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Old 07-11-2018, 09:23 PM   #1
GreggPro
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Post property and water front line laws

Can someone please advice me where I can locate the laws for property
/ water lines can be found. I'm looking pacifically the laws on how close can an abutter can dock a boat to your property line. I have a neighbor on both sides. their docks have been there for some years. However they are within 2 feet of my property line. if they dock a boat on my side of their dock its on my water property. What can I do?

Last edited by GreggPro; 07-11-2018 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 07-11-2018, 09:54 PM   #2
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Moorings require a permit, per https://www.nh.gov/safety/divisions/...rings/faq.html

The mooring must have a decal on it; otherwise, it's not properly permitted and can be removed.

This article implies that abutters may object to a permitted mooring: https://law.justia.com/codes/new-ham...ection-270-61/

Perhaps your best course of action is to contact Marine Patrol.
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Old 07-11-2018, 09:56 PM   #3
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If your neighbor is installing a proper dock, this document nicely covers the rights of abutters: https://www.des.nh.gov/organization/...ents/wb-19.pdf
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Old 07-11-2018, 10:44 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sinclair View Post
If your neighbor is installing a proper dock, this document nicely covers the rights of abutters: https://www.des.nh.gov/organization/...ents/wb-19.pdf
Their docks are both existing...
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Old 07-11-2018, 11:14 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreggPro View Post
if they dock a boat on my side of their dock its on my water property. What can I do?
The water isn't your property.
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Old 07-12-2018, 04:23 AM   #6
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I seem to recall that an abutter couldn't block the waterfront of his neighbor similar to a mooring not being in front of a neighbors property. Are these neighbors using both sides of their docks? On a regular basis?
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Old 07-12-2018, 05:51 AM   #7
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With an existing dock, you can follow the imaginary line that extends from your property line into the water to determine how much boat can be at the dock.

In theory, if your property line is at an angle, getting wider at the shoreline, you could end up with a boat docked in front of your neighbor's property. If the line was at a right angle to the shore going straight out you would have less area to dock a boat.
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Old 07-12-2018, 06:50 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TiltonBB View Post
With an existing dock, you can follow the imaginary line that extends from your property line into the water to determine how much boat can be at the dock.



In theory, if your property line is at an angle, getting wider at the shoreline, you could end up with a boat docked in front of your neighbor's property. If the line was at a right angle to the shore going straight out you would have less area to dock a boat.


Yes. Page 3 of the PDF I posted has a nice diagram of this.
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Old 07-12-2018, 07:03 AM   #9
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Quote:
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The water isn't your property.
The water might not be his property, but he has certain rights to the water in front of his shoreline property that the public does not have.
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Old 07-12-2018, 07:12 AM   #10
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Quote:
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The water might not be his property, but he has certain rights to the water in front of his shoreline property that the public does not have.


Yes, and to take the point further the lake isn't "everyone's" property or "our" property -- it's the State of New Hampshire's property, like a state park. The State gets to make whatever rules it wants so long as they are consistent with its being held for the public good. The distinction is important because it avoids the "tragedy of the commons" -- and rules to protect landowners from the public or each other is an important aspect of that.
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Old 07-12-2018, 08:05 AM   #11
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Default Where I dock my boat

My friend bought property on Winnipesaukee, and made application for a new seasonal dock. As part of the approval, looking out at the lake, the dock had to remain 25 ft from the extended property line on the right side of his property looking out.

Seemed reasonable to him, and we have followed this for the last three years. Keeps everyone happy.

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Old 07-12-2018, 09:36 AM   #12
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Default Laws and rules

This is a complicated issue with other threads and varying accuracy of information. Generally, temporary seasonal docks fall under a "Permit By Notification" process. Regulations ("Rules") have some variables based on shore frontage and in some cases, the rule can be waived with written permission of the abutting landowner. In other cases, a dock can be closer to the 20 ft setback if it is an existing structure (grandfathered).
Marine Patrol has little or nothing to do with this issue--it all goes through the Department of Environmental Services Wetlands Bureau. You can call them at 271-4067, although at this time of year, they may be in the field.
If a boat, float, mooring, etc. presents a hazardous condition or impedes navigation, there may be an issue for Marine Patrol. Best solution seems to be for neighbors to work things out. Maybe you could offer to help move your neighbor's temporary dock over a few feet? If it is permitted, these issues were considered in the permit process. DES is very thorough in these considerations and they consult with MP if necessary, before issuing a permit. In any event, call DES. They are very helpful.
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Old 07-12-2018, 09:36 AM   #13
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It seems clear to me that the neighbor's boat, if crossing over the extension of your property line into the water, would be infringing on your rights.

