Resource Protection District is limited to 1000 square feet
  
.Approval of the method of sewage disposal is required from the Local Plumbing Inspector
  
.If the camper, tent, vehicle, or shelter is on-site for more than 120 days of the year, residential structure and sewage standards must be met

What about drinking water?

While it is permissible to pull water from a lake or river, the problems are potability and freezing of waterlines, so this is typically a seasonal source for uses other than drinking. Drilled wells (often called artesian here) are the best permanent source, with the probability of finding water in Maine being excellent. For an already developed property with a water source, water quality, quantity and the performance of the systems should be tested by a lab and/or a well contractor.

    
    
  

   Understanding Shoreland

What is considered a shoreland in Maine is important when you are thinking about long-term options for your property.

Footer-BirdAll land within 250 feet of the highwater line of any pond over 10 acres, any river that drains at least 25 square miles and all tidal water and saltwater marshes
  
Footer-BirdAll land with 250 feet of a freshwater wetland over 10 acres.
  
Footer-BirdAll land within 75 feet of streams that are outlet of great ponds or streams below the confluence of 2 perennial streams.

         Real Estate Values

Although not true in all cases, real estate prices tend to be less expensive the farther up the Maine coastline you go and the farther inland you travel.

Maine has long been a destination for second homes either along the coast or one of our beautiful lakes or rivers.

Following several years of depressed pricing, the market is improving and it appears to be a good time to make a purchase.

     Customize Your Search

Our home search is very easy to use.  Select your price range, location, waterfront type & home style. Receive email updates of all matching properties. You will have access to all properties for sale in the Maine MLS.


Why Use a Buyer's Agent

By retaining the services of a qualified and professional Buyer's Agent, you have access to equal representation in the real estate transaction. 

If you are thinking of buying a home, or are in the process of buying one, you can't afford to do it alone.

Local knowledge can be hard to come by. While the Internet can be a good place to begin your search, there is no substitue for hands-on experience in the local market.

       The Maine Waterfront

 
    


 
Buying Your Home Heart and Mind Buyer Agency
Exclusive Services Agency Relationships Title Insurance
Home Buying Process Advice and Strategy
Affect of the Economy Determining A Price First Time Buyers Viewing Homes Second Homes Home Search Strategy Waterfront Real Estate
Common Forms
Selling Your Home Your Home's Value Home Marketing
Digital Photography High Definition Video Property Storyboard Virtual Staging Internet Marketing
Pricing Factors Advice and Strategy
Counteroffers Establishing a Price Listing Agreements Feng Shui Principles Considering Repairs Value of Improvement Choosing A Realtor Common Mistakes
Home Selling Process
Stats
Maine Maine History Maine Geography Maine Economy Maine Demographics Maine Education Maine Climate Maine Beaches
Maine Real Estate Blog
Search for Properties Hyper Local Search Preset Local Searches
Maine Communities Portland South Portland Scarborough Falmouth Cape Elizabeth Cumberland Yarmouth Old Orchard Beach Freeport Harpswell
Search For Homes Maine Map Search Detailed Property Search Search By Address Search By MLS Number
Lifestyle Map Search
Home Valuation
Waterfront Real Estate Coastal Maine
Maine Coastal Properties
Maine Lakes
Maine Lake Properties
Maine Rivers Casco Bay Islands
Peaks Island Chebeague Island Great Diamond Island Long Island Cliff Island Cushing Island
Waterfront - FAQ's
Relocation Services Relocation Package Area Digital E-Guide Maine Counties Quality of Life Education and Schools Art and Culture Property Tax Rates Common Relocation FAQs Moving Long Distance
Mortgage Center Mortgage Types Credit Scoring Fee & Closing Costs Mortgage FAQs Tax Credit
Retirement in Maine Retirement Planning Retirement Communities Changing Demographics
Real Estate Investing Vacation Homes 1031 Tax Exchanges Condos and Townhomes Remodeling: Cost vs Value
Video Library