Workshops help Vermonters understand new Shoreland Protection Ac - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Workshops help Vermonters understand new Shoreland Protection Act

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The Vermont Shoreland Protection Act took effect last month. It's an effort to bring Vermont in line with neighboring states like New Hampshire and Maine, when it comes to protecting water quality in the states small and large lakes.

Green River Reservoir in Hyde Park is the perfect example of an idyllic Vermont lake.

With it's minimal visible shoreline development state conservation officials say the water quality benefits achieved through a wooded shoreline are a goal worth striving for.

A half dozen people attended Green River Reservoir for a state-sponsored workshop to help local residents understand the state's Shoreland Protection Act. The law went into effect July 1 and regulates what owners can do to properties on lakes and ponds. Existing work is grandfathered in, but a permit is required for clearing trees and vegetation or adding buildings, driveways, or decks within 250 feet of the shore.

"The idea behind the act is to start protecting the existing vegetation that's there and to kind of set guidelines as to how folks can proceed to develop parcels along the lakeside in an eco-friendly manner," said Misha Cetner, Vt. Department of Environmental Conservation.

The training, one of many held around the state, helps participants learn to estimate the lake's mean water level, measure slope and plot tree and vegetation cover.

In towns where shoreline zoning is more stringent, it will trump state rules. That has left some towns debating which rules to adopt.

"What we're trying to decide now is whether there is something Hyde Park could come up with that meets the states objectives, but is more user friendly, locally controlled," said Ron Rodjenski, Hyde Park town administrator.

The rules can get pretty complex, but officials say they are there to help.

"By no means does it end development. It's been designed so people can still develop their parcels, it just has to adhere to the standards that were created," said Cetner.

It's a textbook case of what state officials are hoping to avoid happened right here back in 1999.

That's when Barrett Singer, a property owner cut down a wide swath of trees on state-owned land in front of his vacation home. He eventually lost in court and was ordered to pay fines and replant trees.

Singer's Neighbor, Elisa Clancy, says when it comes to their upcoming project, they want to get it right.

"Yeah, there's a lot to know about what trees you can cut and what trees you cant. I think the best thing to do is just ask first," said Clancy.

New rules of the road when it comes to Vermont's shoreline development.


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