On July 1, 2014, Vermont’s Shoreland Protection Act (10 V.S.A. §1441 et seq.) went into effect. The Act aims to protect the quality of Vermont lakes and surrounding lands by regulating development within a “Protected Shoreland Area” defined as “all land located within 250 feet of the mean water level of a lake that is greater than 10 acres in surface area.”
Any new development, redevelopment, or clearing of a property within a protected shoreland area will require issuance of a permit from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources unless it fits one of the exemptions. There are numerous exemptions set forth in 10 V.S.A. §1446. The exemptions that will predominately apply to residential landowners include maintenance of existing buildings, gardens, and lawns (without enlarging them) and re-construction of existing impervious areas without increasing or changing the current footprint.
A lakefront property owner in Vermont or potential purchaser of lakefront property in Vermont needs to be aware of the myriad of restrictions that apply under the Act. Something as mundane as building a deck or building a quaint walkway to the lake may require a State permit. Questions concerning the applicability of the Act or the State of Vermont’s complex permit regime should be directed to an attorney who specializes in Vermont property law or a Vermont licensed civil engineer.