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Old 04-26-2019, 01:26 PM   #1
IslandRadio
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Default Dock setback from property line - Does Grandfathering apply?

I am looking at a waterfront property.

The property has a dock, and it is very close (less than 3 feet) from one of the side property lines, as is the dock belonging to one of the neighbors (is less than 3 feet from the other side line of the property I am considering).

The neighbor that is nearest to the dock that is part of property I am considering has informed the seller that he wants the dock moved to meet the current code, which I believe is 20 feet.

The dock has been located near to the edge of the property for decades.

Is this a grandfathered situation? Strikes me that it might be, but I can't find any information one way or the other.

If this sale were to happen, I do not wish any animosity with any potential new neighbors, but I would like to know where the legal situation stands. My plan would be to eventually build a new dock anyway, and I suspect that the new one would have to meet the new code.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

Thanks and Regards, Steve
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Old 04-26-2019, 01:36 PM   #2
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As the resident legal expert on docks and property lines, it is so totally grandfathered that it is both grandfathered and grandmothered at the same time, both retroactively, and going forward, indefinitely and forever into the future!

Your neighbor has no legs to stand on with his stand on this.
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Old 04-26-2019, 01:38 PM   #3
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Default Dock is a roll-in. Does that make a difference?

Hmmm.. thanks!!

The dock is a roll-in. Does that make a difference?

There is concrete ramp right at the water's edge, over which the dock is wheeled into the water.

My ultimate plan (should this go through) is to build a permanent dock that can be winched out of the water off-season, and is hinged at the shore.
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Old 04-26-2019, 01:43 PM   #4
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No ..... that it's a seasonal dock makes no difference ..... the great majority of docks around these here parts are all seasonal.

It is regulated by the NH Dept of Waterfront Imagination ... aka the NH-Dept Environmental Services ....and they have lengthy rules for learning what's what.
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Old 04-26-2019, 01:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IslandRadio View Post
Hmmm.. thanks!!

The dock is a roll-in. Does that make a difference?

There is concrete ramp right at the water's edge, over which the dock is wheeled into the water.

My ultimate plan (should this go through) is to build a permanent dock that can be winched out of the water off-season, and is hinged at the shore.
A dock that will be hinged at shore and winched up is considered a seasonal dock, not a permanent dock. You can attach to boulders on the shore or pour a pad to mount to. An installation of a new dock will fall under a new project and thus have to conform to current regulations. If you are using the existing hinge point and not changing the dock size/layout you could probably just replace.

Any deviation though would make it a new permit and placement.

The neighbor cannot make the seller move the dock to confirm to current standards unless a change in the layout is taking place. It is grandfathered. If their dock is close to the line as well, they would fall under the same rules.
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Old 04-26-2019, 03:37 PM   #6
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Default Complex rules

Yes, the side;line setback is usually 20 feet. There are some complex legal battles when you go below that, trying to prove to the judge that you are grandfathered with old pictures that are of uncertain dates. In some cases, DES has permitted a smaller setback when there is written permission from the abutter. That may or may not run with he deed if it was (not) filed at the county registry. If there is a permit, it may restrict use of one side of the dock so that a boat does not intrude over the extension of the lot line. Size of the lot frontage also plays a part in this.
Best info is to call DES Water Pollution Bureau (271-4067) so you can be very specific about your situation. It's friendly and free. There are too many variables for a reliable answer on this forum.
There is a House bill pending that establishes a dock registration procedure (HB645) that may solve some of these issues moving forward. Next hearing is in the Senate, April 23. There is also an ongoing study commission that may re-write all of the statutes relating to inland docks. If the dock location is important to you, get an attorney to address the issues for you. Verbal statements from seller, abutter, Realtor etc can be troublesome in the future
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Old 04-26-2019, 04:20 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Descant View Post
Yes, the side;line setback is usually 20 feet. There are some complex legal battles when you go below that, trying to prove to the judge that you are grandfathered with old pictures that are of uncertain dates. In some cases, DES has permitted a smaller setback when there is written permission from the abutter. That may or may not run with he deed if it was (not) filed at the county registry. If there is a permit, it may restrict use of one side of the dock so that a boat does not intrude over the extension of the lot line. Size of the lot frontage also plays a part in this.
Best info is to call DES Water Pollution Bureau (271-4067) so you can be very specific about your situation. It's friendly and free. There are too many variables for a reliable answer on this forum.
There is a House bill pending that establishes a dock registration procedure (HB645) that may solve some of these issues moving forward. Next hearing is in the Senate, April 23. There is also an ongoing study commission that may re-write all of the statutes relating to inland docks. If the dock location is important to you, get an attorney to address the issues for you. Verbal statements from seller, abutter, Realtor etc can be troublesome in the future
This is who you want to call:
Docks and Shoreline Structures Program
NHDES Wetlands Bureau
29 Hazen Drive; PO Box 95
Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-2147
(603) 271-6588 (fax)
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Old 04-27-2019, 12:01 PM   #8
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Thanks for everyone's responses.

All were filled with very useful info !!

If this happens, I will follow up with the final results
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Old 04-27-2019, 01:07 PM   #9
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Salmon Meadow Cove? If so good luck and hope to see you on the water this summer neighbor!


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Old 06-28-2019, 11:21 AM   #10
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From: https://www.des.nh.gov/organization/.../faq.htm#faq12

"Grandfathered status" is defined as a structure that was in place prior to any requirement to obtain a permit under RSA 482-A:3, I, or its predecessor statute, RSA 483-A:1, I, AND that has been continuously maintained with no change to its location, size, and configuration, AND that has not been abandoned. The permit requirement was established June 22, 1967 for docking structures adjacent to tidal waters, July 2, 1969 for freshwater permanent docking structures, and September 4, 1978 for freshwater seasonal docking structures.

If the structure does not qualify for grandfather status, then it still may be OK if you have proof the structure was built in accordance with a valid state permit. You can do a search at https://www4.des.state.nh.us/OneStop/. You may also be able to find reference to the structure/wetlands pemit at the county's register of deeds.

If the structure is a valid, nonconforming structure, then you can repair in place all you want. If you change it at all, then you will need to go through a new permitting process and adhere to all the current rules and regs ( which may still work very well for you ).

All that said, given the cost of waterfront property, I would highly recommend you hire someone who makes a living doing these permits for their opinion. Even if that costs you $5k for an official study, it is money well spent to ensure that you can continue to have adequate docking on your waterfront property.

If you are working with a local realtor, these are all tasks they can help you with.

Good luck!
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Old 06-28-2019, 06:23 PM   #11
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We purchased a property with a permanent dock that we thought was conforming because it was reflected in the deed history. When we attempted to replace it with the contractor's advice that replacement was permissible, our neighbor complained to the state authorities. After several starts to replacing the permanent dock and the state changing its mind several times, the state finally concluded that the dock replacement was not permissible and we had to go through a new permitting process for a replacement seasonal dock. After two years without a dock, we finally were able to have a new seasonable dock in place. I hope you have a better experience than we did.
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