The Taunton Bay Watershed Stewardship Guide

2012 Edition

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The Taunton Bay Shorelands Handbook

Third Edition
Winter 1999

Friends of Taunton Bay

PO Box 411
Hancock, ME 04640


Taunton Bay Watershed


In the text of this handbook you will find a summary of some of the many laws and regulations established to protect the natural waters of our beautiful state. However, the laws often seem confusing, sometimes escape enforcement and are inadequate to completely protect coastal waters, lakes and streams from siltation and pollution. What is needed more than anything is that all landowners, as stewards of this land, take responsibility for maintaining the quality of the water body we live on. To this end, Friends of Taunton Bay offer the following basic tips which will help you stay within the law as well as protect the Taunton Bay watershed.

Think BUFFER ZONE. A dense area of vegetation between development and the water is the bay’s [or lake’s or stream’s] best protection against erosion and nutrient run-off.

If you wish to attain a view, leave ground cover and under-story plants and tall trees while trimming off middle-story trees and lower limbs.

Don’t disturb the duff–the fallen leaves, needles and natural debris that litter the ground beneath the trees and absorb water and nutrients.

If your land is already clear-cut or covered in lawn, consider planting shrubs or trees in the buffer zone. Native species are best, but there are many attractive options, e.g. rugosa roses.

Locate your septic field as far from the shore as possible. Even well-running systems can contribute nutrients that can cause algal overgrowth. Maintain your septic system. Malfunctioning systems can lead to serious contamination of the water.

Avoid excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides on lawns and gardens.

Never allow heavy pollutants–gasoline, motor oil, anti-freeze, heavy metals, etc.–to be discharged on your land or in the water.

Read up on laws, septic systems, best management practices and landscaping ideas before starting construction work. Friends of Taunton Bay can provide you with pertinent literature, and more is available from state and local officials.

Contact your Code Enforcement Officer before starting any construction, soil disturbance or tree removal.

Always keep the health of the Taunton Bay watershed in mind. The value of your property depends on it.


Taunton Bay is a shallow embayment estuary linking the towns of Hancock, Sullivan and Franklin in Hancock County. As a sheltered oasis at the heart of an increasingly commercial sector of Maine’s scenic coast ,Taunton Bay is a unique and self-sustaining natural area largely undamaged by human intervention. Once known for its timber, mining, quarrying and shipbuilding industries, the bay is now valued mostly as a lovely rural residential setting. It is also home to an abundant wildlife population and has been designated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service as a Class A Wildlife Habitat. Bald eagles, great blue herons, osprey, loons, harbor seals and horseshoe crabs all live and breed here, and dozens of species of migratory shorebirds, ducks and geese rest or winter in the bay. The bay also supports a variety of fisheries for marine worms, clams mussels, scallops, crabs and lobsters.

All of the uses of Taunton Bay– from wildlife habitat to fisheries to real estate– are dependant on the natural productivity of its relatively undisturbed marine environment. Because the bay is shallow, narrow and enclosed, this productivity is more fragile than in deep-water areas. Obvious threats to the pristine quality of the bay are industrial activities and any fishery harvesting which damages the habitat, such as dragging. In addition, a major threat to the bay always looms in the form of Non-Point Sources of Pollution. NPS is the term used to describe the pollution that can come from our homes and from our day-to-day activities. Faulty septic systems, soil erosion, spilled gasoline and oil, lawn fertilizers and pesticides — all of these little contributions taken together can mean big trouble for Taunton Bay. If only a few people live on its shores, the bay could deal with low levels of NPS; but, as more and more homes are being built on Taunton Bay, it becomes increasingly important that each landowner try to minimize his or her impact on its waters. To this end we present this handbook as an information guide to those who live around Taunton Bay.


Statement of Purpose

The purpose of the Friends of Taunton Bay is to organize citizens for the well-being of the bay and for its protection from all forms of degradation.


Friends of Taunton Bay began in 1990 as a gathering of shoreland owners concerned with the possible impact of industrial aquaculture on Taunton Bay. It soon evolved into a non-profit organization with a membership of over 150 households. The administrative body of the organization is a volunteer Executive Committee, with help from other volunteers from the membership.

Summary of the on-going activities of the Friends of Taunton Bay:

Monthly public meetings during the summer featuring lecturers, slide shows, panel discussions, and seminars on topics of interest to the membership and community.

A biannual newsletter with informative articles and updates on activities.

Water quality monitoring program, in cooperation with the Department of Marine Resources.

Periodic aerial photos to establish baselines and monitor physical changes in and around the bay.

