Shoreland Protection Act – Deadline For Enactment Set!

CONCORD — Governor John Lynch has signed a bill that sets the new deadline for enactment of the state’s Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act at July 1.

The governor signed the bill Thursday, after the State Senate and House of Representatives reached a consensus on Wednesday, bumping the date up from Oct. 1.

Colin Manning, Lynch’s spokesman, said the governor was glad to approve an earlier enactment date.

“It’s a good balance because it offers increased protection of our shorelands sooner but it gives people time to become familiar with the changes,” he said.

A stricter shoreland protection act was passed last year and its original enactment date was April 1; however confusion over some of the law’s definitions and guidelines prompted the Legislature to delay the enactment.

The Senate originally favored an Oct. 1 enactment date to give homeowners and builders more time to familiarize themselves with the new regulations, but the House of Representatives successfully pushed for an earlier date of July 1, convincing the Senate to approve the earlier date which a majority of senators did in a vote last week. The House then voted to approve the earlier enactment date on Wednesday.

Senator Deborah Reynolds, D-Plymouth, said some of the confusion over the new regulations has to do with interpreting definitions and understanding how the act will be enforced by the Department of Environmental Services.

“Certainly there are some clarity issues but I am confident they will be resolved by July 1,” Reynolds said. “From my perspective as a senator that represents much of the Lakes Region, I felt it was important to get this act enacted in a timely manner.”

The act requires state permits (rather than just local) for all shoreline work and places tighter restrictions on what can and cannot be done, including larger easements or distances from the shoreline at which construction can begin.

Reynolds said the July 1 enactment date will still give the State Department of Environmental Services, builders and homeowners time to understand the law.

Reynolds said she does not think the earlier July 1 enactment date will cause a rush to get projects finished. She said that new deadline is only a few months after the original April 1 date and the economic slowdown makes a building rush even more unlikely.

“The perception that there will be a rush seems out of sync with the what’s happening in the state,” Reynolds said.


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