Development on the lake

Every year we have two or three construction projects along the lake frontage.  It is understandable that these projects generate a lot of interest from all of our TPCA members because we all like to keep the lake the way it looks now if not the way it was when we first visited Thorndike Pond.  The TPCA Board frequently hears from concerned members on developments around the lake.  This article describes requirements for construction, suggested procedures for those undertaking these projects, recommendations for those objecting to those projects and the practice the Board is using to deal with these complaints.

The lake frontage on Thorndike Pond is part of the NH Shoreline Protection District and is part of Jaffrey’s Watershed Protection District so development along the shoreline is subject to restriction of both the state and the town.  Development generally requires a permit approved by the Jaffrey Board of Adjustment and possibly a waiver from the NH Department of Environmental Services (NH DES).  DES also has restriction for tree removal along the shoreline, restriction for docks and strict requirements for adjustments to the lake bottom.  We have observed that most association members are not aware of these requirements and we have a set of guidelines that can help our members.  Copies can be obtained from any board member.

The TPCA Board has a current practice of dealing with infractions.  As a practice it is subject to change without notice or by deviation on a case by case basis and is not binding on future Boards who may choose to take a different approach.  We are open to comments and suggestions from the members of the TPCA on additional or different practices: please contact a Board member if you have any.  When the Board gets a complaint from a TPCA member or observes some construction on our own, we will check with both the town and state to see that necessary permits have been issued and the project complies with all regulations.  When the Board thinks there are infractions we will contact the owner involved and pass along our observations.  It is to everyone’s benefit, including those who violate regulations, to become compliant by getting the permits even if after the fact.  If the owner does not seek to remedy a violation, the Board will file complaints with the appropriate authorities.  The Board recognizes, that despite most TPCA members’ preference to have no further construction on the lake, property owners have rights to use their property to the full extent of the law and we will not intercede on owners projects that meet government restrictions.

If any of you are considering development within 75 feet of the lake, you should consult with both the Jaffrey Zoning Office and the NH Department of Environmental Services and get the appropriate permits before undertaking your project.  In addition the Board thinks the neighborly thing to do is to contact the Board before any construction to discuss your intentions and to use the Board as a resource to see if there are any additional restrictions that we are aware of.  When informed of such projects in advance we will support the project to our members who question the legitimacy, thereby reducing ill-feelings and inter-member discussions.

For members observing such projects we suggest your best option is to contact any Board member so the Board can determine the legitimacy and take any appropriate action as discussed above.  If we are aware of the project in advance, we can pass along the position that the owner is complying with state and local regulations, thereby reducing concerns.  You are also welcome and in some case encouraged to contact the owners doing the development but using the Board for such complaints avoids the problem of neighbor to neighbor confrontation.  The Board will keep informants anonymous.  If you are unhappy with the results, you can of course seek any other mediation open to you under the law.

This leaves the subject of covenants.  These are further restrictions on permitted uses that are part of the deeds of some properties.  An example, and the only one we are aware of, is properties that are part of the Forest Ramp Association.  Our understanding is that these covenants do not allow any construction within 30 feet of the lake.  The Board is not in a position to know these restrictions and is not in a good position to intercede in violations.  We leave it to individuals involved to comply and abutters to enforce such restrictions, or to the groups to change or eliminate these covenants if there is no intention to enforce them.  It is our observation that the Forest Ramp covenants are not being complied with and we wish they were, because we think the intentions are good for the group as a whole and if they were enforced they would enhance everyone’s property value, admittedly at the expense of individual usage.