It also seems clear to me that it shouldn't be a big deal in MOST cases, especially if past practice, which it sounds like it is.

Why are you asking? What's changed?

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Old 07-12-2018, 10:32 AM   #14
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In 1998 the following language was added to RSA 482-A:

"RSA 482-A:3 Excavating and Dredging Permit; Certain Exemptions. –XIII. (a) All boat docking facilities shall be at least 20 feet from an abutting property line in non-tidal waters, and at least 20 feet in tidal waters.
(b) Boat docking facilities may be perpendicular or parallel to the shoreline or extend at some other angle into a water body, depending on the needs of the landowners, factors related to safe navigation, and the difficulty of construction. However, any boat secured to such a dock shall not extend beyond the extension of the abutter's property line.
(c) Notwithstanding the provisions of subparagraph (a), boat docking facilities may be located closer than 20 feet from an abutter's property line in non-tidal waters and 20 feet in tidal waters, if the owner of the boat docking facility obtains the written consent of the abutting property owner. Such consent shall be signed by all parties, notarized and filed with the dock application with the department of environmental services.
(d) Abutters may apply for a common dock on or near their common property line. Any application for a common dock shall be accompanied by a notarized written agreement which shall be signed by all property owners. Such agreement shall be filed at the registry of deeds and attached to the deed of each property owner."

Docks installed after 1998 must therefore be 20 feet off the imaginary extension of the property line unless a signed notarized waiver of the setback is obtained from the affected abutter.

Prior to 1998 the setback for docks was established in the Administrative Rules adopted under RSA 482-A by the Wetlands Bureau. Between 1992 and 1998 the rules required a 20 ft. setback. I do know that during the late 70's and through the 80's the setback was only 10 feet by Rule. Sorry but I haven't had time to pin down the exact date of the change from 10 ft. to 20 ft.

Docks that were first installed prior to 1969 would not have been subject to a setback requirement.

Please note that the law specifies that the setback is from the imaginary extension of the property line meaning it continues over the water along the same heading of the property line. Thus the extension is frequently not perpendicular to shore.
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Old 07-13-2018, 10:18 AM   #15
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Default Follow-up question to Shore Things...

.Thank you for the great info in your post on the setback rules. One follow-up question:

Suppose Abutter A signs off on the neighbor's dock being less than 20 feet from the property line. Then, a few years later, Abutter A sells his property and Abutter A1 is now the owner. A1 then says, "hey, I didn't agree to that....that was the previous owner" Does the agreement stay with the property, or does it cease when the abutter who signed it sells?

Thanks!
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Old 07-13-2018, 10:27 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeredithMan View Post
.Thank you for the great info in your post on the setback rules. One follow-up question:

Suppose Abutter A signs off on the neighbor's dock being less than 20 feet from the property line. Then, a few years later, Abutter A sells his property and Abutter A1 is now the owner. A1 then says, "hey, I didn't agree to that....that was the previous owner" Does the agreement stay with the property, or does it cease when the abutter who signed it sells?

Thanks!
Seems like it may become attached to a deed... could be considered a recorded encroachment to the property. May become part of the property. That's why it is critical that everything is divulged by the seller to any buyer, but that doesn't make the buyer not perform their own due diligence. Then again it may only be a recorded agreement between 2 parties... time to consult an attorney.
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Old 07-13-2018, 10:48 AM   #17
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This is an interesting question that we have not been forced to answer yet. DES takes the position that the docking facility was legally installed and therefore can remain. The buyer of the abutting property bought into a pre-existing "knowable" situation. That said, the permit for the dock would have been recorded with the deed on which the dock is installed, not the abutting property, so this is not something that would show up in a title search. If dock in question is a permanent dock then it is a situation that should have been completely visible to the buyer beforehand. If the dock is seasonal and the property is sold over the off-season or if there is a recent, active permit and construction hasn't occurred yet then the buyer might be in for an unpleasant surprise. DES has received some conditional waivers and in those instances the permit for the dock should contain Specific Conditions that reflect the conditional waiver granted by the abutter.
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Old 07-13-2018, 11:39 AM   #18
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Our abutting neighbor has owned his place probably 30+ years. We bought about 5 yrs ago. His dock is definitely not 20' back from the prop line. I don't know if he had an agreement with the previous owner of my place, who also had been there many years. It's not worth making an issue over, because he's a great neighbor and has done a lot to help us out in the time we've lived there, but it is always good to know what the official rules are. Thank you!
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