New shoreline protection rules delayed until July

After weeks of debate, it appears the legislature has agreed on a compromise that will see the implementation of stricter shorefront construction laws being delayed to July 1.

On Thursday the Senate voted in favor of an amendment to House Bill 1601 that will see the new rules of the Comprehensive Shore land Protection Act being delayed until this summer.

Changes to the state’s shoreline construction laws were approved this past summer but the formation of the rules to implement them has created some confusion on the part of builders across the state.

A law passed in 2007 requires state permits for shoreline work and places tighter restrictions on what can be done in an attempt to preserve shoreline areas on New Hampshire’s water bodies.

The rules pertaining to the law changes went into effect on April 1 under the authority of the state’s Department of Environmental Services (DES) but many viewed it as rushed with developers expressing confusion over how to approach building under the new provisions.

State senators responded earlier this month by voting to delay the bill’s enactment until Oct. 1, but that amendment would need concurrence in the House to pass muster and more than one House member expressed the desire not to delay the implementation through an entire building season.

A Senate press release indicates the compromise position comes after a House committee refused to accept an Oct. 1 implementation date adopted by the Senate, threatening to leave the original implementation date of April 1 in place.

Senate leaders from both parties preferred the Oct. 1 implementation date because it gave homeowners and builders more time to familiarize themselves with the complexities of the new rules.

However the majority voted to support the July 1 date so lakefront property owners and builders were not left in limbo as a legislative debate dragged on.

After speaking with several House members, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Foster said he’s confident the implementation date will be resolved before the end of next week.

“Many of us would have preferred the later date but it is important to get the issue resolved and not put the entire Shore land Protection Act at risk. Builders and homeowners need to know what rules will apply and when,” said Senator Kathleen Sgambati (D-Tilton).

Senator Deborah Reynolds (D-Plymouth) said she reluctantly supported the change from Oct. 1 to July 1 because she wanted to make sure builders and homeowners could proceed with their plans, knowing what set of rules they had to work under.

“It’s not fair to leave our constituents up in the air on this,” said Reynolds.

“At least with a July 1 start date, we give people a little more time to get familiar with the new permitting process before the new rules take effect,” she added.

Department of Environmental Services officials will now work out how to handle a potential delay in the implementation of rules that have already been in effect until April 1.

“DES is going to work with whatever date is decided upon in the legislature,” said Martin.


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