Annual horseshoe crab and shoreland bird surveys.

Annual shoreland surveys to monitor changes to the shore.

School outreach program.

Development of Geographical Information System maps (GIS) of the Taunton Bay watershed, in cooperation with College of the Atlantic and Frenchman Bay Conservancy

On-going monitoring of proposed projects or activities which may adversely impact the watershed.

Dissemination of information to our membership and all shoreland owners on matters important to Taunton Bay.


Taunton Bay is much more than a seven mile narrow tidal bay that exchanges salt water with Frenchman Bay and Youngs Bay. It is an estuary which also receives fresh water from many sources that come from the surrounding land. These sources are not only lakes, streams, and brooks, but rainwater that drains over land and through culverts. The bay and all land around the bay that drains into Taunton Bay is known as the Taunton Bay Watershed. This includes parts of the towns of Eastbrook and Waltham and Townships 9 and 10 as well as Hancock, Franklin and Sullivan. With the watershed in mind, this handbook includes references to laws and best practices for freshwater shorelands as well as marine shorelands.


Please bear in mind that this handbook is a brief overview of the many state and town laws and regulations affecting shoreland property. Detailed copies of the laws can be obtained at little or no cost from the Department of Environmental Protection or from the towns.

Before Taking Any Action With Shorefront Property, Always Contact Your Local Code Enforcement Officer or The Department of Environmental Protection.

In Maine, there are five state environmental laws relevant to shoreland property plus local ordinances that affect each:

1) The Protection and Improvement of Waters Law

2) The Erosion and Sedimentation Control Law

These two laws are designed to protect water from the discharge of any pollutant and from unnatural soil erosion, no matter where the source, be it in the Shoreland Zone or a mile away.

3) The Seasonal Conversion Act

This Act, in a nutshell, prohibits seasonal dwellings that do not comply with current sanitary codes from being “grand-fathered” in as year-round residences without updating waste disposal.

4) The Natural Resources Protection Act (NRPA)

The NRPA requires permitting (a five month process) through the DEP for certain activities and a simpler, less expensive permit-by-rule for other less intrusive activities. In general, any activity involving disturbance of soil or rocks within 100 feet of fresh or salt-water shorelines and any disturbance of vegetation or construction within 100 feet of the shore or on the water itself may require DEP permitting.

5) The Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Act (MSZA)

Many activities not covered by the NRPA are covered under the Shoreland Zoning Act and administered by each Township, but there is often an overlap in jurisdiction and even double permitting.


Under the Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Act (updated December 1997), each township is responsible for instituting and administering a Shoreland Zoning Ordinance at least as stringent as the Model Ordinance offered by the state. (The towns bordering Taunton Bay pretty much follow the state minimum requirements as of January 1999, but that could change at any time, so it is doubly important to check with your local Code enforcement Officer). Under the MSZA, the shoreland zone is defined as all areas within 250 feet of lakes, ponds, rivers, tidal areas, coastal wetlands and freshwater wetlands and at least 75 feet from certain streams.

Common activities that must meet town shoreland zoning requirements include:

Construction or expansion of structures.

Timber harvesting, individual tree removal and clearing of vegetation.

Campground and marina construction.

Filling or earth moving activity, such as road or driveway construction.

Construction of piers, wharves and bridges.

Siting of commercial and industrial uses.

Important Shoreland Zoning Requirements

Within the “Resource Protection” zone abutting a great pond, there may be no timber harvesting or cutting of vegetation within 75 feet of the normal high water line except to remove safety hazards.

In all shoreland areas, except Resource Protection, timber harvesting must be limited to selective cutting of no more than 40% of the trees 4 inches or more in diameter (measured at 4.5 feet above ground) on any lot in any ten year period, provided a well distributed stand of trees and other natural vegetation remains.

Within a strip extending 75 feet from normal high water, there shall be no cleared openings, except for approved construction, and a well distributed stand of vegetation shall be retained.

With the exception of structures in general development districts or those requiring direct access to water (piers, docks, retaining walls), all new structures must be set back at least 100 feet from lakes and ponds and rivers that flow into lakes and ponds and 75 feet from the normal high water line of tidal areas, tributary streams or the upland edge of a wetland.

Any expansion of a structure which increases the volume or floor area by 30% or more must meet the setback requirement.

All new construction and development must be designed to minimize storm water runoff from the site. Where possible, existing natural features, such as berms, swales, terraces and wooded areas shall be retained to reduce runoff and encourage infiltration of storm waters.

The minimum setback for new subsurface sewage disposal systems must be no less than 100 feet from the normal high water line.

