Those of you that follow lake water level management know that this fall/winter (2016/17) is the “big drop” – an extra foot of drop (three feet as opposed to two feet) – which happens just once every five years. There have already been Inland Wetland Commission applications submitted (and approved) for work by homeowners set to be performed this fall. Water level management begins in October with the goal of reaching the full drop by October 15th.
What Does This Mean To Me?
Many folks ask, “what are the regulations with which I need to comply when considering waterfront work, and where can I learn more?”
West Hill Pond waterfront could be in either New Hartford or Barkhamsted and the regulations can be found on the respective Town’s web-sites (provided below). The regulations are not especially complicated, and if you have specific questions after reading the regulation, the Town’s Inland Wetland Enforcement Officer is there to help.
Depending on the complexity of your project – and your familiarity with the regulation and process – you may find it advantageous to engage an engineer familiar with the Town to assist you with planning and presentation. This can be particularly helpful if you are approaching a deadline and denial of a permit, or requirement for an additional hearing would be catastrophic to your plans. Remember, the next three foot drop is in 2021!
New Hartford Commission
Barkhamsted Building Department with Wetlands Documents
Barkhamsted Wetlands Guide with FAQ
Types of Work Permitted
Consider that it is highly unlikely that work will be permitted to be performed below the level of the water. Ideally – though this is just an observation – proposals are favored that mimic and enhance the natural setting of the lake, and natural movement of the waters. This would include a shoreline that preserves or proposes restoring native vegetation including native shrubs and trees that project over the water cooling the shallows in the summer. Shoreline buffers of native vegetation such as Mountain Laurel provide better stormwater infiltration than stone, grass or concrete patios, and discourage nesting geese. Again, these are just observations of the types of solutions favored by the Commission as being protective of lake water quality and ultimately protective of the values the Towns place in the lake.
If considering projects in the upland review area, look to Section 4 (Permitted Uses as of Right) in both the Barkhamsted and New Hartford Regulations to see if the activity you are considering is included. For instance, gardening is a permitted use “as of Right,” so as long as your proposed work is not considered to have significant impact, development of a garden is not regulated by the Commission. To determine if there is significant impact, take your plans to the Town’s Inland Wetland Enforcement Officer and have a discussion.
To avoid delays get your plans together and submit your application early. Inland Wetland Meetings are held once a month, which means there are just a few limited opportunities for review before the water level drops, and then the water is raised starting in the new year. Your window for action is short!