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TRY IT NO THANKS

Blog :: 05-2012

Welcome to the Spencer-Hughes Real Estate blog! Here we cover everything from real estate tips and insight, to local news and events in Wolfeboro NH and the Lakes Region.

Shoreland Protection Act Wolfeboro style

When the Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act was first legislated it was a bit over the top in terms of the limitations on the development of one's property on the state's lakes/waterways. I was invited to participate in an outreachpanel in Concord to gauge reaction around the state; what was working, what wasn't and how we might make it more user friendly. The early versions were technically set up so the average home owner could apply to the state for what they wanted to do, but practically speaking, they had no chance of getting it right unless they sought professional help from people in the business of land planning. What was nice about the outreach committee is you got to see where the State of NH really was committed to making it more user friendly and willing to look at scaling it back. No one would argue we want to protect the state's lakes, ponds, rivers and waterways, but home owners, real estate agents and even town officials were struggling to get it right. One of the people who got involved from the very beginning was one of Lake Winnipesaukee's finest builders Joe Skiffington, and they did all they could to persuade the state to make the regulations more reasonable and while they did have some positive affect on the original legislation that first one was like wearing handcuffs and ankle braces. The state did recognize that they went too far and made some adjustments to thelegislation, but I remember being surprised when builder Joe Skiffington said "they went too far the other way now?" My short sighted early question was, "well doesn't that help us in these tough times, get some waterfront real estate moving again?" Joe's response was "well, yes it makes our job easier, it helps home owners for sure for now, but they went too far and in so doing I imagine there will be some backlash and we'll see another big adjustment. They didn't need to go as far as they did and I fear this isn't over." He knew what he was talking about!

The Wolfeboro Planning Board

Wolfeboro made Joe somewhat of a prophet as theybasically readopted the original legislation through a zoning ordinance posted by the Planning Board and approved by the voters. While it's not identical to the original one, it's a lot closer to the original one than the one that was adjusted that the rest of the towns are using. The Wolfeboro Planning Board has been a proactive board over the years and has an outstanding town planner in Rob Houseman, who is extremely helpful when dealing with these issues, but it's still best to talk to a professional in the business being a builder such as Joe Skiffington, one of the many fine land planning companies we have in the area or you can give me a call and we can point you in the right direction. We often consult with waterfront property owners as to what is the highest and best use for a waterfront property? It'sa combination of what the property has to offer, how it fits into local zoning laws, State of NH Dept of Environmental Services regulations and then the Shoreland Protection Act. When you read the zoning and other ordinances they appear to be fairly straight forward, but you really need to be careful with that, as they are a guide based on general conditions, but then we have to apply what you have, where you're located, soil conditions, etc. I can't tell you how many times in my early years I would read the zoning, walk out of town hall excited "Hey we can do this...." and then had an awful time with it. It's not that the town is doing anything wrong, it's just you can't write an ordinance to cover every aspect of every property. However, my pain and suffering over 25-years of seeking approvals is something our clients can take great advantage of. I don't have all the answers, but I can generally get you started in the right direction.

Understanding the Shoreland Protection Act

Too many real estate agents are still quoting things you can and can't do with waterfront property and that's just plain dangerous unless you have a solid grasp our the local zoning laws, understand the Shoreland Protection Act inside and out and how it applies to your specific property and site conditions. Real estate agents are not typically trained in these areas, but there are a select few who can deal with these regulations and apply them to your property. At the end of the day the only way you can do something on your waterfront property is when the State of NH approves your application to make whatever changes you wanted. If you ask a real estate agent "Hey can I build this addition/put this patio in/etc?" and they say "Sure that's no problem" assume it's a problem and hopefully it's not one of our agents, as they know better than to tell you that you can absolutely do something without first getting someone who truly understands all the pieces of an approval. While we're not thrilled the town of Wolfeboro adopted this, it's understandable and we've had good experience working with them, as again their planner is first class and you can work with him. If we can help, let me know and thanks for reading! Kindest regards, Bob Hughes