All activities which involve filling, grading, excavation or other soil disturbing activities require a written soil erosion and sedimentation control plan.

In nontidal areas the minimum lot size for residential dwellings is 40,000 square feet with a minimum shore frontage of 200 feet; in tidal areas 30,000 square feet and 150 foot frontage are required.

At distances greater than 100 feet of a great pond or river flowing to a great pond and greater than 75 feet of tidal bodies or wetlands, timber harvesting cannot create single clear-cut openings greater than 10,000 square feet in the forest canopy. Where such openings exceed 5,000 square feet they shall be at least 100 feet apart.

A footpath no wider than 6 feet for great ponds and 10 feet for tidal shores may be created through the buffer zone, provided a clear line of sight is not created.

Individual private campsites are subject to many of the same setback and septic requirements as residential structures and must meet certain other special requirements.

Quick Reference Table
Activity Laws that Apply Contact
Cutting of trees within 250 feet of shoreline and pulling stumps 1. Shoreland Zoning

2. Natural Resources Protection Act

3. Erosion and Sedimentation Control Law
1. Town Code Enforcement Officer, (CEO)

2. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
Installation of a new septic system 1. Plumbing Code

2. Shoreland Zoning

3. Erosion and Sedimentary Control Law
1. Town Plumbing Inspector

2. CEO
Installation of a temporary dock Shoreland Zoning CEO
Installation of a permanent dock 1. Natural Resources Protection Act (NRPA)

2. Shoreland Zoning

3. Erosion and Sedimentary Control Law
1. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)

2. Town Planning Board
Construction of a dwelling 1. Shoreland Zoning

2. Plumbing Code

3. Natural Resources Protection Act

4. Erosion and Sedimentary Control Law
1. Town Planning Board

2. Town Plumbing Inspector

3. CEO

4. DEP
Boat Ramps 1. Shoreland Zoning


3. Erosion and Sedimentary Control Law
1. Town Planning Board

2. DEP
Clearing of rocks and vegetation along the shore 1. NRPA

2. Shoreland Zoning
1. DEP

2. Town CEO
Placement of stairs down to the shore 1. NRPA

2. Shoreland Zoning
1. Town Planning Board

2. Town CEO

3. DEP
Expanding or enclosing a deck 1. Shoreland Zoning

2. Erosion and Sedimentary Control Law
1. Town Planning Board

2. Town CEO
Establishing a horse corral or animal feed lot outside the 100 foot setback Protection and Improvement of Waters Act DEP
Grazing of livestock Shoreland Zoning CEO
Shoreland stabilization 1. Shoreland Zoning


3. Erosion and Sedimentary Control Law
1. CEO

2. Town Planning Board
Conversion of a seasonal dwelling to a year round home Seasonal Conversion Law Town Plumbing Inspector
Setting up a semi- permanent camp site Shoreland Zoning Town Plumbing Inspector
Building a parking area 1. Shoreland Zoning

2. Erosion and Sedimentary Control Law


Violations of shoreland zoning ordinances can result in expensive rectifications such as replanting illegally removed vegetation or removal of illegal structures, and in some cases may result in fines for the responsible parties. Failure to seek proper permitting almost always brings a fine. In most cases both the landowner and the contractor will be held responsible for violations involving construction or vegetation removal.

For townships within the Taunton Bay watershed, enforcement of shoreland laws is not always easy or automatic. Code Enforcement officers and other officials simply do not have the manpower to patrol the shoreland zone to ensure compliance. If they are not alerted to an action by permit applications, they are largely dependent on reports from other people to inform them of zoning violations. If you suspect a violation, call your CEO as soon as possible. If you would like advice or support before this ction, contact the Friends of Taunton Bay at 422-6248 or 422-3756.


Most of the homes in the Taunton Bay watershed are dependent on private underground septic systems for sanitary wastes disposal. Healthy septic systems are essential to clean water, not only in the bay and nearby ponds and streams but also in our wells. Here are a few tips to keep your system working properly. Check the publications list for sources of more in-depth information and always contact your Plumbing Inspector before any septic construction or changes in septic usage.

Pump your system every 3-5 years, depending on use.

Don’t put food, grease or household chemicals down the drain.

Don’t use septic system additives.

Don’t use your toilet as a trash can.

Conserve water to reduce the amount of waste water.

Check for signs of a failing system: bright green grass over the drainage area; soggy soil; bad smell; or sluggish drainage.

Consider replacing systems installed before 1974 or more than 20 years old.

For faulty septic systems that may be discharging into the water, the Small Community Grant Program can help low-income families repair their systems. It pays up to 90% of the repair cost for a year-round residential system, 50% for a commercial system and 25% for a seasonal residential system. To benefit from the program, your adjusted gross income must be $30,000 or less. This program is administered through the towns. For more information, contact your Select persons.


Department of Environmental Protection:

Bangor: 941-4570

Augusta: 1-800-452-1942

Land Use Regulatory Commission:

Augusta: 1-800-452-8711

Department of Marine Resources:

Patrol: 667-3373

Water Quality Lab: 667-5654

Frenchman Bay Conservancy: 422-2328

Hancock Town Office: 422-3393

Franklin Town Office: 565-3663

Sullivan Town Office: 422-6282


Franklin: Private delivery to town transfer station.

Hours: Saturday 9 am to 3 pm

Sunday 9 am to 2 pm

Wednesday, 9 am to 1 pm. (July and August only)

Hancock: Curbside pickup every Tuesday (must be out by 7 am).

Transfer Station Hours: 8 am to 4 pm Tuesday thru Saturday

Sullivan: Private delivery to transfer station on Tunk Lake Road

Hours: Sunday, 8 am to noon and 1 pm to 4 pm

Wednesdays 8 am to 4 pm (April to November only)


The towns of Hancock, Franklin and Sullivan participate in the Coastal Recycling Program. The recycling center is on Route 182, 0.6 miles from Route 1 in Hancock. The hours are Wednesday and Saturday 8 am to 4 pm. In addition, there are recycling trailers available at the Franklin and Sullivan transfer stations during their regular hours.

Coastal Recycling accepts newspapers, magazines, cardboard and most other forms of clean, dry paper, glass, #1 and #2 plastics (except motor oil bottles), steel cans, scrap metal, aluminum cans and foil and white goods [for a fee and not curbside]. Stop by the transfer stations, town halls or the Recycling Center for the latest guidelines for material preparation, or call the Center at 422-6766.


Many common materials are harmful to humans and animals as well as the environment: motor oil, gasoline, solvents, etc. The best way to avoid having used motor oil and its non-recyclable bottles on your hands is to have a reputable local professional change your oil. Some burn the oil in their furnaces, others send the oil for recycling; but all are required by law to dispose of it properly.

For tips on dealing with gasoline and dozens of other hazardous household substances, contact Friends of Taunton Bay at 422-3756 or the Hancock County Cooperative Extension at 667-8212 for the latest Cooperative Extension brochure.



There are many free environmental publications relevant to shoreland owners, several of which were used in writing this handbook. They can be obtained by contacting the Maine State Planning Office or the Department of Environmental Protection. Friends of Taunton Bay also has a supply of some of the publications – Call 422-3756.

1) Watershed: an Action Guide to Improving Maine Waters, DEP, State Planning Office and University of Maine Cooperative Ext, April 1990. Excellent 24 page booklet, clear and readable.

2) A Homeowner’s Guide to Environmental Laws Affecting Shorefront Property in Maine’s Organized Towns, DEP, 1997. Handy 28 page pocket sized booklet.

3) Treat It Right: Alternative Wastewater Systems That Protect Water Quality, DEP, Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, 1993. Very attractive, comprehensive 46 page book.

4) DEP and Soil and Water Conservation Fact Sheets:

#3 Erosion Control for Home Owners.

#6 Trees, Shrubs, Vines and Ground covers.

#7 Fertilizer Basics .

#8 Riprap for Shoreline Protection.

#12 Vegetative Stabilization for Sand Dunes & Tidal Areas

5) How to Keep Water Clean: Water Quality Self-Check for Homeowners, Oxford County Soil and Water Conservation District. Concise, simply written brochure.

6) Eight Simple Steps to Clean Water, DEP, 1997. Two page pamphlet explains watershed concept, ways individuals can help.

7) Every Time It Rains. Video

8) Maine’s Polluted Water– We Can All Help, DEP, State Planning Office, 1997. Excellent 30 minute video explaining NPS and what individuals can do. Practical landscaping ideas.


Sheriff: 911

Ambulance: 911

Fire: Franklin 911

Hancock 911

Sullivan 911

Hancock Police 911

U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue: 244-5121

Friends of Taunton Bay Executive Committee
President – Steve Perrin
Vice President – Frank Dorsey
Treasurer – Doug Kimmel
Secretary – Diana Arney
Membership & Publications – Sheila Karlson
Member at Large – Lee Hudson
Member at Large – Lois Johnson
Member at Large – Charlie Hodgson
Member at Large – Shep Erhart

A publication of the Friends of Taunton Bay

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